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Saturday Afternoon Buccaneer Linkage: Morris Speaks on Derrick Ward; Barrett Ruud Praises His New Linemen

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We are in officially in the dead period for the NFL, with teams wrapping up their camps/OTAs and taking some time off before mandatory minicamps kick into gear.  Blech.

Following the completion of last week's OTAs the Buccaneer players and staff will get a little R&R before a more intense June kicks into gear.  The coaching staff is reportedly getting away to Palm Beach for a retreat before getting back into the full swing of things in June.

Speaking of the coaching staff, Raheem Morris recognizes the need to get Derrick Ward involved in the offense more next season:

"Derrick’s a team guy, but you want to run the ball more – period," Morris said this week. "You always want to establish the run, and toward the end of the year we were able to do that a little bit more.

"When we started to win games, he did get the ball more. Of course, you feel like you should give it to him even more. If I can get him the ball more this season, that’s usually going to result in more wins and more happy faces around here."

 Barrett Ruud proclaimed some praise for the new DTs lining up in front of him:

"Gerald looks really good,'' Ruud said Wednesday at the conclusion of the club's first set of voluntary offseason practices. "He's got great technique, he's explosive and I think he's going to be really good this year.

"Those guys (McCoy, Price) make you able to do a lot more things on defense. You don't have to blitz all the time and you can play a lot more coverages if your front four is getting a lot of pressure, especially from the interior. For a middle linebacker like me, it should mean lots of smiles and hopefully, lots of tackles.''

Certainly there's been a lot of talk about Ruud recently, both optimism of his anticipated improved play in the Tampa 2 and criticism of his inability to make a tackles close to the line last season.  Looks like he's banking on a return to his 2007 form with improved play up front.  Of course, that's assuming Price and McCoy make the impact they're being counted upon to make.

Roy Cummings has a nice piece on the strides Demar Dotson has made with the Buccaneers.  Dotson replaced the absent Donald Penn at the starting LT position at OTAs and earned some kind words from Raheem Morris.

Gary Shelton has a live chat up on all things Buccaneer/Rays/Lightning related.  He projects Mike Williams to emerge as the team's rookie of the year over Gerald McCoy, mainly because "how often do you watch the defensive tackles?".  This was in response to a reader's question as to which rookie will have the biggest impact.  Hah?  I don't think how often you watch a position has any bearing on whether a player has an impact.

Discuss.