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Tampa Bay ready to ride it out with Gramatica

Published September 1, 2004

TAMPA - Despite his woes in the preseason and clear indications from the coaching staff that he needs to get his form back, kicker Martin Gramatica received a vote of confidence Tuesday when the Bucs released the only other kicker on the roster, rookie Nicholas Setta.

Coach Jon Gruden essentially ruled out the chances of picking up a kicker at this point and said the Bucs are determined to help Gramatica get through his funk.

"He's been kicking the ball great the last two days and been under some intense fire," Gruden said. "He's responded well. I think he's going to be fine. We have to prove that, but I do believe he's going to be fine."

Two years removed from converting 32 of 39 field goals (82.1 percent), Gramatica hasn't kicked well since and is 5-for-8 in the preseason.

TWIN WRITERS: Cornerback Ronde Barber and his twin brother, Giants running back Tiki, are new authors of a children's book, By My Brother's Side. The 29-page book, full of colorful drawings of their childhood days in Roanoke, Va., goes on sale today for $16.95.

"A lot of siblings are close, but you don't get it put down (on paper) a lot," Ronde said. "The book kind of shows how we are. It seems kind of hokey and corny, but that's the way we are. That's the way we still are."

The book, written with Robert Burleigh and illustrated by Barry Root, takes readers through a summer of growing pains for the twins who were challenged when Tiki broke his leg riding a bicycle down a hill.

"We didn't go down that hill again," Ronde said.

Here's an interesting line from the book: "It's a serious injury," Dr. Myers answered. "I'm not sure (Tiki) will ever play sports again."

THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO HMMM!: From the world of interesting comments comes this from Bucs general manager Bruce Allen, as told to SI.com:

"I think age is a meaningless number as long as you're productive. It's all about production, I've seen some old guys at 24, but I've seen some really young guys at 34. What we've done is less of a risk when it's players you have some history with (such as all the ex-Raiders), or players you've done your research on.

"And veteran players are more adaptable to a new environment than if you brought in 25 rookies who aren't ready to play in the NFL and don't understand what it takes to play in the league. But each guy we got we did some good homework on and there's a relationship with maybe another guy on the team or a coach on this team. We tried to approach it that way."

In the 34th day of his holdout, receiver Keenan McCardell, 34, is waiting for a new contract. The Bucs have refused, maintaining that their stance has nothing to do with his age.

QUARTERBACK SHUFFLE: Keeping with their promise to rotate the backup quarterbacks, the Bucs will give veteran Brian Griese a chance to play with the second unit Thursday against the Texans.

Brad Johnson is scheduled to start and likely play a series or two before handing it over to Griese. Second-year player Chris Simms will finish the game.

"It's a good battle, I think both guys have done some good things," Gruden said. "I'm really confident about the quarterback position. It all starts at the top with Brad Johnson. Chris Simms has showcased his talent all summer and Brian Griese is still a darned good football player."

ROBERTS BACK IN THE LEAGUE: Former Bucs spokesman Reggie Roberts, out of the league for the past two years, is the new vice president of football communications for the Falcons.

"(Owner) Arthur Blank has offered me a very unique opportunity to resume my career in the NFL," said Roberts, who was let go by the Bucs after the team fired Tony Dungy and hired Gruden. "He and his team have a clear and well defined plan for success on and off the field. I look forward to joining the organization."

[Last modified September 1, 2004, 01:10:40]

Today's lineup

  • Whittle's dealt as the Bucs trim to 65
  • Tampa Bay ready to ride it out with Gramatica

  • Rays
  • Tough loss has Lou speechless
  • Ailing shoulder sidelines Crawford

  • Other sports

  • AL: Bosox continue charge up East
  • Cards' Ankiel might stick around for playoffs
  • NL: Astros blasts back Backe
  • Yanks take record loss

  • College football
  • Seminole savors second chance
  • Caution trumps football at Citadel
  • FSU, Miami discuss possible rescheduling

  • Colleges
  • First-year USF coach strives for unity first
  • Volleyball outlook
  • Fitzgerald back home for tonight's match

  • Hockey
  • St. Louis, Canada edge Americans

  • In brief
  • Woods' slump may affect PGA's TV deal

  • Motorsports
  • IRL race gets green light

  • NFL
  • AFC: Sanders gets one year with Ravens
  • NFC: Hambrick traded to Cards

  • Outdoors
  • Daily fishing report

  • Preps
  • Allen back on course again
  • No favorites leap out yet
  • Royal Knights rally to defeat Mustangs
  • Schools, clubs still share top talent
  • Two-team hegemony in danger

  • Tennis
  • Davenport on a roll down the stretch
  • Safin out of another U.S. Open

  • WNBA
  • Staley's back to the daily grind
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