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Anthony complements star receiver

By ROGER MILLS, ERNEST HOOPER, RICK STROUD

© St. Petersburg Times, published August 1, 2000


TAMPA -- Keyshawn Johnson is a superstar. But he will need a supporting cast of receivers for Tampa Bay's passing game to be successful. So far, Bucs coach Tony Dungy is pleased with the development of his other pass catchers.

"You want to be a complete team. You want to have the complete package, and they are some guys who can get open and catch the ball. We certainly need them to do that," Dungy said.

Dungy was particularly complimentary of Reidel Anthony, who is attempting to bounce back from an injury-plagued '99 season. But like many of the Bucs receivers, Anthony struggled against the bump-and-run coverage of the Miami Dolphins in the joint workouts last week in Orlando.

photo
[Times photo: Toni L. Sandys]
Reidel Anthony hopes to erase the memories of his 1999 season.
"I thought the first week here was very good," Dungy said. "(Reidel) was getting open, catching the ball. He's a very smart guy. He understands what we're doing, which really helps him. He didn't maybe turn it up as much as I would've hoped to in Orlando. But I think he's doing well."

EUROPEAN EXPERIENCE: Backup quarterback Scott Milanovich is in his fourth training camp with the Bucs, but he never came to camp with NFL Europe experience.

This preseason is different. Milanovich has come into camp after spending the summer with the Berlin Thunder. Milanovich completed 148 of 265 passes for 1,651 yards and 12 touchdowns for the Thunder.

"After having not played for four years -- other than some preseason games here and there -- it was good to be under center for a whole game and lead the team, be the man, feel the rush," Milanovich said. "Even though the football is obviously not as good, it was good for my confidence. I got a ton of throws. I think it was a positive."

Milanovich and his wife also got to do a lot of European sightseeing. Milanovich even got a chance to play golf at St. Andrews in Scotland.

"I think I'm going to look back on it as being a better experience than I did when I was over there cramped up in a hotel.

"It was good, it was fun."

The European experience reinforced Milanovich's belief he can play in the NFL, and that all he needs is an opportunity. Opportunities are hard to come by, however, with four quarterbacks in camp.

Milanovich has to split the third-string reps with rookie Joe Hamilton, and starter Shaun King will need added playing time because he's learning a new offense.

Still, Milanovich remains positive:

"There's always four guys here. The older you get in this league, the more you learn not to worry about all that other stuff, and I don't. I got a lot of respect for Joe. He's a great player, and I loved watching him play. We'll both battle and see what happens."

HURTING HENRY: Tight end Henry Lusk, who fractured a knuckle on his left hand Saturday in Orlando, said the injury likely will keep him out of action for about three to four days. Although he's one of a number of tight ends fighting for a few roster spots, Lusk is upbeat about where he stands.

"When I got hurt, and I'm not sure exactly what period throughout the day it was, but I believe our offense was clicking, so that's encouraging," Lusk said.

"To me, that was an indication that I can do it. So now, I just have to get myself ready and get back out there and pick up where I left off."

At 6-2, 250 pounds, Lusk is locked in a battle with Dave Moore, Patrick Hape, James Whalen, Lovett Purnell, Todd Yoder and Jason Freeman for what likely could be four spots.

"My speed and my hands are by far the assets that I have," Lusk said. "Some people questioned my blocking in my rookie year and each year I have paid attention to my blocking. Now, blocking is not a problem for me."

NUMBERS GAME: The Bucs have four quarterbacks in camp, and there has been talk that they could enter the season with all four on the roster.

But Dungy didn't exactly endorse the idea:

"I would say it's unusual. I don't know if we will keep four quarterbacks but you always try to keep your best players, the guys who will give you a chance to win and improve down the road."

Last year, the Bucs finished the season with four quarterbacks on the roster after signing Milanovich when starter Trent Dilfer fractured his collarbone. Dungy said that was a rare case.

"I wouldn't rule it out, but I wouldn't say it's something we are likely to do," he said.

MORE PLAYING TIME: It is common practice that the starting quarterback play only the first quarter of the first preseason game. But considering the Bucs are learning a new offense, King is likely to play well into the second quarter.

"Shaun needs a certain amount (of work), more than most first-team quarterbacks," Dungy said. "I saw the highlights the other night and I saw Peyton Manning still in in the second quarter, which is unusual in the first preseason game. But I think when you have young guys you have to play them and that condenses down the time the other guys get."

PRESEASON COUNTS: It is a common belief that preseason results mean nothing, but the Bucs aren't looking at it that way.

"I would like to win them all, I always like to," Dungy said. "I think it's better for you. You build those habits and get used to winning. Somebody pointed out to us last year that it's been years since a team went 4-0 and didn't make the playoffs. I think there's something to that. It means that you're playing well and when you're playing well you have a better chance to do things."

BUCS BITS: Linebacker Derrick Brooks returned to practice Monday after missing the four practices with a cut in the webbing between the fourth and fifth fingers of his right hand. ... Perhaps inspired by the arrival of President Bill Clinton, kicker Martin Gramatica converted five of his six field-goal attempts. One kick was blocked by linebacker Al Singleton. ... Both practice sessions today are closed to the public. It's family day. Training camp will reopen to the public at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday.

INJURY REPORT: Safety Damien Robinson (left hamstring), tight end Hape (right foot fracture), linebacker Kinnon Tatum (lower back strain), tight end Whalen (left hamstring), safety Ashley Cooper (right patellar tendon) and cornerback Tarig Holman (left hamstring) are will not play in Friday's preseason opener against the Redskins. Defensive end Mawuko Tugbenyo (left ankle) is doubtful, and left tackle Pete Pierson (left hamstring), Lusk (right hand fracture), S David Gibson (lowe back) are questionable. Defensive end Marcus Jones (left groin) and receiver Jacquez Green (hip flexor) are probable.

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