Casey Weldon does not have the anointment that comes with being a first-round draft pick, or the seven-figure W-2, or even the celebrity golf invitations. But the Bucs' backup quarterback believes he has earned something new this season _ a fair shake at the starting job.
Weldon looked impressive during workouts in Jacksonville and in Saturday's scrimmage, leading the offense to its only touchdown of the afternoon.
By Weldon's own admission, a lot of that success had to do with the play-calling. But if need be, nobody will hesitate to give him his first NFL start this season.
"The thing I told him is he doesn't have to make spectacular plays," coach Tony Dungy said. "He doesn't have to be fantastic. The quarterback's job is to move the team, move the ball, score and win. That's what we're going to judge things on."
Make no mistake, the job is Trent Dilfer's to lose and he has done nothing to shake the team's confidence in him. But Weldon has the advantage of being seen through the fresh eyes of a new coaching staff this season.
"It's been tough because I haven't had a break," Weldon said. "The guy in front of me, unfortunately or fortunately, hasn't gotten hurt and I haven't had a chance to start yet. I think I have more of a chance of playing this year than last year."
LOSING THE FIGHT: It's almost unheard of to complete the first sun-baked week of training camp, including two workouts in Jacksonville and an intrasquad scrimmage in less than 24 hours, and not have tempers boil.
But the Bucs managed to do that without really having a single incident of fighting.
It's just one of the early signs of Dungy's new regime.
In five short months, he has taken one of the most heavily fined teams in the league last season and instilled more self-control.
"Tony doesn't like fighting on the football field," Dilfer said.
Here's another rarity: There has been virtually no audible profanity by position coaches on the practice field.
Dungy, for the umpteenth time this preseason, was asked about his quiet approach and the effect it might have on the Bucs.
"I don't want the team to be like me," Dungy said. "I want the team to play, and I just want to coach."
FINE TUNED: If the Bucs insist that Errict Rhett play under the terms of his contract for the '96 season, and he persists in holding out, the third-year tailback soon will be working for free.
Rhett is scheduled to earn $336,000, and in accordance with the collective-bargaining agreement, is being fined $5,000 per day. That's roughly 10 percent a week, meaning his salary disappears about the fifth game of the regular season.
For that reason, Rhett's strike should not be a long one, even though he and the club remain far apart on his demands for a contract extension.
His agent, Drew Rosenhaus, indicated that he plans to meet with general manager Rich McKay this week when the team travels to Miami for workouts with the Dolphins.