Advertisement

Our coronavirus coverage is free for the first 24 hours. Find the latest information at tampabay.com/coronavirus. Please consider subscribing or donating.

  1. Archive

Enis, Hanspard join RB hopefuls

While outgoing running back Warrick Dunn was visiting One Buc Place on Thursday to wrap up personal business, the team was busy interviewing and working out two candidates to replace him.

Former Bears first-round pick Curtis Enis and former Falcons running back/returner Byron Hanspard became the latest in a convoy of running backs the Bucs are considering.

Neither played in the NFL last season.

This week, the Bucs also welcomed Rams free agent Robert Holcombe and Cardinals free agent Michael Pittman. They may be interested in free agents Ricky Watters and Dorsey Levens.

"We have an opportunity to look at the free agent backs," coach Jon Gruden said. "It might be a committee of backs. We'll wait and see. But we're going to add some players to that group, absolutely."

The Bucs may have Pro Bowl fullback Mike Alstott and reserve Aaron Stecker, but Gruden seems adamant about leaving no stone unturned in the pursuit of a replacement for Dunn. It is, he said, their most pressing need.

"A fullcourt press is a better way to put it," Gruden said. "We're going to work hard to improve that situation. We've got to improve our running game."

Pittman and Holcombe appear to be viable choices, Enis and Hanspard long shots.

After a career marked by great expectations, unhealthy knees and a position change, Enis tried to make it with the Browns in training camp last season but retired before the regular season began.

His last season in the league was 2000 with the Bears, when he was moved to fullback and had 84 yards on 36 carries in 12 games. After working out in Birmingham, Ala., under the eye of orthopedic specialist James Andrews, Enis is attempting a comeback.

"I spoke to Curtis in the past few days," Enis' agent, Joe Segal, said. "He's working hard and if he's healthy, he's got the ability of a top-10 pick. There's no reason he can't do it."

Hanspard, cut by the Falcons before the 2000 regular season, had 136 carries for 383 yards (2.8 average) with one touchdown.

The Bucs, however, aren't ready to panic about the depth at running back.

"We'll be fine," general manager Rich McKay said this week. "We'll deal with it today, tomorrow and probably through the draft and maybe well into June. I think this is a football team that probably won't be fully made until the second or third week of July."

The Bucs also will try to find a receiver to play alongside Keyshawn Johnson. Former Lions receiver Johnnie Morton is scheduled to visit today. Germane Crowell, Morton's teammate in Detroit, visited Saturday.

Meantime, the Bucs continue to move forward with plans to conduct training camp at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex. Though the deal appears set, the team and Disney officials are ironing out details.

It is uncertain whether fans would be charged admission to watch the traditionally free workouts and scrimmages. Atlanta Braves fans pay to watch spring training workouts there.

Two years ago, the Redskins broke NFL protocol and began charging fans to watch training camp. The move was suspended shortly after. By NFL rules, if the public is charged admission for training camp, scouts from other teams are allowed to watch. If there is no charge, opposing scouts must stay away.

If there were an admission fee,it is unclear whether the Bucs or Disney would charge it.

Tim Ruskell, director of player personnel, continues to await word from the Falcons on the vacant general manager position. Ruskell has interviewed three times for the position and had dinner with new owner Arthur Blank on Tuesday night in Orlando.

The Falcons targeted Green Bay consultant Ron Wolf, but Wolf pulled himself out of consideration.

"I don't have a timetable," Blank said recently. "If you don't have an answer you get to love the question, and I'm getting to love that question (when will a decision be made?) It takes a while to do that. We will end up with a great candidate. You just have to be patient."

_ Times staff writer Darrell Fry contributed to this report, which used information from other news organizations.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Advertisement
Advertisement