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Randall signs on as third quarterback
By STEPHEN F. HOLDER
Published October 3, 2006
TAMPA - So much for acquiring that veteran quarterback.
The Bucs decided adding a little insurance was preferable to staking the season on a new acquisition as they signed Bryan Randall to the practice squad Monday.
Randall, undrafted out of Virginia Tech last season, spent 2005 on the Falcons' practice squad before being released this preseason. Signing Randall is probably more for practice purposes as rookie Bruce Gradkowski is unavailable for scout-team duty since becoming the starter.
The move could indicate that the Bucs will stand pat at quarterback. It appears likely Gradkowski and veteran backup Tim Rattay will be the lone quarterbacks on the roster when the Bucs visit New Orleans on Sunday.
Starter Chris Simms was lost Sept. 24 when he ruptured his spleen, a possible season-ending injury.
Several skill-position players have taken snaps just in case, though it is unlikely those options would be used.
"We've got some guys, some sleeping-giant candidates who we won't announce," coach Jon Gruden said. "We have used this bye week to get three or four guys some reps so we could evaluate who could do what. God forbid that happens, but if need be we would be able to go out and finish a football game."
With backup Luke McCown closer to his return from offseason knee surgery, the Bucs have suggested there is no need to sign a quarterback to the active roster, especially with a slim selection of options on the free-agent market.
Should an appealing trade arise, the Bucs remain willing to consider a deal.
Gradkowski spent much free time during the bye weekend working hand-in-hand with Gruden. But the real result of that work won't be known until Sunday.
Meanwhile, Simms appears to be making a quick recovery. Gruden said Simms was expected to visit the team's practice facility Monday afternoon, two days after being released from the hospital.
Rattay, who was scheduled to earn $1.25-million this fall, has restructured his contract but still might earn a comparable salary now that he has risen to No. 2 on the depth chart.
The new deal calls for a base salary of $800,000 plus a signing bonus of $200,000. However, it also calls for Rattay to earn $31,250 for each game he is first or second on the depth chart, with a maximum of $250,000.
JOSEPH CLOSE: Gruden expressed hope last week that first-round pick Davin Joseph could attempt to practice this week after missing four weeks with a knee injury. But on Monday the starting right guard went home ill with a virus.
Even if Joseph practices in the team's next workout, on Wednesday, it would give him only three days of practice after a long period out of the lineup. That makes him a long shot to play against the Saints.
HAPPY, HOSTILE CROWD: The Bucs have been trying to simulate the ruckus expected in the Superdome on Sunday by piping crowd noise into practices, but that probably won't be a true indication of what the stadium will feel like judging by the Saints' first game there last week.
"I tried to say that to these guys," Gruden said. "You don't know what you're going into. You're not going into another domed stadium on the road. You're going into an atmosphere that we'll try to simulate, but we're going to have a hard time doing that. These people are very excited about the return of football in the Superdome, and they should be.
"This is a great story in society, in America, if you ask me. It's the re-emergence of one of our great cities, and the Saints are helping them gain momentum in bringing that city back. It's quite a story."