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Thursday, May 21, 2009
Bucs run anger out of their system

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

TAMPA, Fla. -- Raheem Morris just put a very positive spin on a negative incident.

Maybe the coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is right when he says his team grew as it went through a "special teams practice.'' I've been around the block a bit and it looked to me like Morris was running his team more than my freshman basketball coach made us run after he discovered we'd been stealing Cokes out of the faculty lounge before practice. That running session lasted over an hour and so did this one.

It looked like pure punishment. Not just for the guys who prompted it Wednesday, but every player who was at Thursday's voluntary workout. The Bucs ran and ran and ran and, then, went and lifted some weights.

It all came after cornerback Aqib Talib swung his helmet at tackle Donald Penn and wound up hitting cornerback Torrie Cox in the face during Wednesday's session. Cox wound up with stitches in his face, Talib, undoubtedly got a stern talk and everyone else got to help pay the price.

"Nothing brings you together like Wefense,'' coach Raheem Morris said. "A special teams practice. That's what our practice was today. A special teams practice. Tempers boil over. Actions happen. You handle it in-house. It's a family affair and you come out today and try to figure out how to change it. Nothing brings you together like Wefense, a special teams practice.''

Maybe there was some bonding as the Bucs were running, but you can't just write this one off as boys being boys on a football field. Sure, it's a physical game and tempers run hot. But this incident crossed some lines.

First, it was during a May workout. Second, Talib took off his helmet. Third, he swung it at a teammate. There's also history here. Talib also had an altercation with a teammate at last year's rookie symposium.

That's a pattern and it kind of reminds me of Carolina's Steve Smith, who has had three altercations with teammates during his career and has been suspended for three games.

There's no indication Talib will be suspended, but I wouldn't be surprised if the Bucs quietly have fined him or thought up some other form of punishment -- in addition to the running.

Talib has to learn to keep his emotions under control.

"I'm glad I got this out of the way when I was 23,'' Talib said. "I'll never do that again.''

The words sound proper. But the real test will come down the road. You can earn some extra sprints for your teammates in May. But you can cost them all a game if you do something like that during the regular season.

Talib said all the right things Thursday, but he'll have to do all the right things going forward.