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Bears may look at King

By RICK STROUD, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 20, 2003

INDIANAPOLIS -- It could be a Bear market for Shaun King in free agency.

The Bucs quarterback has a big fan in Bears general manager Jerry Angelo, who plans to bring in a new quarterback either through the draft or free agency.

"Where the deal is on Shaun, I feel it's still going up," Angelo said. "He's a young player. I think he's had some very good opportunities in Tampa. Unfortunately, they didn't come to fruition like he would've wanted, but that doesn't mean to say he can't play. He's got some good genetic gifts, he's a good kid. You know, the experience that he's picked up down there should bode well, assuming that he has a next stop. If he doesn't go back to Tampa."

King, 25, wrestled the No. 2 quarterback spot away from Rob Johnson and started Dec. 23 against Pittsburgh on Monday Night Football.

But in his first start in nearly two years, King completed just 9 of 26 passes for 73 yards in a 17-7 loss to the Steelers. His second attempt was intercepted and returned for a touchdown by cornerback Chad Brown. King was replaced in the third quarter by Johnson and spent the rest of the season as the third quarterback.

But King is 15-10 as a starter and helped the Bucs to the NFC Championship Game as a rookie in 1999.

"Hidden is a good word," Angelo said. "Hopefully he's a gem and not a rock. The thing about it is that history tells you, you see guys that have been in those situations that go off and do well. They just learn. They grow up. And having personal knowledge of Shaun, I like Shaun."

The Bears are looking to replace Jim Miller and Chris Chandler, who both were injured most of last season. They have the fourth pick in the draft and could select Marshall's Byron Left-wich.

"We need one, I can tell you that," Angelo said. "Not to be disrespectful to the ones we have, but they just haven't been durable. And that's a big part of the position, obviously. So we just have to wait until the free-agent period starts and see what our positions are. We've done some homework on quite a few of them. We're looking at the draft. This is a big time of the year for us as well. Between both of those pools, hopefully we can come up with something."

BUCS TALK TO McGAHEE: The Bucs interviewed former Miami running back Willie McGahee, who is recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament Jan. 3 in the Fiesta Bowl.

McGahee could be an intriguing player for the Bucs, who do not have a pick until the 64th.

McGahee walked without a limp and said he might begin running in a few months.

"(The doctors) say they've never seen anything like it," McGahee said. "They're very surprised. I know what I can do, so I'm not worried about it. I plan on playing. I'm not worried about sitting out next year."

Dr. Walter Lowe, the team doctor for the Texans, examined McGahee Wednesday and said the running back could fully recover: "All indications are that he's going to get well. But he's still got a long way to go. He needs to focus on getting well, and he shouldn't be in a hurry."

McGahee said he plans to play next season and predicts he could gain 1,000 yards as a rookie. He also was interviewed by the Saints, Rams and Cowboys.

PROMOTIONS: The Bucs promoted Jeff Kamis to director of communications and named Zack Bolno communications manager. Kamis took over from Reggie Roberts, who was dismissed before last season.

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