The Bucs fall to division rivals New Orleans in the Superdome - 11/6/2011
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers take on the New Orleans Saints at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday October 16.
Ntohing beats a win in on national TV in front of a sold out crowd!
By Tom Krasniqi
When Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano took over back in January, he made it clear what his vision was on offense: smash-mouth football revolving around a power running game to set the opponent up for deep shots down the field. Through five days of training camp, that vision is starting to manifest itself.
Anyone will tell you the key to any great offense starts up with the offensive line. The Bucs felt like they needed an upgrade so they went out in free agency and signed Pro Bowl guard Carl Nicks to a huge 5-year deal. The signing accomplished two things: Add an integral piece to your team and weaken a division rival (Saints)at the same time. What better way to incorporate a physical rushing attack by adding the 6-5, 343-pound Nicks. After practice, Nicks made it clear that while he enjoyed playing for the pass-first Saints offense, the ground-and-pound philosophy in Tampa Bay was a perfect match for his skill set. “Absolutely…first thing, it gets the defensive line tired. You can wear them down and that helps your pass protection”, says Nicks.
Nicks says his mission is to pound opponents into submission. “Knocking a guy down and watching him get up. Just seeing the tiredness and the hurt in his eyes…you just thrive off that”, says Nicks. There’s no doubt about Nicks’ motivation when he steps out on that field. He wants to beat you down mentally and physically. “If I can maul on somebody every play, that’s what I’m gonna do”.
Many wondered why Nicks would leave a 13-win team in the Saints to join a Bucs team that went 4-12 a year ago. Some say Schiano’s first year in Tampa Bay will be a rebuilding year. Whatever you do, do not mention the ‘R’ word around Nicks. “It’s not a rebuilding year. We’re trying to win. We’re trying to shock some teams”, says Nicks. Nicks made references to the Lions and 49ers. Both Detroit and San Francisco were 6-10 in 2010 before making their leap forward to postseason play last year.
The Bucs offensive line will have two new starters: Jeremy Zuttah takes over at center for Jeff Faine and Nicks moves into the right guard spot. Left tackle Donald Penn is nursing a calf strain and is out of action for a while but the team expects him to be ready for the season opener. The Bucs have the best guard tandem in the game with Nicks joining Pro Bowl right guard Davin Joseph. Jeremy Trueblood returns as the starter at right tackle. So how long will it take for this unit to mesh? “It’s going to take [until the end of] camp. It’ll take a couple of weeks to really just getting to know the guys”, says Joseph. There is potential for the Bucs to have one of the best O-lines in the NFL . “On paper, we look good. But you have to put it on tape and that’s our challenge…pushing each other every day”, opines Joseph. If and when it comes together, opposing defenses will have their hands full on Sundays this fall.
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