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Bucs, Rhett still haven't had accord

Errict Rhett's holdout is likely to continue at least until after the first preseason game Aug. 3 at Miami.

Rhett's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said he plans to meet with general manager Rich McKay when the team travels to Miami Thursday for workouts against the Dolphins.

Rosenhaus said he spoke briefly with McKay on Wednesday, but there were no negotiations. "I just want to keep the lines of communication open," Rosenhaus said.

Rhett, under contract and being fined $5,000 per day, wants a deal that would average $3-million and include a $5-million signing bonus. The Bucs offered a six-year contract that would average $2.35-million _ but most of that money would be earned in the final two years. McKay has said the Bucs are through negotiating and expect Rhett to play for $336,000 _ the terms under the final year of his contract.

SHOWERED UP: The drought is over. It took only five workouts before the Bucs were pelted by rain Wednesday. But the storms contained no lightning and were short-lived, so coach Tony Dungy did not suspend practice.

MISSING SAM: Quarterback Trent Dilfer is not nostalgic about the days under coach-turned-broadcaster Sam Wyche. But he does miss the lazy afternoons and the cool breeze of night workouts.

"It's like night and day," Dilfer said. "There are some things we miss about it _ like those four-hour naps in the afternoon. Tony really pushes tempo, and it's killing us, but it'll make us better."

SAFETY FIRST: Second-year pro Melvin Johnson intercepted two passes in the morning workout and drew the attention of Dungy and others. Johnson, a second-round pick from Kentucky last year, is expected to start at free safety, replacing Thomas Everett, who was released.

"Melvin's got a lot of range," Dungy said. "He can make plays going sideline to sideline. What he's got to do is have confidence in himself and really know what he's doing. If he does, he's got a chance to be a really good player."

BUCS-JAGS SCHEDULE: The Bucs travel to Jacksonville on Friday for workouts at Municipal Stadium with the Jaguars: from 10:30 a.m.-noon and 4:45-6:30 p.m.

They have an intrasquad game scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Saturday at Pepin/Rood Stadium. They have a practice today at 3:30 p.m.

INJURIES: G Stephen Ingram (hyperextended knee) is out indefinitely. FB Fred Lester (hamstring) and DE Keith Powe (sprained ankle) are day-to-day.

ET CETERA: The team will sign free-agent fullback Robert Staten, who spent the last two seasons on the Vikings' practice squad. Pete Sampras was among the estimated crowd of 4,000 at the Bucs' evening practice Wednesday.

_ RICK STROUD

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