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BillyCarpenter1 07-16-2003 12:58 PM

Wesley Walls to Bucs?

TAMPA - Coach Jon Gruden has never seen a roster he hasn't wanted to alter, and that includes the one the Bucs are supposed to open training camp with Saturday.
With their first workout three days away, Gruden said the Bucs are contemplating signing five-time Pro Bowl tight end Wesley Walls.

``We might do that,'' Gruden said of adding Walls, a free agent who worked out at One Buc Place last week. ``We're looking into his situation carefully. This is a guy who has caught a lot of passes.''

Walls has caught 430 passes during his 15 NFL seasons, 53 for touchdowns. The Bucs believe he could give them another weapon inside the red zone.

The Bucs' only concern is Walls' health. He is coming off a season in which a knee injury that required surgery limited him during the final three games. But his agent said Walls, 37, is fully recovered.

``He has passed the physical and he caught all the passes they threw to him down there,'' agent Jimmy Sexton said.

Walls is not the only player whose health is a concern. The Bucs also are worried about projected starting right guard Jason Whittle, who broke his right leg during the team's May minicamp.

The Bucs were hoping Whittle would be back at full strength by the start of camp, but Gruden said Whittle will be out until after the first exhibition game.

``He won't practice until after we get back from Tokyo,'' Gruden said in reference to the Aug. 2 game against the Jets.

Whittle's absence means that last year's starter, Cosey Coleman, will be atop the depth chart at right guard when camp opens and that rookie Sean Mahan likely will begin as the backup.

The Bucs are also unsure of quarterback Jim Miller's availability. Miller, expected to compete for the backup spot with Shaun King, is coming off rotator cuff and ankle surgery and is not 100 percent.

Bucs general manager Rich McKay said the team will decide Friday whether Miller is ready to compete.

Should they decide he's not, the Bucs say they likely will place Miller on one of two physically unable to perform lists.

One such list would prohibit the Bucs from activating Miller until after the sixth week of the season and would almost ensure that King opens as the backup to starter Brad Johnson.

In other news, the Bucs made a roster addition Tuesday, signing safety Greg Brown. He is a University of Texas product who spent part of the 2001 season on the Denver Broncos practice squad and the 2001 and 2002 NFL Europe season with the Rhein Fire.


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