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GumboBC 08-19-2004 10:51 AM

Bucs look to be back near the top
Bucs look to be back near the top

By Pat Kirwan Senior Analyst

(Aug. 19, 2004) -- Walk in to GM Bruce Allen's office in Tampa Bay and the screen saver on his computer says "The Future is now." It's an expression his father George Allen made famous, and Bruce has every intention of living up to the Allen family motto.

The franchise slipped last year after a Super Bowl victory the year before, and with the arrival of Allen to team up with his old coach from Oakland, Jon Gruden, they hit the road running this past offseason and the new enthusiasm at One Buc Place is evident. I spent two days with the team and the front-office people, and I watched the Buccaneers play the Bengals. I think I have a pretty good handle on the 2004 team.

There may be six new starters on offense, the special-teams unit had solid veteran players brought in during the offseason, the depth on the roster suggests they can withstand injuries, and their first-round draft pick, WR Michael Clayton, looks like an emerging star. The defense has the biggest challenge replacing Warren Sapp and John Lynch, and early indications tell that they are on schedule to do that.

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Don't know how much can be gained from watching the Bucs 1st preseason game, but Pat Kirwan likes what he sees.

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