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Houston is a home game for McCardell

By Times staff writers
© St. Petersburg Times
published August 30, 2002

Tonight's game will be a homecoming for receiver Keenan McCardell, who grew up in Houston.

McCardell said the demand for tickets from family and friends has been greater than when the Bucs played at Jacksonville, where McCardell played most of his career.

"I'm glad to be going home. It's a chance to play in front of some family and friends," he said. "It's going to be fun. It's great playing in front of your friends and your high school buddies. They are going to talk about you when you do good and talk about you when you do bad. That's the thing about close friends, they'll tell you the truth regardless of what other people say."

Part of the reason for the demand is the popularity of football in Texas. McCardell attended a regular-season high school game between rival Houston teams at the Astrodome that drew 60,000 fans.

"I was at the game and didn't believe it was that many people there," McCardell said. "It's unbelievably big. People believe in their high school football there. I think they believe in it a little more than their college football there."

EXTRA WORK: After missing two days of practice nursing a sore left ankle, third-round draft pick Marquise Walker returned this week and resumed his extra work with offensive assistant coach Jeremy Bates.

Walker is in no jeopardy of being cut, but a solid performance in tonight's preseason finale could help ensure a more prominent role when the season starts.

"I think I have to (do extra work)," the wide receiver said. "Especially as a rookie, it seems my days go by so fast and I really have to keep on it. I wasn't here to get my reps (Monday and Tuesday) so me and Jeremy, most of the time after practice, do a little extra."

Walker said the diagnosis on his ankle, which he sprained Aug. 12 against the Dolphins, was very encouraging and added that it likely dates to a basketball injury as far back as high school.

"It's a slight strain, no torn ligaments or broken bones or anything like that," he said. "I've got skinny ankles, and I got them from my father. ... Once I got it loose, it was fine."

Walker said his ankle showed no signs of pain or weakness upon returning to practice and he can't wait for an opportunity to atone for dropping an apparent touchdown pass from Shaun King in the fourth quarter Saturday of the Redskins game.

"Oh, my god, I got too comfortable, I saw the end zone before the ball was even thrown," Walker said. "I thought I was about to run 40 or 50 yards. It's one of those things when I just got too comfortable. ... I just saw that end zone disappear just like that. ... But you can't dwell on one play, if you do, your mind will be off the rest of the game."

PASS THE PIZZA, PLEASE: One day in early March, during the beginning of the free-agency period, backup guard/center Todd Washington visited the Browns and weighed 350 pounds. It was the most Washington had weighed as a pro.

So when he re-signed with Tampa Bay on March 18, new offensive line coach Bill Muirput him on a strict weight-loss regimen. He and all the other linemen were supposed to meet the training camp weight of 310 pounds. They all did.

At Wednesday's weigh-in, Washington was at 296, about 10 pounds lighter than the Bucs would like.

"That's the least I have ever weighed since being here," said Washington, who added the lower weight should help the rehabilitation of his sore left knee. "Now they want me to add weight.' "

He is not alone. Left tackle Roman Oben entered training camp at 309 and was at 295 Wednesday.

The Bucs want their linemen to be more mobile and encouraged the weight loss, but with injuries rampant and the team opting to play the starting five as much as possible, players are dropping weight.

Washington said he has been trying to put it back on but with little success.

"I've been eating everything, all kinds of junk food. But it's just going right through me. I mean right through me."

NEVER TOO EARLY TO PLAN AHEAD: If the Bucs beat the Falcons and Steelers during the regular season, they may have the Texans partly to thank.

Bucs coach Jon Gruden said the team plans to use tonight's game against Houston, which uses a 3-4 defensive alignment, to help plan its attack against the Steelers and Falcons, who also use the 3-4.

"It's a completely different way of playing defense, to be quite honest with you," Gruden said.

-- DARRELL FRY, ROGER MILLS


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Today's lineup

Bucs
  • King may get shot as backup QB
  • 'Skins-Bucs game earns highest preseason rating
  • Houston is a home game for McCardell

  • Rays
  • Angels win, but fans are show
  • Grieve starting to find power stroke

  • Other sports

    Baseball
  • MLB players poised to strike today
  • Whys and whats of a strike
  • Sites mobilize baseball fans, threaten walkout
  • Jays rock Clemens, Yanks
  • Cardinals get pitcher Wright for ailing staff
  • Cub makes switch-hit history
  • Game 1 in N.Y. belongs to L.A.

  • College football
  • Bulls strike often
  • Punt block keys Bulls 1st TD of the season
  • A stingy defense offers plenty to smile about
  • FIU wins inaugural game
  • Rix mirrors other Chris
  • Washington to play more for Seminoles
  • Secondary has some concerns

  • U.S. Open Tennis
  • Title IX question leaves Capriati without answer
  • Rain ends, routs are on for top players

  • NFL
  • Pats end Redskins' run; Spurrier taps Matthews
  • Around the NFC
  • Around the AFC

  • Et cetera
  • Sports briefs

  • Sports/TV
  • 'Skins-Bucs game earns highest preseason rating

  • Motorsports
  • Harvick's hot, and cool
  • France breaks hip, then has bypass
  • Minority team, Guard ready to race

  • Golf
  • Frost comes early for Canadian PGA event

  • Preps
  • Middleton set to play Wharton's JV squad
  • Pressure's on to start right
  • Money, competition spur teams
  • One half can prove a whole lot
  • Wildcats, Knights beat rain
  • Gators blank Leopards before lightning ends it
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