The Bucs started their first voluntary conditioning camp this week, here’s a couple notable quotes from the complex, as well as one wacky trade scenario…
"I love being here and I'm glad to be here and I want the Bucs to succeed. Mark wants to be the best GM he can be. Raheem wants to be the best head coach he can be. They have to do their jobs, and their jobs are to put together the best team they can put together. If they feel like that's another option, I can't blame them for that. I wouldn't agree with it. I have an opportunity to prove that I'm the franchise guy that they're looking for. I want to be the quarterback here for the next seven, eight, nine years. I'm going to do my very best to prove that. It's not personal. It's a business and you have to understand that." - Bucs QB Luke McCown in response to all of the
bogusJay Cutler rumors via the St. Pete Times
At least McCown has maturity going for him. He could be putting holes in walls at home over the Bucs infatuation with QB’s not currently on their roster, but to the media and the world he shows a calm, cool, level headed, mature athlete. That translates to the field as well. I’m looking forward to this Quarterback competition more than anything this off-season. I truly believe each guy will get a fair shake. May the best man win….
"Oh man, it crossed my mind [replacing a legend]. When they asked me, I was like first Lynch, now Brooks. Who's going to be next? But I look at it like this: nobody can ever replace a John Lynch, nobody can ever replace a Derrick Brooks. What they've done for the game of football is unmatched. All I can do is go out there and play the linebacker position the best way I can. Hopefully, everybody will learn to love me the way they loved them." – Flip aka Jermaine Phillips on transitioning into the LB position per the St. Pete Times
Flip we all loved you as a Safety so I’m sure that love will carry over to your new position. I don’t think anyone questions whether Jermaine can make the transition. He’s already gained 10 pounds thus far, up to 230 pounds, and at 6’2 he’s plenty big enough to man the position. Couple that with his above average speed, good hands, and bone crunching abilities and he/we should be fine. The questions come via his replacement in Sabby Piscitelli. Is he ready to start? The other issue is injuries, Jermaine has struggled with them and he’s now moving to a more physical and demanding position. You also have to question the logic in cutting Derrick Brooks and Cato June just to move Flip out of his natural position and a position he’s excelled in. The addition of Angelo Crowell solidifies the position a bit, despite his injuries issues as he missed all of ’08 with a knee injury.
"I think letting Luke have a chance is a great decision. He probably should have been playing a long time ago. I think we’re moving in the right direction. I personally think with the exception of Michael Vick when he was (playing) and probably Vince Young, I don’t think there’s another athlete as good as Luke McCown at the quarterback position." – RB Earnest Graham on teammate QB Luke McCown as a potential starter for the Bucs per the St. Pete Times
Those are fairly lofty comparisons by Earnest, character notwithstanding. This is the toughest part about being a fan. We haven’t been at every practice to see or know how athletic a QB McCown really is. Jags said it perfectly earlier in the off-season when he said ‘McCown is a mystery to the fan base’ and he truly is. We keep hearing he is ready despite having four years to prove that with a revolving door at QB. The thing is, the team already attempted to acquire two QB’s this off-season in the Chiefs Matt Cassel and the Broncos Jay Cutler. Mark Dominik is on record saying he wants to bring in a fourth QB and they have been silent in the Free Agent market so if we’re going to add another guy it’s going to come via the draft. How many unknowns can you have at one critical position though? I guess I just don’t feel confident in McCown’s abilities, especially with the way management continues to seek out other QB’s…
"The Broncos supposedly had a trade offer on the table to the Patriots that would have sent their first round pick to New England for Matt Cassel. That trade was also contingent on the Broncos in turn trading Cutler to Tampa for a first and a third round pick. Ok so if I'm Rod Graves [Cards GM], I get the Broncos on the phone and offer up Matt Leinart for their second round pick (48th overall). They can work the same deal with Tampa and they essentially end up with Leinart as their starter, two first round and two third round picks. We'd end up in the market for a backup QB (Byron Leftwich anyone?), but we'd have two second round picks and would be able to fill the three big needs (RB, OLB and OL) in the first two rounds." – Bezekira from Revenge of the Birds
That’s a creative scenario for sure. I still think the Lions have the edge, but this would supply the Broncos a fairly serviceable Quarterback, which they are rumored to be seeking. I’m almost to the point where I’m sick of all the Cutler hoopla. Just trade the guy already. We know he’s not coming here, we’re not that lucky. Just get a deal over with already. Sadly I think this will drag out all the way to Draft Day in which I think a trade will never be consummated and Cutler will be disgruntled in Denver for the next two seasons.
Hat tip to BucFanLostinIowa for the Leinart trade scenario…
"I see a lot of similarities, but Luke is a way better athlete than Eli [Manning], hands down. It’s not all about athletic ability. It’s about your smarts. It’s if you can read different coverages, blitzes, and techniques that defensive linemen do. Luke is very attentive in meetings, we got on the field for a little bit and went over a couple of plays. He seems very sharp out there, and he is picking up the offense pretty fast. I have all the confidence in the world to run behind him, block for him, and do all the things that I need to do to make him more successful." – RB Derrick Ward on QB Luke McCown’s potential per the St. Pete Times
For all of this athleticism I remember McCown getting sacked a bit. It’s odd because the players around McCown are vouching for him, and the Bucs currently have a veteran on the roster in Brian Griese to bail out McCown should he fail, yet they are still looking to bring in another Quarterback. Gruden’s said time and time again it’s tough to get these guys the necessary reps in practice to truly grade the talent he has when there are so many bodies. We only have a 53 man roster with 10 spots already chalked up to the Tight Ends, Quarterbacks, and Kickers, should the Bucs bring in another signal caller. That doesn’t include the four running backs we have on the roster as well. I know, I know, it’s only March. I’m just sayin’…
"His spirits are fine. Cadillac's not a guy who gets too down on himself. He's around doing a lot of stuff right now, cutting and doing some things. It's not even near [as bad] as the other injury. It's a lot less severe. I definitely think he'll be fine", Graham said. "Cadillac is coming on strong, he looks really good", said McCown. – RB Earnest Graham and QB Luke McCown on Carnell Williams recovery from a torn patellar injury per the St. Pete Times
I’m praying the Bucs give Caddy one more shot at continuing his NFL career in a Bucs jersey. This is a contract year for the Auburn Tiger-Eagle so it’s either recover now or never as far as his career with the Bucs is concerned. I hope he can take part in Training Camp, he needs to test himself prior to seeing NFL game day action. I’m ready to shake those visions of him being tackled in that final game of the season against the Raiders. When he started to cut toward the sideline, I told Craig T in the Gameday Thread we had that day that I had a feeling he was going to go down awkward and he did. Keep working Caddy, the fan base is behind you!