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Players' work starts well before camp

By ROGER MILLS

© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 17, 2001


TAMPA -- Coach Tony Dungy has said he believes that if the team puts in significant effort during the voluntary workouts of May and June, it will reap the benefits when training camp begins July 29.

So as players scampered out of One Buc Place Thursday to officially begin their vacations, here are some intriguing questions:

How have they adjusted to the scheme of new offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen?

Is Brad Johnson on pace to take the reins from Shaun King?

Does Warrick Dunn like his role as the primary ball carrier? Does Mike Alstott?

More important, has progress been made?

"I think we are progressing," Christensen said. "I liked the attitude. I liked that we've had guys here. I think the guys that we needed to progress, the Mike Alstotts and the Brad Johnsons, they've progressed as we've needed them to. As a unit, we're still a little bit behind."

Dungy said he was very pleased with the participation in the workouts and thinks sufficient strides were made to enable the club to jump right into camp.

"The approach that these guys have had has been good," Dungy said. "I think we have a base, a foundation for what we're doing. Our young guys have learned what our fundamentals are and now when we come back to camp, they'll have a chance to step in with both feet and show what they can do."

While the focus has been on a new offensive identity, the defense, which features two new starters and two new position coaches, got more familiar with its players.

"No. 1, we had such participation," safety John Lynch said. "The way we worked, we have to feel real good about where we're at. What this does is allow you to hit training camp and not be installing new things. You're not moving at a slow pace, you're refining things."

NOW WHAT?: With six weeks of free time, Dungy said the responsibility lies with the players to not drop off.

"They have to do what it takes individually for them to be the best they can be," Dungy said. "For some guys, that's being here and continuing on because they need that regimented work. For other guys, it's going to some of the speed camps. For some guys, it's going home to their college campus where all the pros come back and make it very competitive."

And is staying home and chillin' an option?

"I suppose it is," he said. "And maybe for that 1 percent that it works that way, that's good. But for most guys, it isn't."

Added Lynch: "We talked briefly as a team that we should not let all the hard work go to waste."

NOW THAT'S A BABY: Fathers Day has a true ring at the home of defensive end Marcus Jones. His wife, Bethany, gave birth to the couple's second child and first son at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday at St. Joseph's Women's Hospital. Kauai Jones was a whopping 9 pounds and 22 inches long. Makes sense because Marcus is 6 feet 6 and 278 pounds.

"It's going to take some hard work raising him," said Jones, who returned to practice Thursday. "It'll have to be a team effort."

INJURY REPORT: Fifth-round draft pick Russ Hochstein hobbled around practice on crutches and in a walking boot because of a broken left foot. It is not expected to keep him out of training camp.

Receiver Reidel Anthony missed his third day of workouts with a left ankle sprain.

"Reidel is probably the most serious right now," Dungy said. "It's going to take some rehab and some time just jogging, running straight ahead and then cutting and he's going to have to go through that whole process. But we feel like we should have everyone for the first day of camp."

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