Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie LB Mason Foster was not promised a starting position by management, but is ready to step in if called upon.
Remarks earlier in the week by general manager Mark Dominik cast doubt on whether free agent LB Barrett Ruud is part of the team's future. Foster and LB Tyrone McKenzie are possible replacements at middle linebacker.
Foster, the team's third-round draft pick out of Washington, said he was ready for the challenge.
"If he's here, or he's not here, he's a great player," Foster said of Ruud, the team's leading tackler the past four seasons.
"If I have the chance to learn from him, great. But I'm here to play and I want to learn from everybody that's here, just come in and try to take advantage of my opportunity and do everything I can."
LS Andrew Economos walked without a limp Thursday when he reported for training camp.
Economos ruptured his Achilles tendon while working out this offseason and had surgery in April. He returned to One Buc Place as soon as the lockout ended.
"There is no real concrete time of when I'm supposed to be back, but I'm pretty close," Economos said. "I've been coming along. I'm ahead of the curve, for sure. My trainers have worked with me for 3-1/2 months, but I still have a little ways to go. The last two days, I've been in there working hard."
As a precaution, Tampa Bay signed undrafted long snappers Aaron Feld (Mississippi State) and Christian Yount (UCLA). Since Economos' injury occurred during the lockout, it is unclear if Tampa Bay has any financial obligation to him if he cannot play this season.
McCoy ready to dance
DT Gerald McCoy has been tutored by former Bucs DT Warren Sapp, but believes he is better than his mentor in one category.
McCoy posed as a reporter Thursday, interrupting Freeman's media interview to ask his own questions.
"Mr. Freeman, do you think it would be a good idea to tell the offensive coordinator to get Gerald in on goal line so he can go out for a pass?" McCoy said. "I think I have a better touchdown dance than Sapp. What do you think about that?"
"I probably put you in the top-five hands on the team, easily," Freeman said. "Sure, we got to get Gerald some action."
Bowers sporting in Stylez
Normally, rookies who want the jersey number of a veteran have to open up their checkbooks and pay for it. Bucs rookie DE Da'Quan Bowers was able to avoid that dilemma.
Bowers was given jersey No. 91, which last season belonged last season to DE Stylez G. White, an unrestricted free agent who has not received an offer from any team according to his agent, Jack Bechta.
While at Clemson, Bowers wore No. 93 in honor of his mentor, former Bucs first-round pick Gaines Adams, who wore the same number for the Tigers.
Top young team
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are ranked as the NFL's top organization by Football Outsiders for their ability to assemble talent age 25 and younger.
Football Outsiders, a football think tank, believes Tampa Bay has the NFL's best group of talented young players at offensive skill positions. The website said Josh Freeman was one the NFL's 10 most efficient quarterbacks, and credited WR Mike Williams and RB LeGarrette Blount for Tampa Bay's finishing ninth in offensive efficiency.
Football Outsiders used the following criteria to determine its ranking:
While Tampa Bay finished last in run defense and 31st in pass rush last season, Football Outsiders believes rookie ends Adrian Clayborn and Da'Quan Bowers, plus DT Gerald McCoy, will help the Bucs improve.