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Bucs' Rice fined for missing practice

Bucs quarterback Brad Johnson, named as a Pro Bowl replacement after Brett Favre and Michael Vick pulled out, practices for the NFC.

By RICK STROUD, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 1, 2003

HONOLULU -- Bucs defensive end Simeon Rice was fined $4,000 for missing an NFC team meeting and practice on Friday morning.

Rice, who is making his second Pro Bowl appearance and his first with the Bucs, said he was ill when team officials finally located him in his room at the Ihilani Resort. But since he never notified Eagles coach Andy Reid, his assistants or the Bucs staff attending the game, the absence was unexcused.

San Francisco receiver Terrell Owens also was fined $4,000 for an unexcused absence. Green Bay safety Darren Sharper also did not attend practice due to illness but was excused.

Rice and Owens are expected to return to practice today and will play in Sunday's Pro Bowl, league officials said.

CASES FOR THE HALL: Bucs defensive tackle Warren Sapp already likely was building aHall of Fame resume. Linebacker Derrick Brooks might have cemented his future enshrinement by winning defensive player of the year and being named to his sixth Pro Bowl. Safety John Lynch had a pretty good case to make the ballot, too.

And by winning Super Bowl XXXVII, all three might find their busts in Canton, Ohio.

"Before the Super Bowl, I would've said Sapp is on the verge," said John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, who serves on the Hall of Fame committee. "Derrick Brooks is getting close, especially after the season he had.

"And then Lynch. People go, 'John Lynch in the Hall of Fame?' I said if you measure him against other strong safeties, with the number of Pro Bowls and where the defense ranked and now this championship, I think he's got a really good chance."

SAPP SNOOZE: Sapp, an Orlando Magic season-ticket holder, was expected to be honored at halftime of Wednesday's game against Cleveland, but he didn't show. A representative for Sapp told the Magic he was asleep. "It's a well-deserved rest," Magic spokesman Joel Glass told the Orlando Sentinel.

QUOTABLE: "There will be a lot of pressure on the players, and he'll be the first to recognize that. The first day we meet, he'll say, 'Hey guys, they're paying me all this money. Now you've got to back it up.' Like I said, it's one less distraction we have to deal with to keep as much of this team together as possible. We may lose some guys because it's the National Football League, but to keep continuity in our defensive staff is a positive." -- Brooks, on the Bucs signing defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin to a three-year, $5.1-million contract.

SIGNINGS: The Bucs announced 10 reserve/future signings: receiver Todd Elstrom, offensive/defensive lineman Kyle Kipps, defensive tackle Josh McKibben, safety Than Merrill, cornerback James Rooths, safety Dwayne Stukes, running back Tony Taylor, receiver Antoine Tolliver, receiver Jermaine White and quarterback Greg Zolman.

Kipps, Stukes, Taylor and Tolliver were with the Bucs at some point in 2002 and Merrill was a Tampa Bay draft pick in 2001.

The contracts do not take effect until March1.

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