Replacement Bucs were just doing it to get another chance They walked around the locker room with footballs and black pens, asking each other for autographs. They talked about keeping in touch. They scrunched together on a four-tier bleacher and smiled for a group portrait. It was obvious Monday that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' B Team players knew their days were numbered. But deep in each of their minds was the hope that they'd be one of the lucky few who would stay if teams expand from 45- to 49-man rosters, a union demand that management may agree to in order to settle the strike. ĺ…¸here's a very slim chance that any of us will make it, but it's something you can't help thinking about,`` said quarterback Mike Hold, who threw two touchdown passes in Sunday's 31-27 win over Detroit, including a 61-yarder to Eric Streater. ``If you didn't think you had a chance, you wouldn't be here.`` Coach Ray Perkins said that if the strike were to end today, he knows the 49 players he'd keep. ``It would be easy to choose the team,`` he said. ``We'd keep the best 49 guys. Of course, things could change in the next few days, but at this point I know who I'd want.`` He wouldn't even hint who those players are, but chances are, a few would be from the replacement team. ``I'm sure that I can contribute in the NFL, and I hope I'm one of the ones Coach Perkins is thinking about keeping,`` said safety Paul Tripoli, who had seven tackles, one assist, one pass defensed, two interceptions (one returned for a touchdown) and one fumble recovery against the Lions. ``When I was here in Bucs camp this summer, there were so many people that I didn't get a chance to show what I can do. I think these last two weeks I've shown that I can play in this league.`` Tripoli, who played for Perkins at Alabama two years ago, was cut by the Bucs Sept. 1. At the time, Perkins told him to get on with his life, but to stay in shape because the team may need him someday. Tripoli spent the next few weeks in Toronto, where he played two CFL games before being waived. He came back to Tampa, where his wife was managing a Limited women's clothing store and taking care of their baby. When Perkins called, Tripoli jumped at the chance. Ditto for linebacker Brian Gant, a rookie out of Illinois State who was also in the Bucs' camp this summer. ``I thought I better take this opportunity while it's here,`` he said. ``This is probably my last go-round in football. I've been playing so long. I think I'll sit back and be a regular person for a while. When I went back home after camp I was beginning to make that transition, just being a regular student. I'll have to go back and start all over again if this doesn't work out.`` Linebacker Sankar Montoute, a graduate of Saint Leo College and a former Tampa Bay Bandit, said he's taking things day by day. ``I'm not getting my hopes up,`` he said. ``I've got a deputy sheriff's job lined up here in Hillsborough County if things don't work out, so I'm not worried. I'm just here to try and catch someone's eye, whether it be the Bucs' or someone else. Even if it ends today, the experience was worth it. I had a great time. I'd do it again.`` Defensive back Marcus Quinn, who played little Sunday because of a stomach virus, hopes the strike drags on at least one more week. ``I have a lot riding on the San Diego game, so hell, yeah, I hope like hell we play this week just for the benefit of the doubt, for Marcus Quinn's sake,`` said Quinn, the USFL's 1984 defensive player of the year after picking off 12 passes for the Oakland Invaders. ``Personally, I know I can play in this league, and I think that by the way I perform at practice and the few snaps I had in the game, they (coaches) believe I can perform. But again, that remains to be seen.`` Cold stares and insults from Team A players are inevitible if a B player makes the team, but the non-strikers said they're ready to deal with animosity. ``I couldn't care less what the other players think of me,`` Montoute said. ``If I'm here, it's to do a job and provide for my family. I respect what those players feel, and I'd hope they respect my situation. I think once they got to know me, they'd realize I'm basically a nice guy. If they don't, that's their problem.`` ``I'm sure there would be some hard feelings at first, but deep inside I think most of them would understand why we did what we did,`` Hold said. ``I think the fact that we won the game may ease the situation. If we had lost, they'd probably resent us even more.`` Michelle Kaufman, The St.Petersburg Times October 1987