Bucs offensive line gets huge contributions from unlikely sources
If someone would have told Bucs coach Raheem Morris that his starting offensive line would consist of a right tackle making his first NFL start (James Lee), a left guard playing in his second career game (Ted Larsen) and a center who isn’t really a center (Jeremy Zuttah), it’s likely he would have been hard-pressed to express much confidence.
But that was the Bucs’ reality on Sunday, and the results were surprisingly promising. Though QB Josh Freeman was sacked twice (one of those was the fault of TE John Gilmore), the offensive line had one of its best days, despite missing starting RT Jeremy Trueblood to a knee injury and two days after starting left guard Keydrick Vincent was waived.
Freeman was able to stand confidently in the pocket and deliver passes of 47 and 53 yards to Mike Williams and Arrelious Benn, respectively, and RB LeGarrette Blount had sizable lanes through which to run largely because of the play of an offensive line that took the aggression to the Cardinals rather than the other way around.
“They blocked, they played hard, they played every snap,” Morris said. “They gave up some things, but that didn’t stop them from pushing and it didn’t stop them from fighting. They’re all babies. We got some new players in there.”
Lee, a third-year pro from South Carolina State, has fought to make the roster the past two seasons but had a chance to see his first significant action as a Buccaneer. It was a chance he couldn’t afford to waste.
“As a group, besides Larsen, we’ve been here together for the last two years,” he said. “We know what to expect. I’ve sat in the back and watched for two years and seen how these boys work. So, it was either add to it or what else? I want to be here. It’s that or nothing for me. So that’s (an attitude) I’ve just developed. It’s that or nothing – you don’t play (in the NFL).
“You have to take advantage because, for the last two years, I sat back and nobody got hurt. So, this was an opportunity for me.”
The Bucs’ line has long been under close examination, but given it’s recent performances, perhaps it’s turning a corner. And, remember, starting C Jeff Faine is due back in a week or two.
“We’ve just been fighting,” said Zuttah, whose primary position is guard. “That’s our whole team. At the end of the day, nobody wants to hear you have starters hurt. Nobody cares. You have to do what you have to do.”