In Thursday's afternoon session, the Bucs spent the opening period working on special teams with particular attention to blocking punts. So they handed over punting duties to linebackers coach Joe Barry asplayers attempted to come off the edge. "There are probably about 35 guys who each got a rep, and we did it from both sides. So that makes about 70 punts," Barry said. "But I'm young. I'm good-looking. I'm in shape. I can do it."
Barry, 34, modestly confirmed he was a punter in high school. And although he "wasn't all-state," he said he averaged about 40 yards. "I'm an athlete," Barry said.
Of course, defensive backs coach Mike Tomlin said Barry is a "former" athlete and had a slightly different scouting report.
"There was very little extension, if any," Tomlin said. "He needs work. He's going to have that hip on ice all night."
ROGER MILLS, Times staff writer
NAME: MARK JONES
POS: receiver/kick returner
HT./WT.: 5-9, 185
BACK IN THE DAY: It was just a year ago that the rookie made history during a 41-14 loss to Georgia. Jones snatched Casey Clausen's pass away from a defensive back and took it 90 yards for the longest pass play in Tennessee history.
TO MAKE THE TEAM: The Bucs could use a bit of everything Jones has to offer. In college, he caught passes, covered receivers and returned kicks. He can help most on special teams. Last year, he was third in the nation at 15.7 yards per punt return. Though he scored only once in 46 returns, he ran back one of his four kickoff returns for a score. "I have fun on special teams," he said.
LITTLE-KNOWN FACT: On May 22, Jones proposed to his high school sweetheart, Kati Kochersperger, 22, on the Knoxville campus after she graduated with a degree in psychology.
QUOTE: "I love it out here. It's something you always dream about. Derrick Brooks, Ronde Barber, you see these guys on TV, and now it's like I'm on the same field as them. But you know you have to prove yourself to them and to these coaches. But I'm enjoying it."
JAMAL THALJI, Times staff writer
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"Shaquille O'Neal was in there. I thought there were balls being batted back to me. I swear Manute Bol was playing defense," - Bucs coach Jon Gruden referencing the 7-foot-1 O'Neal and 7-6 Bol about the the defense batting down passes during the morning's red zone drill