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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs players welcome switch back to Tampa 2



Chris Hovan feels like the Bucs defense just got its identity back.

The Bucs defensive tackle said his talents weren't best-suited for Jim Bates' scheme and that he welcomes a chance to better utilize his speed and his ability to shoot the gaps.

"There's a reason why they call it Tampa 2. Let's not kid ourselves,'' Hovan said. "Everyone has tried to copy it, scheme, try to mis-manage it their own way. Am I more comfortable? Yes. I'm not a two-gapper. I'm never going to be a two-gapper. I can gap and a half. My abilities are to run, penetrate and create at the line of scrimmage. With that being said, some of the guys are comfortable. But at the same time, we've got to go out there and just run the defense that is called.''

On Monday, coach Raheem Morris decided to relieve Bates, the Bucs defensive coordinator, of his play-calling duties and will take over the defense.

The Bucs defense ranks 26th overall in the NFL and last against the run. But players were careful not to heap the blame on Bates or his scheme. 

"Right now, we're going through some trying times. Right now, we're going through some adversity,'' Hovan said. "But it's for us to come together individually, collectively as a group to get through this.

"Should one be to blame? No. Nothing is to blame. At the end of the day, we didn't get enough wins and right now there's changes because of it. That's the facts of life right now.''

Bucs rookie defensive tackle Roy Miller, who played a similar one-gap scheme at Texas, said he was excited to see what he could do in the Tampa 2.

"This is what I've done in college and made a lot of plays doing it,'' Miller said. "It also helps us to get off on the pass rush, too. I'm just excited, I couldn't be more excited. I dreamed of coming here. Warren Sapp, all those guys played in this type of defense and just excited to be a part of that.

"Just looking forward to going out there and seeing what I can do in this defense.''

Linebacker Geno Hayes, who was drafted out of Florida State to play the old system, believes the Bucs will see an improvement in their run defense. It also will take advantage of his speed at linebacker.

"It's going to be real good, we're going to have more plays to make on the run and the backers can be more involved. It's going to be good,'' Hayes said. " kind of simplifies things for the back guys who have to make all the run fits and you don't put a lot of pressure on your defensive tackles to make a lot of two-gap plays. It's going to be good for us. We're going to take this week, the extra days we have to get it right.''

Linebacker Barrett Ruud, who leads the team in tackles, said the Bucs won't be able to make a total overhaul of Bates' system in a week. He said he was hopeful the switch back to elements of the old system will improve the defense.

"It's tough to say. Obviously, we're 1-9 and we've been struggling,'' Ruud said. "Hopefully a change will provide some good things. Is it the right move? It remains to be seen. We're going to go in and play and hopefully it turns out to be the right move because we need to get some wins, 1-9 is definitely not good enough.

"One and nine is a wild ride. Everything is very easy when you're winning all your games. I'm sure the New Orleans Saints think life is very good right now. It's very easy. When you lose, you learn about character. You learn about the guys that are going to play through a lot of adversity. That's one thing our team has never lacked is effort. We haven't executed very good, but the effort has always been there.''

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 3:49pm]


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