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Signings Start with Bryant

Facing their largest draft class in 13 years, the Bucs got the contract work started on Wednesday with the pre-camp signing of sixth-round DT Anthony Bryant


At 337 pounds, DT Anthony Bryant is the heaviest of the Bucs' defensive line candidates

One down, 11 to go.

On Wednesday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced the signing of defensive tackle Anthony Bryant, one of a dozen players the team selected in this year's draft. As is team policy, the details of the contract were not disclosed.

Bryant's deal represents the beginning of a big job: Getting the team's largest draft class in 13 years into training camp on time. History suggests the Bucs will succeed in that task, as they have not had a rookie holdout of any significance since 1994, when it took some time to get quarterback Trent Dilfer into camp.

Bryant was Tampa Bay's sixth-round pick in April's draft. Still to be signed are first-round running back Carnell Williams; second-round linebacker Barrett Ruud; third-round tight end Alex Smith, third-round tackle Chris Colmer; fourth-round guard Dan Buenning; fifth-round safety Donte Nicholson, fifth-round wide receiver Larry Brackins; and a quartet of seventh-rounders, fullback Rick Razzano, wide receiver Paris Warren, safety Hamza Abdullah and wide receiver J.R. Russell.

That represents the Bucs' largest draft class since 1992, when the team added 13 players over the course of 12 rounds. The draft was shortened to eight rounds in 1993 and then to seven in 1994. The team's first-round pick in 1997, running back Warrick Dunn, reported late during the first day of camp, while defensive tackle Anthony McFarland, the first-rounder in 1999, signed a few days into camp. Last year, first-round pick Michael Clayton was in the fold a full week before training camp opened.

Rookie draft picks may participate in offseason mini-camps and organized workouts after signing injury waivers, but no player may report to an NFL training camp without an existing contract. The Buccaneers report to camp next Thursday, on the afternoon of July 28.

Bryant, a massive (6-3, 337) run-stuffer from Alabama could find himself in an important competition during camp, as the Bucs will be looking to replace the departed Chartric Darby at nose tackle. Even if the rookie isn't chosen for the starting lineup, he will attempt to find a spot in the defensive line rotation.

The 178th pick in the draft, Bryant played in 48 games for the Tide, making 15 starts. He is one of the strongest players ever to go through the Alabama program, setting school records in the bench press (505 pounds) and squat (775 pounds). Bryant played in 11 games with one start last year, contributing 19 tackles and 1.5 sacks. As a junior, he started all 13 games and registered a career-high 44 tackles.

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