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Buccaneers offensive capsules

[Times photo: Brian Baer 1998]
Running back Mike Alstott, shown fighting off Panthers defender Brent Alexander, likely will be called on to carry the ball in short-yardage situations and at the end of games. He also will block for Michael Pittman.

By Times staff
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 6, 2002

Mike Alstott

  • HT/WT: 6-1, 248.
  • POSITION: Fullback/running back.
  • COLLEGE: Purdue.
  • NFL EXPERIENCE: Seventh season.
  • HOW ACQUIRED: D2, '96.
  • ROLE: Despite a change in offensive coordinator and a new contract, Alstott's role won't change significantly. He'll block for Michael Pittman, he'll get carries in short-yardage situations and late in games to ice victories.

Darian Barnes

  • HT/WT: 6-2, 250.
  • POSITION: Fullback.
  • COLLEGE: Hampton.
  • HOW ACQUIRED: Waivers, '02
  • ROLE: Barnes will replace Jameel Cook as the blocking fullback if Cook isn't ready by Sunday's opener. It's unclear what role, if any, he'll play once Cook is healthy.

Marco Battaglia.

  • HT/WT: 6-3, 249.
  • POSITION: Tight end.
  • COLLEGE: Rutgers.
  • NFL EXPERIENCE: Seventh season.
  • HOW ACQUIRED: Free agent, '02.
  • ROLE: Coach Jon Gruden made it clear he likes Battaglia's hardnosed approach the idea of two-tight end sets. Battaglia was brought on board to block and will have ample opportunity, even playing behind Ken Dilger,

Lomas Brown

  • HT/WT: 6-4, 280.
  • POSITION: Tackle.
  • COLLEGE: Florida.
  • NFL EXPERIENCE: 18th season.
  • HOW ACQUIRED: Free agent, '02
  • ROLE: With Roman Oben solidified as the starting left tackle, Brown will provide experience and support in a backup role and also serve as a mentor to the younger linemen.

Jeff Christy.

  • HT/WT: 6-3, 285.
  • POSITION: Center.
  • COLLEGE: Pittsburgh.
  • NFL EXPERIENCE: 10th season.
  • HOW ACQUIRED: Free agent, 2000.
  • ROLE: Christy admits that during the offseason he heard rumors he was on his way out. He said he paid no attention, and he anchors a revamped offensive line under a new coordinator.

Cosey Coleman.

  • HT/WT: 6-4, 322.
  • POSITION: Guard.
  • COLLEGE: Tennessee.
  • NFL EXPERIENCE: Third season.
  • HOW ACQUIRED: D2, 2000.
  • ROLE: Coleman arguably was the most consistent player on an offensive line that struggled as a unit. In his first season as a starter he proved more than competent in pass- and run-blocking and will be expected to take another step forward. He'll start at right guard when he's healthy. Gruden and offensive line coach Bill Muir like the toughness Coleman exhibits.

Jameel Cook.

  • HT/WT: 5-10, 237.
  • POSITION: Fullback.
  • COLLEGE: Illinois.
  • NFL EXPERIENCE: Second year.
  • HOW ACQUIRED: D6, '01.
  • ROLE: Cook had a solid if not impressive rookie season but was rewarded by being moved further down the depth chart. With the arrival of Michael Pittman, Cook's play at fullback may be reduced, and he likely will only block for Alstott.

Ken Dilger.

  • HT/WT: 6-5, 255.
  • POSITION: Tight end.
  • COLLEGE: Illinois.
  • NFL EXPERIENCE: Eighth season.
  • HOW ACQUIRED: Free agent, '02
  • ROLE: After meeting with Gruden at a Hooters restaurant in Indianapolis during the NFL Combine, it was clear the two men share common philosophies on life and football. Providing his knees hold up, the Pro Bowl player should be critical, could catch about 40 passes and get into the end zone half a dozen times.

Cornell Green

  • POSITION: Guard/Tackl
  • COLLEGE: Central Florida.
  • NFL EXPERIENCE: 3rd season.
  • HOW ACQUIRED: Trade (Miami), '02
  • ROLE: He will being the season as the starting right tackle, and will keep the job as long as Kenyatta Walker continues to struggle. If Walker develops, however, Green will split playing time.

Russ Hochstein.

  • HT/WT: 6-3, 288.
  • POSITION: Guard.
  • COLLEGE: Nebraska.
  • NFL EXPERIENCE: 2nd season.
  • HOW ACQUIRED: D5, 2001.
  • ROLE: Counting on to back up Kerry Jenkins at left guard. A solid run blocker, he's a couple years away from a starting job but could play a key role in special teams.

Kerry Jenkins.

  • HT/WT: 6-5, 305.
  • POSITION: Left guard.
  • COLLEGE: Troy State.
  • NFL EXPERIENCE: Fifth season.
  • HOW ACQUIRED: Free agent, '02
  • ROLE: Jenkins replaces Randall McDaniel as the starting left guard. He will help the unit acclimate to new line coach Bill Muir's approach. Jenkins played for Muir in New York the past four seasons.

Brad Johnson.

  • HT/WT: 6-5, 226.
  • POSITION: Quarterback.
  • COLLEGE: Florida State.
  • NFL EXPERIENCE: 11th season.
  • HOW ACQUIRED: Free agent, '01
  • ROLE: The Bucs loved his accuracy last season and Gruden will try to turn that into more touchdowns. Barring an injury Johnson will be the starter and should flourish under Gruden's quarterback-friendly approach. His reputation for sharing the wealth likely will be critical considering the number of weapons at his disposal.

Keyshawn Johnson.

  • HT/WT: 6-4, 212.
  • POSITION: Receiver.
  • COLLEGE: Southern Cal.
  • NFL EXPERIENCE: Seventh season.
  • HOW ACQUIRED: Trade, 2000.
  • ROLE: He may not catch 106 balls, he may no longer be considered the "primary receiver," but make no mistake, Johnson again will be a prominent factor in the scheme. With less of a burden to do the supernatural, Johnson may have his most rewarding season. After all, Gruden was kept Tim Brown and Jerry Rice happy.

Rob Johnson.

  • HT/WT: 6-4, 212.
  • POSITION: Quarterback.
  • COLLEGE: Southern California.
  • NFL EXPERIENCE: Eighth season.
  • HOW ACQUIRED: Free agent, '02.
  • ROLE: The minute he signed rumors began swirling that he is perfectly suited for Gruden's quarterback philosophy. He makes plays with his hands and feet and is younger than Brad Johnson. He likely will serve as the No. 2 quarterback, barring an injury or a 2-5 start by Brad Johnson.

Joe Jurevicius.

  • HT/WT: 6-5, 230.
  • POSITION: Receiver.
  • COLLEGE: Penn State.
  • NFL EXPERIENCE: Fifth season.
  • HOW ACQUIRED: Free agent, '02
  • ROLE: Jurevicius should get his hands on a few passes and should blossom under Gruden's belief that the bigger the receiver, the more apt he is to catch the ball. He won't play ahead of Keyshawn Johnson or Keenan McCardell, but he'll be in there frequently.

Shaun King.

  • HT/WT: 6-0, 225.
  • POSITION: Quarterback.
  • COLLEGE: Tulane.
  • NFL EXPERIENCE: Fourth season.
  • HOW ACQUIRED: D2, 1999.
  • ROLE: No one can deny King's future with the Bucs is in question. In consecutive seasons the team has brought in quarterbacks and pushed him further down the depth chart. He probably will have to wait for an injury.

Keenan McCardell.

  • HT/WT: 6-1, 191.
  • POSITION: Receiver.
  • COLLEGE: Nevada-Las Vegas.
  • NFL EXPERIENCE: 11th season.
  • HOW ACQUIRED: Free agent, '02.
  • ROLE: He's a proven producer with enough experience to catch on immediately. Able to to get the short, medium and long ball, McCardell should provide the Bucs with a stable and consistent receiving pair in combination with Keyshawn Johnson. After 10 seasons he really wants a ring.

Roman Oben.

  • HT/WT: 6-4, 305.
  • POSITION: Left/right tackle.
  • COLLEGE: Louisville.
  • NFL EXPERIENCE: Seventh season.
  • HOW ACQUIRED: Free agent, '02.
  • ROLE: Oben is a veteran who has emerged as the starter at left tackle. where the Bucs hope to shore up the line after moving Kenyatta Walker to his college position on the right side.

Michael Pittman.

  • HT/WT: 6-0, 218.
  • POSITION: Running back.
  • COLLEGE: Fresno State.
  • NFL EXPERIENCE: Fifth season.
  • HOW ACQUIRED: Free agent, '02.
  • ROLE: Pittman takes over for the departed Warrick Dunn, but with a different running style. A physical specimen with bulging biceps and solid speed, Pittman likely will get 15-18 touches a game, and some will be as a receiver. He has a shot to help Tampa forget the well-respected Dunn.

Aaron Stecker.

  • HT/WT: 5-10, 205.
  • POSITION: Running back.
  • COLLEGE: Western Illinois.
  • NFL EXPERIENCE: Third season.
  • HOW ACQUIRED: Free agent, '99.
  • ROLE: There likely will be few carries for Stecker out of the traditional running back set. The Bucs seem set with Pittman and Alstott carrying the load. Stecker likely must make his impact on special teams again this season.

Travis Stephens

  • HT/WT: 5-8, 194.
  • POSITION: Running back.
  • COLLEGE: Tennessee.
  • HOW ACQUIRED: D4, 2002.
  • ROLE: As the fourth option to carry the ball, he'll get limited chances this season. But he does have the eye of Coach Gruden, and could have value as a kick or punt returner.

Kenyatta Walker.

  • HT/WT: 6-5, 302.
  • POSITION: Offensive tackle.
  • COLLEGE: Florida.
  • NFL EXPERIENCE: Second season.
  • HOW ACQUIRED: D1, '01.
  • ROLE: There were high points and low points last season for Walker, but he can't afford such ups and downs this season. He has moved back to his college position at right tackle, where he seems more comfortable.

Marquise Walker.

  • HT/WT: 6-2, 219.
  • POSITION: Receiver.
  • COLLEGE: Michigan.
  • ROLE: The Bucs needed to address the receiver position in the draft and were happy to get Walker in the third round. Problem is, he's not likely to see a whole lot of snaps in the base offense. Walker likely will get his chances, at least initially, on special teams.

Todd Washington.

  • HT/WT: 6-3, 324.
  • POSITION: Center/guard.
  • COLLEGE: Virginia Tech.
  • NFL EXPERIENCE: Fifth season.
  • HOW ACQUIRED: D4, '98.
  • ROLE: He had a chance to test the free market, but in the end Washington stayed with Tampa Bay. He was projected to play behind Jeff Christy, but the training camp injury to Cosey Coleman gave him a chance to start at right guard, at least for a while.

Karl Williams.

  • HT/WT: 5-10, 177.
  • POSITION: Receiver.
  • COLLEGE: Texas A&M Kingsville.
  • NFL EXPERIENCE: Seventh season.
  • HOW ACQUIRED: Free agent, '96.
  • ROLE: Under the previous regime Williams always found ways to make a play or have an impact. But he doesn't seem to have the body prototype Gruden likes in receivers. One thing that can't be taken from Williams is his punt return consistency: It's the most likely avenue for him to contribute this season.

Todd Yoder.

  • HT/WT: 6-4, 250.
  • POSITION: Tight end.
  • COLLEGE: Vanderbilt.
  • NFL EXPERIENCE: Third season.
  • HOW ACQUIRED: Free agent, 2000.
  • ROLE: One of the first things Gruden did when he came to Tampa Bay was stress how much of an upgrade the tight end spot needed. Yoder, who has improved in his first two seasons, will play behind Dilger and Battaglia, but mostly on special teams.


photo Martin Gramatica and Tom Tupa celebrate after a field goal in the preseason game vs. the Redskins.

[Times photo:
Toni L. Sandys]

Martin Gramatica.

  • HT/WT: 5-8, 170.
  • POSITION: Placekicker.
  • COLLEGE: Kansas State.
  • NFL EXPERIENCE: Third season.
  • HOW ACQUIRED: D3, '99.
  • ROLE: He will handle the team's placekicking duties and will have some hype to live up to. In the NFL Films preview, Gruden is overheard telling the team it can get "three points any time it wants."

Tom Tupa

  • HT/WT: 6-4, 225
  • POSITION: Punter
  • COLLEGE: Ohio State
  • NFL EXPERIENCE: 14th season
  • HOW ACQUIRED: Free agent, '02
  • ROLE: Once a Pro Bowl punter, Tupa will be responsible for all punts. As a former quarterback, he provides an emergency arm.

Mike Solwold

  • HT/WT: 6-6, 244
  • POSITION: Long snapper
  • COLLEGE: Wisconsin
  • NFL EXPERIENCE: Second season
  • HOW ACQUIRED: Free agent, '02
  • ROLE: Pretty simple: He has to snap the ball to Tom Tupa, who punts or holds the ball for Gramatica.

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