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Tampa Bay Buccaneers wrap up offseason voluntary workouts , shift focus to minicamp

Not full strength: QB Byron Leftwich leaves the practice field. Coach Raheem Morris insisted Leftwich sit out after sustaining a slight groin strain. Leftwich says he’ll be fine for next week.

WILLIE J. ALLEN JR. | Times

Not full strength: QB Byron Leftwich leaves the practice field. Coach Raheem Morris insisted Leftwich sit out after sustaining a slight groin strain. Leftwich says he’ll be fine for next week.

TAMPA — The term "voluntary" now can be eliminated where the Bucs are concerned.

Tampa Bay on Thursday wrapped up the last of 14 organized team activities, a fancy term for voluntary practices. On Tuesday, the Bucs report for a three-day mandatory minicamp that will involve more on-field work and more classroom time in their final workouts before training camp.

Though attendance was optional, the OTAs were valuable, coach Raheem Morris said.

"The way I look at it is you've prepared yourself to go to training camp, to prepare yourself for the season," he said. "So, I guess we're ahead of schedule because I feel like we're ready for training camp right now."

This offseason was a critical one for a team that is implementing a new offense and defense, and breaking in new coaches on both sides of the ball.

That's why the failure of LB Barrett Ruud, G Arron Sears and QB Brian Griese to attend any OTA sessions was notable. As of Thursday, GM Mark Dominik was expecting all to be in attendance, though Sears' still-undisclosed personal issues might result in him being excused. Ruud has stayed away as a silent protest to his lack of a new contract, while Griese was nudged closer to unemployment after first-round pick Josh Freeman was drafted in April.

"It's mandatory," Dominik said. "So far we haven't excused anybody."

Morris has been in contact with Ruud and indicated there has been no damage to their relationship. Griese and Morris haven't spoken in some time.

"I think those guys are interested to get back," Morris said. "Whatever their situation is, nobody wants to be away from this place. Everybody wants to be here. For whatever (reason) you're not here, to each his own. (They are) mostly private matters. When they get here, I'll be happy to see them."

FREEMAN STEPS IN: Thursday's practice, open to the media, featured more snaps for Freeman. Turns out, there was a reason for that.

Veteran QB Byron Leftwich was reluctantly sidelined with a slight groin strain and was under orders from Morris to sit out. Leftwich and Morris felt confident it would not prevent Leftwich from participating next week.

"I could have went today," Leftwich said. "They shut me down."

With more snaps available with the first- and second-teamers, Freeman took advantage and made some impressive throws, including a 50-yard-plus deep ball to WR Pat Carter, a former Lakewood High standout. That put the ball at the goal line, setting up Freeman's touchdown pass to Kelly Campbell, who caught a fade pass from the rookie.

"You lay in the tub and people are all over your reps," Morris said. "That's just how it goes. … You saw a big-time throw by (Freeman). That's what we knew he could do."

CB Kyle Arrington was injured while defending the play, but his condition was not immediately known.

ON THE SHELF: DE Stylez White said he most likely would be sidelined for the minicamp after his recent motorcycle accident. He said he would be 100 percent healthy for training camp and should have no long-term effects from his injuries.

ROOKIE TALKS: Agent Drew Rosenhaus said he has been in talks with the team about deals for fourth-round pick Kyle Moore and seventh-rounder E.J. Biggers. Dominik indicated the team's remaining mid- and late-round picks could be signed soon. G Xavier Fulton signed Wednesday.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wrap up offseason voluntary workouts , shift focus to minicamp 06/11/09 [Last modified: Friday, June 12, 2009 8:40am]
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