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Mock scrimmage deals with a touch of reality

From Whitney Houston's version of the national anthem to the final desperation pass into the end zone, the Bucs staged a mock game Saturday morning at Pepin/Rood Stadium to prepare for the preseason.

"You talk to the players about the way you want to do things and what you expect, especially for the rookies," coach Tony Dungy said. "So much of that is new. It should be better for us when we go down to Miami on Saturday."

The scrimmage was low key with players in shorts and no pads. There was no tackling and the game lasted a little more than an hour. The orange team, coached by Dungy and filled mostly with rookies and free agents, was beaten 9-3 by the white team.

The running game was sluggish, although it is difficult to assess in a game of touch football. Quarterback Trent Dilfer completed 4 of 8 passes and led the white team to a field goal after a 40-yard pass to Horace Copeland. Casey Weldon, 5-of-8, threw the only touchdown, a 6-yard pass to tight end Jackie Harris.

BROWNIE POINTS: Dungy is impressed with free-agent running back LeRoy Thompson after a week of workouts.

"The biggest surprise has been LeRoy Thompson just how fast he's picked things up and gotten into the swing of things in our system," Dungy said. "He's got talent and he can do a lot of things. I think he's going to help us.

"We got him as a change-of-pace guy on third down. He's going to be able to do that. He can catch the ball and make plays."

Thompson has played for Pittsburgh, New England and Kansas City in his five-year career. He's averaging nearly 30 receptions, with a high of 65 for the Pats in 1994.

VOTE EARLY AND OFTEN: Mixing business with pleasure, the Bucs had a booth set up at Pepin/Rood so Hillsborough residents could register to vote and take part in the Sept. 3 stadium referendum. An official at the booth said about 60 people registered during the scrimmage.

MANO A MANO: The Bucs opted to skip a full-scale kickoff drill during the scrimmage, instead having Michael Husted kick one-on-one to rookie returner Nilo Silvan.

Standing on the sideline before Husted kicked off, general manager Rich McKay shouted to his kicker, "I don't like your chances, Michael."

INJURIES: Ten players sat out with injuries, although Dungy said none was serious.

LB Derrick Brooks (ribs), WR Terence Davis (hip flexor), OL Stephen Ingram (hyperextended knee), DT Marcus Jones (groin), FB Fred Lester (hamstring), WR Marvin Marshall (foot), DE Keith Powe (ankle), WR Larry Ryans (ankle), LB Jesse Sanders (ankle) and WR Karl Williams (shoulder) all were out. DE Chidi Ahanotu and WR Charles Wilson returned after missing Friday's drills.

SCHEDULE: The Bucs have their first day off today, although they must return to camp by 7 p.m. They return to regular workouts at 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Monday.

_ JOHN ROMANO

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