Kelly breaks bones in hand
By Times staff writers
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 7, 2002
TAMPA -- Bucs cornerback Brian Kelly suffered the first injury of minicamp Saturday when he broke two bones in his right hand while covering Keyshawn Johnson.
The injury, which occurred when Kelly's hand caught awkwardly on Johnson's leg, should take 3-4 weeks to heal. But Kelly said he is optimistic he will return in time for the next minicamp later this month.
"If there's any timing, this is the best timing," Kelly said. "I'll be able to come back for the next minicamp and get back into it. If it was a game situation, guys have played with a broken hand. It's one of those things you suck up.
"But now we've got time to rest it and let it heal right. So that's what we're going to do."
Kelly's injury is the only serious one after four noncontact minicamp workouts under coach Jon Gruden.
"We try not to have any contact. We were clear at the very beginning this is noncontact camp, but this is a contact sport," Gruden said. "And there's a fine line how people interpret that.
"But we've got to learn how to practice in shorts. That's a goal of the offseason program, and clearly, we've got some ways to go in terms of mastering that."
PLAYING IT SAFE: Linebacker Derrick Brooks has been sitting out because of the tender left foot he sprained last season. Brooks played last season despite the injury but doesn't want to do the same this season.
"It's not going to heal in one or two months, so we're going to take our time with it," he said, giving no timetable for when he'll practice. "I don't want to be out there mentally thinking about my foot.
"I need to be thinking about the opponent."
A LONG TIME COMING: While most players are trying to shake off the rust from not playing since last season, free-agent running back Byron Hanspard has been trying to make an even bigger adjustment.
He hasn't played in two seasons.
"It's different, but it's not really that bad; not anything different than what I was used to," he said. "It's just about me getting back in the flow of the game, getting back to reading my blocks, getting back to the football mind-set. And it's not going to take me long to do that."
KEEPING HOPE ALIVE: Free-agent receiver Keith Poole realizes he is in a rare situation.
Without an established starter to play opposite Johnson, Poole has as good a chance as anyone to win the job despite catching just five passes during an injury-marred 2001 season with the Broncos.
The Bucs might sign a proven receiver or take one in the draft, but Poole said he remains optimistic.
"Obviously, your plan is to become a starter, and that's my goal," he said.
"I know there's a lot of guys on this team who have the same plan, and we'll all be battling to be starters."
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "It's like no other offense I've ever run in my life." -- Hanspard on coach Gruden's new offense.
-- DARRELL FRY, ROGER MILLS, RICK STROUD
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