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Gardener drops gauntlet before Bucs D

By GREG AUMAN, SHARON GINN and RICK STROUD

© St. Petersburg Times,
published August 11, 2001


TAMPA -- The Bucs and Dolphins renewed their rivalry on the field in joint workouts at Pepin/Rood Stadium on Friday.

The war of words over who has the best defense was revisited as well.

photo
[Times photo: Toni L. Sandys]
Quarterback Shaun King, who has been nursing an injured shoulder, scrambles out of the pocket during practice with the Dolphins.
A year ago, it was Dolphins offensive tackle Todd Wade disrespecting Bucs All-Pro defensive tackle Warren Sapp. On Friday, it was Dolphins defensive tackle Daryl Gardener taking on the Bucs defense.

Gardener was asked if the Dolphins felt forgotten with all the publicity given to Tampa Bay's defense.

"They forget us? No, people don't forget us," Gardener said. "They know who the dominating defense out there is. Sapp and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- yeah, they've got a nice little defense. We ain't no slouches.

"If I'm not mistaken, I do believe the last four years we've been in the top 10. They're just starting to get in the top 10. I guess it feels good to them. How many years have they been in the top 10? Three? Two? How many years? I think it's two. So if you want to put the stats on the board, we have it."

The Bucs defense has ranked in the NFL top 10 the past four seasons. Miami's has ranked in the top 10 the past three.

SCRIMMAGE REPORT: The Bucs opened three days of combined drills with the Dolphins, scrimmaging for about 90 minutes before a large turnout.

"I thought this would be good -- Miami is a great team to work against," coach Tony Dungy said. "Miami has the same philosophy we do -- they practice hard and play hard, so we knew it would be a good workout."

Some of the most physical matchups were Miami's defensive backs employing a bump-and-run against the Bucs receivers.

"It was something different, a little change of pace," receiver Keyshawn Johnson said. "It seemed like they were going a little faster than regular practice. You expect on Monday night, things will be even faster."

CURRYING FAVOR: With tackle George Hegamin excused from camp and apparently pondering retirement, the top backup to Jerry Wunsch suddenly is untested third-year pro DeMarcus Curry, who has dressed for three games in two years and never taken the field.

"There's a time for everybody," Curry said. "Sometimes you have to wait your turn, sometimes you have to step and show people what you can do. I want to be reliable and show the team I'm ready to go if they need me."

Curry spent most of his rookie season on the practice squad and was inactive for all but one game last season. Now he's lining up with the second-string line, an opportunity he said he doesn't want to waste.

"I feel like they're depending on me now and I need to show up," the 332-pound tackle said. "I'm in much better shape than I was last year, and the extra reps let me know they need me. I cannot be the weakest link."

INJURIES: Lineman Todd Washington dislocated a finger and is listed as questionable for Monday's game, as is receiver Frank Rice, who sprained his right knee, which Dungy said "looked like it was going to be serious."

Fullback Mike Alstott (hamstring), punter Mark Royals (knee) and defensive end John McLaughlin (hip) are out for Monday, and fullback Rabih Abdullah (hamstring), linebacker Jamie Duncan (hamstring), safety John Howell (hamstring) and cornerback Terrance Parrish (Achilles') are questionable. Players listed as probable: receivers Reidel Anthony (ankle) and Jacquez Green (hamstring), guard Russ Hochstein (hand), safety Dexter Jackson (hamstring), quarterback Shaun King (shoulder) and cornerback Anthony Midget (hamstring).

NEW KID ON THE BLOCKS: With Alstott and Abdullah injured and Charles Kirby out for the season, the Bucs signed free agent Leroy McFadden, who played at Michigan State. The team did not want rookie Jameel Cook to be the only fullback on roster.

"He's a tough guy, a hard-nosed guy," Dungy said of McFadden. "Hopefully, we can catch him up to what we're doing."'

McFadden last played with arenafootball2's Charleston Swamp Foxes and one of his teammates was current Bucs receiver Mike Chandler.

"You can't beat this with a stick," McFadden said of his first NFL camp since the Minnesota Vikings in 1999. "It was good to get in right away. I didn't even think about it."

McFadden had heavy reading planned for Friday night. He left dinner with his new playbook under his arm, having learned a dozen plays during his first practice.

The Bucs put Kirby on injured reserve and released tailback Jamie Wilson, an undrafted rookie from East Carolina.

THANKS, WARREN: Dungy said he heard Sapp's comments Thursday night on ESPN that included a statement that if the Bucs don't win a championship "they're going to dismantle this team."

"You have a collection of nine, 10 Pro Bowlers a year and you don't win a championship? C'mon. Something's wrong," Sapp said.

Dungy agreed with Sapp about a sense of urgency, but said he feels that way going into every season.

NEW YEAR, NEW RULES: Veteran referee Bob McElwee, an NFL official for 26 seasons, led a league-mandated discussion with Bucs players Thursday night that included instructional videos on sportsmanship and changes to league rules.

Two Bucs were featured in the highlights: Jackson was an example of healthy celebration and King illegal taunting, tossing a football at a Vikings defender.

"The players themselves have been concerned about the trash, concerned about what the kids are seeing around the country and how that projects the image of the NFL," McElwee said. "We don't want to take the fun out of the game. All the enthusiasm is great. It's the in-your-face stuff that they want to stop."

Dungy said he thought the videos would help limit unnecessary penalties by showing players specific examples of what they can and cannot do.

BUCS ON TV: Channel 28's half-hour Bucs postgame show, SportsRap, has a new name, a new co-host and a new look.

WFTS-TV debuts BucsZone at 11:30 Sunday night with a training camp edition, then follows Monday with an hourlong pregame show beginning at 7 p.m. Channel 28 then will simulcast ESPN's broadcast of the Bucs-Miami game from Raymond James Stadium.

BucsZone will air every Sunday night during the season after the 11 o'clock news. Sports director Jay Crawford, who will travel with the team, will co-host with new weekend anchor Al Keck, who will be in the studio. Bucs Warrick Dunn and John Lynch have committed to exclusive interviews with the show each week.

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