Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs Wrap Up First Mini-Camp

Players Get Some Time Off After 3-Day Session


Perennial Pro Bowl G Randall McDaniel was just one of several newcomers at One Buc Place this week.

There's a new offensive coordinator in town, the quarterback has become something of a local folk hero and the star wide receiver is on the cover of a national magazine this week.

So, as the Buccaneers wrapped up their first mini-camp under another avalanche of cameras, this question beckons: Does anybody remember the defense?

You know, the defense that ranked first in the NFC last season, boasted three first-team All-Pro selections and made the high-powered Redskins and Rams look downright mortal in the playoffs? Bucs head coach Tony Dungy hasn't forgotten about them. And he doesn't mind the spotlight switching to the other side of the ball.

"Our defense had a great season," Dungy said after Saturday's practice. "But we hope our guys understand that you have to do it every year. Last year doesn't count, whether you won the Super Bowl or finished in last place. I think our group understands that."

The only change on defense comes in the middle, where third-year pro Jamie Duncan replaces veteran Hardy Nickerson at MLB. Duncan played primarily on special teams last season, but replaced Nickerson in the starting lineup for the last six games of the 1998 season. He collected 46 tackles as the Bucs ended the season on a 4-2 run.

"We like Jamie an awful lot," Dungy said. "He played in a similar system (at Vanderbilt) and got pressed into duty at the end of 1998 and was productive. I don't feel like we're going into this with a young, untested player, but with a third-year guy that we feel will do real well."

Tampa Bay didn't have any injuries during the three-day session, which primarily served as a way to refresh the veterans and acclimate the rookies to the Buccaneers' system.

"The most important thing for the rookies is to go back and finish up school," Dungy said. "They've got some information to take home and they'll have plenty of time to learn it. And we hope they will keep their conditioning going."

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