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Bucs come to terms with two draft picks

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers whittled their list of unsigned draft picks by two Tuesday, reaching contract agreements with receivers Horace Copeland and Tyree Davis.

Copeland, a fourth-round pick from Miami, accepted a three-year deal. Terms were undisclosed. Davis, a seventh-round selection from Central Arkansas, signed a two-year deal that will pay him about $275,000 in base salary.

Copeland and Davis are the second and third of Tampa Bay's 10 draft picks to come to terms, joining third-round safety John Lynch, who signed last month. Under the NFL's new labor agreement, Tampa Bay has a rookie draft salary pool of $2,732,800 from which to pay its first-year players.

"I've said all along that I think teams will gain momentum as certain picks sign," Bucs vice president Richard McKay said. "With the limited amount of money, it's in the best interests to get deals done on a quick basis. I think a couple more deals could be done (today)."

Copeland, the second of four receivers drafted by Tampa Bay this spring, caught 84 passes for 1,424 yards and seven touchdowns in three seasons at Miami. In 1992, Copeland tied Lamar Thomas (the Bucs' second-round choice) for the team lead in receptions with 47. A deep threat, Copeland, 6 feet 2, 195 pounds, averaged 16.4 yards per catch.

Davis, 5-9 and 165 pounds, tied an NAIA record last season with four punt returns for touchdowns.

"I think it's great for my situation to get signed," Davis said. "I didn't want those first- and second-round guys consuming all the money. Coach (Sam) Wyche told me they drafted me for punt returns, and that I will be the starting punt returner."

Around the NFL

Patriots: The NFL might waive its ban on dual ownership to give James Orthwein more time to sell the New England Patriots if he decides to buy an expansion franchise in St. Louis.

Bidders for expansion franchises must commit $42-million by Nov. 1, but an NFL official told the Boston Herald that Orthwein might be allowed to delay payment until he can sell the Patriots.

Chargers: Defensive lineman Chris Mims was arrested and jailed for two hours in San Diego on three outstanding misdemeanor warrants, police said. Mims was released on bail and was scheduled to appear in Municipal Court on July 21. Officers responding to a complaint of a loud party at Mims' residence shortly before midnight Monday ran a computer check and found that Mims faced three warrants for failing to appear in court, two for speeding and one for urinating in public.

Saints: Linebacker Vaughn Johnson, accused of breaking a suburban cab driver's nose in an unprovoked attack, will not be charged with a felony but may be tried instead on a lesser charge of battery.

Jacksonville: Touchdown Jacksonville! Ltd. said it has commitments for all but four of the 68 proposed Gator Bowl skyboxes that go on sale July 1.

The suites range from $45,000 to $75,000 a year. The price includes 20 game tickets.

Although the five cities competing for an NFL franchise are prevented from taking money until July 1, they are allowed non-binding commitments. The NFL is expected to announce two expansion teams in October.

Storm suspends Willis

The Tampa Bay Storm suspended wide receiver-defensive back Darren Willis indefinitely for undisclosed reasons. Willis, who caught eight passes for 76 yards and a touchdown and intercepted a pass, is not expected to return to the team.

The Storm signed defensive back Rawland Crawford and receiver-linebacker-quarterback Stacey Robinson. Crawford led Tampa Bay with 52 tackles in 1991.

The team also announced that the home game against Cincinnati on July 2 has been moved to July 3. Kickoff is at 7:40 p.m.

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