[Bucs] Walker May Unseat Steussie At Tackle
From The Tampa Tribune
Published: Oct 12, 2004
TAMPA - The switch to Brian Griese at quarterback may not be the only change the Bucs make to their starting lineup for Monday night's game.
The Bucs also may name a new starter at right tackle, where incumbent Todd Steussie and Kenyatta Walker seem to be headed in opposite directions.
Steussie, an 11-year veteran who received a $4 million free- agent signing bonus, has started every game but struggled in his transition to the right side. Sunday, he was beaten for the first-quarter sack that injured starting QB Chris Simms.
Walker's reps have increased steadily the past two weeks, and he played every offensive snap in Steussie's place after the sack that knocked out Simms.
On Monday, Coach Jon Gruden refused to name a starter, saying he will let the players' practice performances decide their fate. He added that the competition has been especially good for Walker.
``I think Todd Steussie has brought out the best in Kenyatta Walker,'' Gruden said. ``And that was our intent all along - to let the best man play.''
BRAD STAYING PUT: Though he wouldn't go as far as to name Brad Johnson the No. 2 quarterback this week, Gruden stressed the former starter is a ``big part of this team, and he's going to continue to be that.''
Johnson has declined to comment to the local media since his benching, but he said in an interview with SI.com that he would be open to a trade if it was the ``right situation'' and ``the sooner, the better.''
``We are not going to trade Brad Johnson,'' Gruden said, addressing rumors that have been circulating since Johnson was demoted last week for Simms. ``I am not going to answer all of the rumor mill.''
Griese, this week's starter, has been in a similar situation as Johnson. His first year as a starter in Denver, the Broncos began the season 0-4 and he was benched. Griese also dealt with a shoulder injury and can empathize with Simms.
``I know exactly where Brad is right now and how he feels,'' Griese said. ``I know exactly where Chris is and what he feels. I've been in that situation as well.
``Right now it's a situation where we need to go out and win some games so whatever the quarterback position, the three of us need to go out and do it and we'll all be cool for each other.''
THE SOUND OF SILENCE: Gruden won't be listed on the injury report this week, but he could be. He's suffering from a case of laryngitis so bad that the Bucs considered bringing in a backup play caller during Sunday's game.
``We brought [quarterbacks coach] John Shoop out of the press box just in case he had to call the plays,'' Gruden said in a voice even more raspy than usual Monday.
``Maybe we should have brought him out and let him call the plays. It's so loud and when you are screaming and the quarterback can't hear it's irritating. It's rough. But we made it through it.''
Gruden, who cut short his postgame news conference after just a few minutes Sunday, made it through his Monday media address without any problems. He did, however, skip his weekly radio show.
BUCS BITS: The agent for free agent TE Byron Chamberlain confirmed Chamberlain will be in Tampa today for a tryout. Chamberlain is a former Pro Bowler (2002) who was in camp with the Denver Broncos this summer. The Bucs are also expected to look at TE O.J. Santiago, who was also with Denver during training camp. ... The Bucs, who will face the Rams for the fourth time in a Monday night matchup, are 9-6 on ``Monday Night Football.'' They have won six of their past eight MNF encounters and are 3-0 vs. the Rams. ... WR Michael Clayton ranks first among NFL rookie receivers in receptions (23) and receiving yards (301). ... P Josh Bidwell ranks fifth in the NFC in gross punting average with a 43.7 mark and third in net punting average with a 39.2 mark. ... WR Joey Galloway is expected to start running pass routes in practice this week, Gruden said. It's unlikely that Galloway will return to the lineup until after the Oct. 31 bye week.
Roy Cummings, Katherine Smith