T Chris Colmer will miss the 2006 season due to a reoccurrence of Parsonage-Turner Syndrome
Jay Fiedler should be back soon. Luke McCown could be back later. And Chris Colmer will not be back this season.
That's the essential fallout from the acronym-heavy series of roster moves the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made on Friday morning, shortly before conducting their first practice of training camp. Fiedler and McCown have been placed on the PUP (physically unable to perform list) while Colmer has been classified as reserve/NFI (non-football illness).
All three players will miss some chunk of time due to various ailments, but Colmer's is obviously the most serious. For the second time in the last four years, the young offensive tackle is suffering from Parsonage-Turner Syndrome, a nerve condition that previously caused him to miss the entire 2003 season at North Carolina State. Colmer returned from that lost season to start every game in 2004 and earn All-ACC honors, prompting the Bucs to draft him with the 91st pick overall in the spring of 2005.
Colmer was on the Bucs' active roster for all of 2005 but did not see action in a regular season game.
"This is an illness that he had early in his career at North Carolina State and it's reoccurred," said Head Coach Jon Gruden after Friday's morning practice. "It's unfortunate but he will not play for the Bucs this year. We just hope he can make a speedy recovery."
Those three moves were accompanied by two additions and four cuts from the roster, which allowed the Bucs to start practice Friday at the 89-man limit.
Cornerback Dwight Ellick and defensive tackle Lynn McGruder were waived, making room on the roster for rookies Davin Joseph and Maurice Stovall, who agreed to contract terms early Thursday evening.
The Bucs added two men who recently played in the NFL Europe spring season, defensive tackle Kevin Lewis and center Daniel Martz. They take the roster spots and NFLEL exemption slots vacated by guard Phil Bogle and center Jason Nerys, who were released on Friday.
The 6-1, 288-pound Lewis, who played with the Hamburg Sea Devils in the spring, started his last two seasons at Virginia Tech and had 43 tackles and four sacks as a junior. He contributed 24 tackles and three passes defensed for the Sea Devils. Lewis, who will wear number 71, hails from Richmond, Virginia.
Martz (6-3, 287) started at left guard for the Cologne Centurions this spring. In late May, following his stint in the NFLEL, he signed with the Washington Redskins, though he was later released. Martz played his college ball at Alabama and will wear number 60 in Bucs camp.
Both Bogle and Nerys played in the NFLEL spring season as Buccaneer allocates after being signed in January. Ellick and McGruder were also added to the roster in a flurry of reserve/future signings made shortly after the 2005 season.
The Bucs' two injured passers are on the same list but under very different circumstances. Fiedler first injured his shoulder last October and is thus near the end of his rehabilitation period. The active/PUP list allows the team to put him back on the practice field as soon as he is cleared to play. McCown, on the other hand, suffered his knee injury in June and thus needs more time to recover. Fiedler, in fact, was signed by the Buccaneers as a response to McCown's mishap.
"Fiedler's close; we'll monitor him day-to-day-to-day and as soon as he's ready to go we'll activate him off of that," said Gruden. "McCown obviously will be a little bit longer than that, being that he's got a little bit more of an injury to overcome."
Fiedler and McCown were the only players who are on site but not cleared to play when the Bucs began practicing on Friday morning. Second-year running back Cadillac Williams missed the second half of the opening workout after incurring back spasms, but the injury is not considered significant.
"He's alright," said Gruden of the irreplaceable back. "He was a little excited. He has a little back spasm. We expect him probably to be back out here in the morning [on Saturday]."
Other than any tense moments that might have been occasioned by Williams grabbing his back, there wasn't much to dislike about Friday morning's practice. Gruden was quite pleased with the crispness with which his team kicked off camp.
"Our players came back with very good retention," he said. "We didn't have a lot of turnovers or fumbled exchanges or wasted plays. We handled the blitz period pretty good on both sides of the ball. I was pleased with the assignments. We'll take a good look at the tape. There's plenty to clean up in terms of our technique and our fundamentals, but we're off to a good start."
The Bucs came out in shorts and without pads for the start of camp, following the same pattern the team has used since Gruden's arrival in 2002. The heavy hitting won't begin for two more days, but the Bucs did plenty of sweating on another sweltering day in Central Florida.
"We got a lot of work done today in two hours and 10 minutes," said Gruden. "The first two days we practice in shorts. We like the shape the football team is in. We want to get them in a rhythm in terms of our tempo and just get them re-acclimated to practice. On Sunday morning we'll put the pads on and we'll see exactly where we are then."
The Bucs open camp with 21 of last year's 22 starters still on the roster, which means a good percentage of the roster knows what to expect from each day of camp and each segment of practice. Gruden demands an up-tempo pace and an adherence to a certain "practice etiquette," and the team's returning core has both down to a science. Still, there are several dozen rookies and a handful of newcomers who are still feeling their way.
That's a fact of life in the NFL and in training camp. Change on the roster is unavoidable from year to year, and the Bucs also have several new coaches in the mix. Beneath that changing surface, however, is a foundation that Gruden, his staff and the team's veterans work hard to keep in place.
"There are some things that we do take pride in around here that won't change, and that's the way we practice, that's the expectations that we have," said Gruden. "By God, we're going to play with tremendous effort and we're going to play as hard as we can for 60 minutes."