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QBs learn system in classroom

By RICK STROUD, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 16, 2003

TAMPA -- Zebra Trojan, far west, right slot, X short, 200 jet smoke, X choice.

If you are a quarterback in the Bucs offense, you would understand the above sentence represents a simple crossing route.

In fact, the play resulted in a 23-yard completion from Brad Johnson to Joe Jurevicius that led to the tying field goal in the first quarter of the Bucs' 48-21 win over the Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII.

Jon Gruden's offense is brilliant. Nobody said it was easy.

That's why Gruden will huddle in a dark classroom with the hum of a video machine and drill the quarterbacks on every facet of the position for weeks beginning Monday.

"We spend a lot of time together going over every aspect of our system and trying to get friendly and get a full understanding of what's going on in the NFL on defense," Gruden said. "It's a lot of time. It's just a lot of work. It's individual private work, it's classroom work, it's on the field. It's over and over repetition. It involves a true commitment by the player. You've got to really love football, I think, to thrive in our system."

Three quarterbacks will attend quarterback orientation: starter Brad Johnson, Shane Matthews (who agreed to a one-year deal Friday) and undrafted free agent Greg Zolman.

The Bucs plan to add at least one more veteran quarterback this offseason, most likely Shaun King, and possibly draft one. Players such as Texas quarterback Ryan Simms and Louisville's Dave Ragone could be enticing if available with the 64th overall pick, the Bucs' first choice in the draft.

NEVER PROMISED A ROSE GARDEN: Super Bowl champions traditionally enjoy a reception with the president at the White House. But with a possible war against Iraq looming, the Bucs' trip to Washington, planned for March 7, has been postponed indefinitely.

White House officials are in contact with the Bucs and have told them to be prepared for a hastily arranged visit when an opportunity arrives. Players return for offseason workouts this month, making it easier to make arrangements.

CELEBRATION: A long-awaited agreement between the Bucs and Disney's Wide World of Sports to return training camp to Lake Buena Vista in July should come this week. The world champions will return to the Celebration Hotel.

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