For the first time since April 23, meaningful football are upon us at One Buccaneer Place. The players showed up today for the start of training camp, and already the day has brought us a nice little cache of noteworthy nuggets.....
-First, let's start with the actual appearance of players at camp, or lack thereof. All players reported for camp, except for Donald Penn and Gerald McCoy. Both players remain unsigned. They would techically become holdouts if they're not in camp tomorrow when the first practice starts. Can't say this is a surprise for either player, especially for McCoy. As everyone knows, rookie holdouts are fairly commonplace, but almost always get resolved before the bulk of preseason is over. However, agent Ben Dogra and Mark Dominik are negotiating the tems of a potential deal for McCoy, so hopefully something will get done soon...even though it probably won't get done until Suh and possibly Bradford ink the dotted line. As for the other holdout .......
-......John Romano has a terrific piece up examining Donald Penn's current situation and how a holdout would be bad for both sides, but much worse for Penn. He goes back in time and notes the Glazers' pattern of holding firm against holdouts and the adverse results for a couple of notable Buccaneers (see Errict Rhett and Keenan McCardell). My take is that, while I have no idea what will happen regarding a long-term deal with the Penn, he's not going to pass up $3.168 million and the Bucs likely aren't going to cut him or trade away his rights. Ultimately, when you take away all the posturing and lines in the sand, they both need each other- at least for 2010- and are going to have to live with each other for the next season if they can't get a deal done, so Penn might as well get paid doing it. Also, the more time he misses from the preseason and/or season (if it gets that far), the further behind he puts himself and the more difficult it will be to get in game shape....and working out individually is a far cry from getting live game action and enduring the physical grind of camp. I don't think he wants to put himself in such a tough position in an all-important contract year.
Per Jason La Canfora via Twitter shortly before 7 pm ET, Donald Penn has agreed to a long-term deal with the Buccaneers and is on his way to Tampa to sign. More details to come later, but this is great news.
-Fellow contract disputee Barrett Ruud voiced his support for Donald Penn and spoke about the mentality of a player going through contract disputes:
"Until you get a decent contract, you kind of think about that every year," he said. "I know for a lot of guys, they think about it from the time they're a rookie until they do sign a little more of a long-term deal. . . I think there's always a lot of pressure on yourself. This league is so competitive and there's usually not a lot of guaranteed money -- not like baseball or basketball where everything is guaranteed. I think you're always under a lot of pressure from everyone to play well."
-Aqib Talib showed up for camp saying all the right things. Regarding the change in the defense the last 6 weeks of the season, Talib offered the following insight:
"I think there were a lot better decisions,'' Talib said of the change from Bates to Morris. "A lot less man press on the line – not 40 snaps of man press on the line. These receivers nowadays, you can't really do that. You're asking for it, to lose one battle and get a touchdown called against you. I'd say a lot better decisions on defense … a lot better play-calling.''
I think Elbert Mack and the rest of the secondary would concur with that opinion.
-Stephen Holder tweeted that Derrick Ward rolled into camp in a Lamborghini Gallardo. Hope his game is just as powerful as stylish as his ride.
-Holder also tweeted that the Bucs will be in full pads tomorrow for the first day of practice. No nancies and punch-and-judy's. Time to get tough quickly and become that violent and physical team that was proclaimed one year ago.