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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs O-line deserves credit for selflessness



There will be a more thorough version of this in the Friday newspaper, but one of the things we're addressing at One Buc Place this week is the series of shakeups on the offensive line.

The latest, of course, involved Jeremy Zuttah moving to right guard to fill in for Davin Joseph who went on injured reserve with a broken foot on Sunday. This is Zuttah's third different position this season. And, of course, there's been the ongoing battle of sorts between James Lee and Jeremy Trueblood at right tackle, with Trueblood on the outside looking in after starting 67 consecutive games prior to his knee injury a few weeks ago.

But the observation that stuck with me most was the way the offensive linemen shared a true team-first attitude. Corny as it might sound, these guys have truly put aside selfish thoughts and gotten on board with whatever best positions the team to win. In the case of Zuttah, that has meant playing musical positions all year long, particularly losing out on the starting left guard job because he was filling in for injured center Jeff Faine. And Trueblood, despite never having been legitimately threatened with losing his job in four years, has had a mature response to the situation.

Don't think things would be this way on every team.

"We trust that the coaches are going to do what they feel is going to give us the best chance to win, not only today, but to keep winning," Zuttah said. "If you look at things that way, you can’t be upset about it."

Here's Trueblood: "We have a lot of good guys on this O line. We’re all friends. And the best part about it is, how can you get mad when you still have a job playing a kid’s game? We’re living a dream. I don’t understand how I could get mad. I actually have been able to enjoy things a little more because I’m competing more. It kind of brings back your love for the game a little."

The Bucs are going to start their sixth different combination of offensive line when they play the Falcons on Sunday. That usually would mean things have been pretty rocky, but these guys have stood up to the challenge and performed well in spite of injuries, position changes and releases (Keydrick Vincent). And when coaching decisions haven't t worked in their favors, they've dealt with it professionally.

"It’s about dealing with brutal honesty," coach Raheem Morris said. "You get them out there and you have to be able to tell them when they’re playing and when they’re not playing. . . (I say) 'I'm going to tolerate you until I can replace you. You have to go out there and compete.' That lets everybody know that we’re going out there and we’re competing every day for our jobs."

Trueblood and his linemates are buying in.

"Raheem really means it," Trueblood said. "And it's all out there and up front, so you can’t be mad about it."

Morris summed it up with one precise statement.

"There’s been a lot of men," he said, "who have shown some character."

[Last modified: Thursday, December 2, 2010 7:38pm]


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