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B. Johnson starts to work on 'chemistry'

By ROGER MILLS and DARRELL FRY

© St. Petersburg Times,
published August 8, 2001


photo
[Times photo: Toni L. Sandys]
Running back Aaron Stecker cuts through traffic in kick return practice during the afternoon session at Pepin/Rood Stadium.
TAMPA -- Veteran quarterback Brad Johnson, expected to start for the Bucs on opening day, has returned to 11-on-11 drills in the nick of time.

With Week 2 of training camp past, Johnson will get a crash course in developing chemistry with a crop of receivers with whom he has yet to play.

"I think you develop chemistry by making plays and feeling confident with each other, feeling comfortable with each other," Johnson said. "We're going to make mistakes, there are going to be dropped balls, bad balls thrown, but I think the biggest deal is to be able to communicate after the fact and not let one bad play dictate what's going to happen on the very next play."

"You talk about the Joe Montanas and Jerry Rices, they worked together for 17 years. We don't have that kind of time, but I think we can build and have great relationships."

One way to do that will be to make sure none of his receivers feels left out. Even though Keyshawn Johnson is the No. 1 receiver, Johnson said getting the ball to the others also is important.

"I think one of the strengths of my career over the years is that I've been able to spread the ball around to a lot of different guys," Johnson said. "Whether it's getting the ball downfield to the receivers or hitting backs in the check-downs, I think I try to keep everyone alert. Everyone can get the ball dictated on the coverage."

NO MOVEMENT: More than a week into Derrick Brooks' holdout, the situation is no closer to being resolved.

Brooks' agent, Roosevelt Barnes said there has been little negotiation in the past few days and no talks are scheduled.

"Nothing's really changed," Barnes told the Times. "I'm still optimistic because we've always been able to work things out with Tampa Bay."

Barnes said Brooks, who has yet to report to camp because he wants a new contract, continues to work out daily while monitoring the situation.

"It definitely bothers him quite a bit," Barnes said.

KING STILL ON HOLD: For the second straight day Shaun King did not practice and said he will be day-by-day.

After learning Monday the MRI exam on his right shoulder showed no damage, King was planning to resume practice Tuesday. But after a few throws, he determined he needed more rest.

"Every morning I'm going to come out and try to throw and if it feels right, I'll continue," King said. "I tried to this morning, but it was just uncomfortable. Not so much that it's overly painful, but it is uncomfortable."

King got hurt after banging into defensive end Marcus Jones Saturday. With Brad Johnson returning after missing the first week of practice and needing extra reps, King said there's no need for him to be hasty.

"I'm not going to rush it back and risk having something happen before or during the season," King said. "I want to play. I don't have a history of missing time, it's not something I do. But also, I have to be smart. It would be a different thing if it was my left shoulder."

HERE'S THE PROOF: He has preached the importance of stopping the run since arriving and he has convincing proof. Coach Tony Dungy asked the communications staff to provide the coaching staff with the run defense stats for the past six Super Bowl teams. And then he shared them with the defense.

"We talked a little bit about that with the defense last night,' Dungy said. "The last three Super Bowls, with the six teams in it, Tennessee was 10th against the run, but everybody else was in the top three.

"So, it doesn't take a real insightful person to figure out run defense is important to get into the Super Bowl."

BUCS BITS: The team hosted its annual family day at training camp, closing practice to the public. Resuming today, practices again are open to the public and free. ... Tonight the Bucs will hold their final night practice of camp, scheduled to start at 7:30. ... Right guard Randall McDaniel and center Jeff Christy were not at practice Tuesday morning, having not returned in time from attending Korey Stringer's funeral in Warren, Ohio on Monday. ... Because of an afternoon thunderstorm, practice was called off about 20 minutes early.

INJURY REPORT: Rookie tight end Dauntae' Finger was on the sideline after spending Monday night in St. Joseph's Hospital. Finger experienced an irregular heartbeat and shortness of breath after Monday's practice.

"Dauntae' is actually fine,' Dungy said. "All the tests came back negative and he should return to practice (today)."

Rookie safety John Howell sprained his left hamstring in the morning session and did not participate in the afternoon.

Receiver Jacquez Green (right hamstring strain), safety Dexter Jackson (left hamstring strain), cornerback Anthony Midget (left hamstring strain), running back Jamie Wilson (left hamstring strain), linebacker Jamie Duncan (right hamstring strain), cornerback Terrance Parrish (right Achilles' strain) sat out.

Punter Mark Royals (right knee sprain) and fullback Mike Alstott (left hamstring strain) remain sidelined. Fullback Charles Kirby (left Achilles' tendon rupture) is scheduled for surgery today.

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