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Goal is efficient passing

By RICK STROUD

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 8, 2001


TAMPA -- There's a better chance old school coach Tony Dungy will have his ears pierced and visit a tattoo parlor before he opens up the offense this season.

But if everything goes as planned, you might swear Tampa Bay is working out of the St. Louis Rams playbook.

While the Bucs won't pass more, they should pass more accurately. That means more passing yards, touchdowns and presumably victories behind new quarterback Brad Johnson.

"What I would like to see is more completions and more touchdowns with about the same number of passes," Dungy said. "I just think we have (Warrick) Dunn and (Mike) Alstott and to throw more passes, it means you have to run less. I don't want to get to a point where we're not getting those two guys the ball. I would like to get it to the receivers more because we're throwing efficiently and we're completing 61 or 62 percent as opposed to 53 or 54 percent and I think the receivers will get the ball more."

Johnson owns a 61.8 completion percentage.

NEW JOB FOR RABIH: Every year it's the same thing. Rabih Abdullah leads the Bucs in rushing in the preseason, then takes a seat on the bench behind Dunn and Alstott.

But this season, Abdullah should see more playing time.

Offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen said the Bucs plan to play Abdullah exclusively at fullback. It's a role similar to Lorenzo Neal's several years ago and should help with the loss of tight end/fullback Patrick Hape to the Broncos.

"He has to be that guy," Christensen said. "He has to be the one playing 10 to 15 plays a game, blocking for Mike (Alstott) in short yardage. We think he can do it and we're giving him a shot."

MR. IMPULSE: Rejuvenated quarterback Ryan Leaf trusts his instincts, which sometimes has gotten him in trouble. But his impulses worked in the Bucs' favor after claiming him off waivers.

"He's a very impulsive guy," Dungy said. "He came in and was determined that he wasn't going to stay, he didn't want to be in this situation, it wasn't a good situation. I talked to him for a long time and wasn't fully able to convince him it would be and I think in his mind he was going to try and leave. Rich (McKay) talks to him for 15 minutes and after Rich's conversation he decides we're the best place in the world. He calls his wife, she flew out here that day, they bought a house the next day, he was throwing and working out the day after that.

"He's a lifelong Buccaneer."

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