Buccaneers RFA OLT Donald Penn has yet to sign his $3.168 million tender and, after staying away from minicamp and OTAs, he hasn't said whether he'll show up on time for training camp July 30, leaving the Bucs with a question mark at a key position.
After starting 44 consecutive games, Penn received the highest tender possible, but he wants a long-term deal from the Bucs. GM Mark Dominik isn't interested in offering him with one and was critical of Penn for gaining weight during the 2009 season in a discussion with a group of season-ticket holders. The Bucs said the remarks were meant to be off the record after they had been published and Dominik, who also threatened to fine Penn for not attending minicamp, even though he can't fine a player who is not under contract, apologized to Penn.
Head coach Raheem Morris said he is anticipating that Penn will report to camp on time when asked about the disgruntled player at the conclusion of minicamp. Second-year veteran Demar Dotson, who has never started an NFL game, has been taking snaps with the first-team offense in Penn's absence, but recently admitted that he's not ready to become a starter.
In an interview with PFW, QB Josh Freeman was asked if the team needed Penn.
"I think need is a very risqué word," Freeman said. "If someone gets injured and you need somebody, then your season is kind of down the drain. I think Donald Penn means an awful lot to this team and I think he knows that. At the same time, he has to take care of his business. Sure, I want Donald. I want him to come back, but I know Donald is a professional. He's going to take care of his business off the field."
Penn reportedly has been working out on his own and has dropped 35 pounds. He has kept in touch with teammates and attended the Bucs' FanFest on June 19, which some took as a signal that he and the team were beginning to make amends.
"When it comes time for (Penn) to get his stuff taken care of and come back, I know he's going to be ready to play," Freeman said. "I'm not worried at all about Donald. I know he's going to do what's right for him and right for the team."
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