Bucs looking for short-yardage boost

Updated: November 5, 2003, 8:17 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli and Chris Mortensen | ESPN.com

So, a "Jam" session in Tampa, perhaps? Could be.

But not yet.

Out of the league for two seasons, tailback Jamal Anderson huddled with Tampa Bay Buccaneers officials on Wednesday about possibly resuming a once-productive career that was curtailed by a pair of knee injuries, ESPN.com has learned.

Anderson, 31, worked out for Bucs coaches and personnel officials. But there was no immediate contract offer, although Anderson remains clearly on the team's radar screen, and could sign sometime in the next few weeks. Team officials felt the workout went well and will now deliberate over when, or whether, to sign the veteran running back.

"They like the fact he's a power runner and they love his receiving ability, too," Sims told ESPN.com. "Nothing has happened yet. But we'll see."

Tampa Bay has been troubled by short-yardage failures much of the year, especially after losing hard-running fullback Mike Alstott to a season-ending neck injury, and Anderson could address that problem area if he is healthy and in some semblance of football condition. The eight-year veteran, who played his entire career with the Falcons, has been working out regularly at an Atlanta facility and hinted to ESPN.com earlier this season that he still wanted to return to the field.

In fact, Anderson cited the Bucs as one team in which he was interested, and noted that he might have an opportunity to join Tampa Bay late in the season. The penchant of Bucs coach Jon Gruden for older, more experienced players has never been a secret. Tampa Bay is expected to bring back free agent tight end Rickey Dudley, for instance, for the second half of the campaign, and Gruden wouldn't mind adding further reinforcements.

With the Falcons, the powerful Anderson rushed for 5,336 yards and 34 touchdowns on 1,329 carries. He also had 156 receptions for 1,645 yards.

Anderson went over the 1,000-yard mark four times, including a career-best 1,846 yards in 1998, when he led the Falcons to a berth in Super Bowl XXXIII. But in '99, Anderson suffered the first of two catastrophic knee injuries, in just the second outing of the season, and missed the balance of the year.

He sustained another serious knee injury in 2001, after just three games, and the Falcons decided after that season to reconfigure their backfield. Atlanta signed tailback Warrick Dunn as an unrestricted free agent, then used its first-round choice on running back T.J. Duckett, and subsequently released Anderson, the third-leading rusher in club history.

Anderson came close to signing with the New England Patriots in the summer of 2002, but then backed away from the deal, feeling his knee was not yet fully rehabilitated.