tampabay.com

Bucs' Cox deactivated following DUI arrest

By RICK STROUD
Published September 15, 2005


TAMPA - Cornerback Torrie Cox will be inactive for Sunday's game against the Bills following his second arrest for driving under the influence in nine months.

Coach Jon Gruden said Wednesday either receiver/punt returner Mark Jones or running back Michael Pittman will handle the kickoff return duties because of Cox's benching.

"I'll talk more about the players that are going to play. He's not playing," Gruden said. "His status will be decided upon later, but he ain't playing in this game.

"I look at every mistake differently. I'm not going to say anything more publicly other than this is going to be evaluated very carefully and there's a lot of logistics nowadays in modern football that you have to abide by. But I'm very disappointed and concerned and that's about all I'll say publicly."

Tampa Police arrested Cox at 3:19 a.m. Tuesday at the corner of Dale Mabry Highway and Carmen Street and charged him with one misdemeanor count of DUI.

He spent more than seven hours in a Hillsborough County jail before being released before noon after posting $500 bond. Cox was inactive for three games following his arrest last December for a similar incident. He eventually entered a plea of no contest to a reduced charge of reckless driving and was sentenced to probation.

Cox participated in practice Tuesday but declined comment.

"We met with him again today and expressed our displeasure with his behavior," general manager Bruce Allen said. "Yes, it's a problem. The first (arrest) is a problem. The second is a problem. They're isolated. There's a process that must be adhered to and he's been accused. But there's no reason for him to be out at that (3 a.m.) time.

"It's never been our policy to discuss any type of team punishment. We've talked to Torrie and he knows exactly where he stands right now."

In an unrelated move, the Bucs worked out 49ers free agent cornerback Willie Middlebrooks Tuesday but did not offer him a contract.

HOMEFIELD ADVANTAGE? The Bucs won last week in a dome, but can they win at home? Tampa Bay was 4-4 last season at Raymond James Stadium and just 3-5 in 2003.

In fact, the Bucs are a pedestrian 18-14 in the regular season at RJS since 2001. Re-establishing their home turf has been a point of emphasis this season.

"There were a lot of reasons, and it probably had to do with the same reason we went 5-11, not necessarily because we were playing at home or playing on the road," cornerback Ronde Barber said of the home struggles. "You do stupid stuff, you get yourself beat regardless of where you play.

"Sure, it's important. If you can't win at home, where can you win? It's the proverbial 12th man. You've got to get people excited about coming to Raymond James Stadium. It's been a while. ... It used to be when you came here, you expected a tough game. We've got to get back to that for sure."

SILENT TREATMENT: Last week, the offense practiced with blaring speakers drowning out their signals. This week, with the Bucs hoping for plenty of home crowd noise, the defense is working on using hand signals.

"Our fans are usually loud when the defense is on the field," linebacker Derrick Brooks said. "I think from my standpoint, we respect that. So a lot of things we do we'll go off hand signals and wristbands when we're playing at home. Something we addressed this morning is our defensive communication. With the first home game, hopefully fans will come revved up. A young quarterback and an offense playing in our home is something you have got to account for."

WAKE UP THE IRISH: Quarterback Brian Griese stepped to the podium for his weekly news conference Wednesday and sheepishly donned a Notre Dame cap. The Fighting Irish defeated Griese's alma mater, Michigan, on Saturday and he lost a bet with former golden domer Sean Mahan .

"This is a sad, sad day for me," Griese said. "Sean Mahan got me. I'm a man of my word, though. I'm going to take it like a man. This thing is already giving me a headache, though."

INJURIES: Guard Matt Stinchcomb (lower back strain) is listed as questionable for Sunday's game against the Bills.