Michael Bennett sat by his locker Monday and flipped on a small TV inside his cubicle. A Disney cartoon flashed on the screen - in stark contrast to the endless frames of game film he has been watching since last week, immersing himself in the intricacies of Jon Gruden's West Coast offense.
Bennett, obtained in a trade with Kansas City, brings game-breaking speed to the Bucs (9.8 seconds in the 100 meters) and got a chance to show it just a little in Sunday's 23-16 loss to Detroit. Although Earnest Graham carried the bulk of the tailback duties impressively, Bennett ran three times for 22 yards, including an 18-yard dash up the middle to the Lions 1 with Detroit leading 16-7.
"They're going to have to plan for all of us, because we all bring different things to the game," he said. "Once I'm able to get comfortable and get out there a lot and rotate with Earnest (to provide) a great change of pace, that's going to be one of the great things we'll have as a running back tandem."
But Bennett wishes he could have found a way to score on his long run, because quarterback Jeff Garcia followed with a costly fumble.
"I really didn't sleep too good thinking about that (Sunday) night," he said. "Maybe if I could have run a little harder, I could have split those guys and gotten in there."
Overall, his comfort level with the offense is improving.
"It's like telling me to go out there and cook a gourmet dish right now," he said. "I'm still putting the recipe together. It's a week-to-week process, and if you go from one to five, I'm probably at the 21/2 stage right now."
Bennett said he never has returned kicks - something Gruden might ask him to try - but "if they want me back there, I'll be more than happy to do it."
When Bennett arrived last week, he likened learning the system to mastering Chinese in 48 hours. How's his Chinese now?
"It's getting a little better," he said. "I actually may go out for some Chinese food tonight. Maybe that'll help the process."
Bennett then showed his favorite DVD, Transformers. Fitting for a player hoping to help transform Tampa Bay's running game.
Covered up: The Bucs got a taste of their own medicine as the Lions' Cover2 defense prevented Tampa Bay from using receiver Joey Galloway's ability to go deep. It was the second time in three games the Bucs fell prey to the scheme after the Colts used it successfully against them on Oct.7.
Galloway caught five passes for 46 yards, but his longest was a 16-yarder. Although they lack a renowned secondary, the Lions were effective because the Cover2 zone limits big plays.
"There's not a whole lot of open zone down the field," Garcia said. "That's where we had to be patient and just utilize the backs and the flat and those kinds of things."