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OL Mahan provides versatility
By JOANNE KORTH
Published August 27, 2005
When the Bucs finally decide on a starting offensive line, Sean Mahan will be in it.
Coaches are impressed with the third-year pro out of Notre Dame, who can play both guard positions and center. For now, Mahan is the projected starter at right guard, but his versatility gives the team options.
"There's nothing finalized, but right now Sean Mahan, when it's all said and done, might be our most consistent (lineman)," coach Jon Gruden said. "He's going to be a hard guy to keep off the field."
Mahan was thrust into duty for eight games last season when center John Wade dislocated his knee. The experience he gained better prepared him to compete for a starting job this season.
With left tackle Anthony Davis scheduled to start tonight's third preseason game against the Dolphins - Davis missed the second with a deep thigh bruise - the offensive line is taking shape: Davis and MattStinchcomb on the left, Wade at center, Mahan and Kenyatta Walker on the right.
Rookie Dan Buenning is pushing Stinchcomb at left guard.
"There's potential for change," Gruden said.
THE PRESSURE'S ON: Tuesday is the deadline for the team to trim its roster from 91 players to 65, plus exemptions. That means tonight is the last chance for several players to make an impression.
Handling that pressure is part of the process.
"You're trying to make the team, trying to get a job," Gruden said. "It's the last audition. A lot of hard work has gone into this that most people haven't seen or had any idea about.
"These guys have been here since March, a lot of them, or April, studying, training, working and putting forth a tremendous amount of energy. To have it all go for naught is certainly disappointing. So you've got to be sensitive to that and try to play the guys who merit playing time. It's a fine line there."
TOO REVEALING: The Bucs and Dolphins meet again when it counts, on Oct. 16 at Raymond James Stadium. Does that mean the game plans will be watered down?
It's the preseason.
The Bucs might be at a disadvantage already with former quarterback Jason Garrett, who was in training camp with the team in 2003, coaching that position for the Dolphins under Nick Saban.
"Jason Garrett's the quarterbacks coach down there, so I'm sure he has a pretty good idea of our snap count and what we're trying to do," Gruden said. "So we're at a major disadvantage."
Um, he was kidding.
INJURY REPORT: Fullback Rick Razzano (Achilles' tendon), guard Jeb Terry (knee) and tackle Derrick Deese (foot) will not play. Defensive tackle Anthony McFarland, who recently rejoined the team after the death of his mother, Nancey, will not play.