TAMPA — C Jeff Faine said Tuesday that the contract impasse between the Bucs and starting LT Donald Penn could become a distraction if there's no accord by training camp.
"I think that each side of the field needs to even out. Let's meet in the middle and get this going," Faine said after the final minicamp workout.
"As an offensive line, you like to have continuity. You like to have guys working together all the time. We've changed quite a bit this offseason, and that's something (Penn is) going to have to catch up on."
Penn has missed all the voluntary offseason workouts and this week's mandatory minicamp while seeking a long-term extension. He refused to sign a $3.168 million tender as a restricted free agent, and the club reduced its offer to 110 percent of his 2009 salary, a loss of about $100,000.
Though Faine is eager for Penn's return, he was effusive in his praise for Demar Dotson, a converted basketball player from Southern Mississippi who is taking reps with the first team at left tackle.
"I can't say enough good things about him," Faine said. "I think even we take it for granted on the inside as an offensive line … that he's only been playing football for three years. He's learning how to play at the highest level that you can play football. Period."
Coach Raheem Morris is eager to see Penn report but won't make any predictions.
"I've got a feeling he'll come up and play, and I can't wait until he does," Morris said.
When will that happen?
"I can't answer that question," Morris said. "I'm not his agent, I'm not Donald, I'm not anybody that's going to help make his decision. But I'll wait and anticipate that he will be (here)."
A STEP FORWARD: Morris said he is fired up about the progress of the team during the offseason, which ended with Tuesday's final mandatory minicamp practice.
Morris estimated that about 90 percent of the players participated in the voluntary workouts. Penn was the only player not to attend the minicamp.
The Bucs will scatter today after a team-building exercise. A year ago, the team participated in a paintball tournament.
"It's been a different offseason for us," Morris said. "There's been a lot of progression rather than taking steps backward.
"I'm fired up about everything, from how the draft went to the last day of minicamp, with the liveliness of the practice, with the togetherness of the coaches, with the competitive edge of everybody on the football field."
Players and coaches will report to training camp July 30 at One Buc Place. But instead of installing offensive and defensive schemes, Morris said the focus will be on execution and becoming more physical.
"It's going to be about physical, it's going to be about violence, it's going to be about playing hard, it's going to be about putting your face on people," Morris said.
"Training camp is a little different. To me, that's when you establish the men. You take off your underwear, you put on your big boy pads and you put your face on people."
What message did Morris leave his team with Tuesday?
"You tell these guys physical conditioning precedes everything on your way to training camp," Morris said. "Along with going out and being in your best shape possible and being ready to run, enjoying your family and getting away with the people you really love and actually getting a little R&R, (get) ready to be the most physically fit team so we can get ready to work on our physical attitude when we get back to training camp."
Seahawks: Coach Pete Carroll said that recently acquired RB Leon Washington will be ready for the start of training camp despite having a metal rod in his right leg. Carroll said Washington is ahead of schedule in his recovery from a compound fracture of the tibia and fibula sustained in October in a game against the Raiders while he was with the Jets. Seattle traded for the former FSU standout in April.
Also, the Seahawks claimed S Kevin Ellison, who played for Carroll at USC, off waivers from the Chargers, a day after he was released following his arrest on suspicion of possessing a controlled substance. Police in Redondo Beach, Calif., stopped Ellison for speeding in a school zone near his former high school in late May. They said a search of Ellison's vehicle turned up 100 Vicodin pills. He was booked and released on $10,000 bail. Ellison started nine games as a rookie last year.
Information from Times wires was used in this report.