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Bucs release Simeon Rice. Adams reports to training camp; Plummer not joining him

CELEBRATION, Fla. (AP) -Simeon Rice's run with Tampa Bay as one of the NFL's most prolific pass rushers is over.

The Buccaneers released the 12th-year pro, whose 121 career sacks rank second among active players behind Michael Strahan, on Thursday night, only hours after signing his replacement - first-round draft pick Gaines Adams - to a six-year, $46 million contract.

General manager Bruce Allen said Rice, who missed much of last season with a shoulder injury, failed a physical when he reported to camp earlier in the day.

"He needs more time to recover" Allen said of Rice, who was scheduled to earn $7.25 million in the final season of a five-year, $41 million contract extension he signed after helping the Bucs win the Super Bowl in 2002.

"We felt now was the time to make the move," said Allen, who insisted it had nothing to do with Rice's salary or the fact that Adams was drafted fourth overall with an eye on eventually replacing the 33-year-old Rice. "You let it drag on for weeks, it might not be fair to him."

Rice started the first eight games of 2006, then spent most of the second half of the season on injured reserve. He finished with a career-low two sacks, ending a streak of five consecutive seasons with at least 11.

His 56.5 sacks from 2002-05 were the most in the NFL during that stretch.

Allen said Rice is confident the injury will heal and he will be able to play for another team this season.

"I don't think there's any doubt he'll get better in time," Allen said. "I don't think the last chapter of Simeon Rice's NFL career has been written."

Adams became the highest pick in this year's draft to sign a contract. The 6-foot-5, 258-pound defensive end was the fourth selection behind Oakland's JaMarcus Russell, Detroit's Calvin Johnson and Cleveland's Joe Thomas. The Bucs are counting on him to help revitalize their pass rush.

One guy the team isn't relying on right now is Jake Plummer, acquired from Denver in an offseason trade even though the quarterback has said he's retired. Coach Jon Gruden met with him in Idaho this summer but was not able to persuade Plummer to change his mind and report to camp.

"It was a 'get to know each other' meeting ... a meeting where we took a particular interest in Jake Plummer, his future and what lies ahead down the road," Gruden said.

"We wanted him to know what our feelings were. We wanted to see what his feeling were. Obviously, you see where he's pointed at this time, although men have changed their minds in the past."

Allen said Plummer would be placed on the reserve, did not report list.

Adams arrived at the team hotel near Walt Disney World about three hours before the deadline for players to report. By dinner, the Bucs also had agreements with their other unsigned rookies, both second-round picks - guard Arron Sears and safety Sabby Piscitelli.

Adams, the Atlantic Coast Conference's defensive player of the year with 12 1/2 sacks last season, said it was important to get into camp on time to earn the respect of coaches and teammates.

"I wanted to come in on the first day, get acclimated and let them know I'm here with them," Adams said.

Gruden likes the rookie's attitude.

"He's a guy who told us at the very beginning he wants to play," the coach said. "For him to be at his best, he has to be here."

Agent Fletcher Smith said Adams had no qualms about negotiating a deal before the draft's first three picks.

"Sometimes waiting can hurt you," Smith said, adding he's comfortable the contract will not be surpassed by anyone selected behind Adams. "You have an idea of where you want to be. If you can't get there, then you wait."

Meanwhile, Gruden said there was nothing new to report on Tampa Bay's interest in free agent Daunte Culpepper.

The Miami Dolphins released the former Pro Bowl quarterback last week. Two days later, Culpepper was in Tampa with the Bucs, whose roster lists five quarterbacks who have started games in the NFL - Jeff Garcia, Chris Simms, Bruce Gradkowski, Luke McCown and Plummer.

"He's a heck of a quarterback. He's thrown a lot of touchdown passes," Gruden said of Culpepper. "I just met him and looked into his situation, as many teams in this league are. Nothing is imminent, nothing is concrete in terms of what he's looking for right now or where he's going to end up."

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