Brown is here to compete
By RICK STROUD, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published August 4, 2002
LAKE BUENA VISTA -- The Tampa Bay area is full of retirees, hard-working people who have paid their dues, saved their money and want to enjoy the rest of their lives in paradise.
Lomas Brown is not one of them.
The 18-year NFL veteran did not sign with the Bucs without a guarantee that he would be given every opportunity to win the starting left tackle spot.
"We brought that guy in to play," coach Jon Gruden said. "And inspire. And when it's all said and done, I'll be shocked if Lomas Brown doesn't go out there and play like Lomas Brown can."
It may take time. Brown had all but decided to shut it down this season. He had accomplished almost everything in his celebrated career. He had gone to seven Pro Bowls and appeared in Super Bowl XXXV with the Giants. Brown was caring for his ill father in Miami when the Bucs called.
"They want to see how much I have left in the tank," Brown said.
The Bucs are close to settling on their top five offensive lineman. It seems increasingly likely Kenyatta Walker will not be the left tackle. That's because he most likely will switch to right tackle, the position he played at Florida, leaving Brown or free agent Roman Oben on the other side.
Walker is not excited about the move and you can't blame him. Left tackles traditionally fare better financially. "You watched practice," Walker said sternly when asked about the move after a workout last week.
"We've got to look at the entire picture. It's not just about Kenyatta," Gruden said. "It's about the entire offensive line and what best enables us best to do what we want to do.
"We haven't had a lot of hands-on, on-the-field experience with Lomas Brown. Roman Oben was signed late in the free-agency process and he had an offseason injury that kind of limited what he could show us. We've got to be smart and not go crazy and make a bunch of decisions before it's right."
In other words, the Bucs need to give Brown time to get in shape and become familiar with the offense.
"We didn't sign anyone to be insurance. We all have our insurance policies. The NFL provides unbelievable insurance plans for all of us," Gruden said.
JOHNSON AND JOHNSON: Rob Johnson has looked impressive in his first week of training camp. But this is the time of year the world falls in love with his skills.
Johnson has to break the mold of being a version of baseball's 5:30 hitter, the guy who launches batting practice pitches, then goes 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.
"I think the big thing with Rob that we say every day, it's about putting days together and practices together -- back to back to back to back to back practices," Gruden said. "He's doing a good job of improving his overall consistency."
Johnson knows he will have to outshine steady starter Brad Johnson in preseason games. But he likes his position behind the leader.
"I've been the guy with the target on me for a while. It's nice to be the hunter instead of the hunted," Rob Johnson said. "But it doesn't change what I have to do.
"I've got to go get it from him. He's got it, so it forces you to play really well. But I usually play really well in those situations."
CHUCKY'S WORLD: Gruden offers colorful insights during his postpractice interviews. A few nuggets from last week:
On receiver Keenan McCardell: "He adds a little -- I don't know -- a little style to our offense. He wants to be an offensive coordinator and call the plays. I like guys like that so much. I want a guy who wants the ball on every play and isn't happy when he doesn't get it ... to a point."
On settling on an offensive line: "When we announce who's the starting offensive line, if you want to call it a depth chart or blueprint or whatever, we're going to try to settle on a group as soon as possible. At the same time, nothing's ever etched in stone except the Ten Commandments as far as I'm concerned."
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