Linebacker Barrett Ruud helping Bucs from afar
Whether middle linebacker Barrett Ruud ever plays for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers again won't be known until the deal making begins during the NFL's free agency period.
But whatever the ultimate outcome of Ruud's contract negotiations, Ruud will have made a contribution to the Bucs in 2011.
When he got a recent phone call from fellow Bucs linebacker Tyrone McKenzie -- Ruud's potential replacement -- asking for help with film study, Ruud was eager to pitch in.
McKenzie learned Ruud had left Tampa for a while to visit his home state of Nebraska, so McKenzie hopped on a flight to meet him there. That's when Ruud graciously extended a helping hand.
“I flew up to Omaha, and (Ruud) drove from Lincoln,” McKenzie said. “Me and him met in the lobby (of a hotel) and went over tape. That shows what kind of class he has and what kind of leadership he has.
“I’m hungry to just do whatever has to be done to help this team win.”
It was an ironic arrangement, Ruud helping educate the very player who might succeed him.
“Barrett’s a great guy,” McKenzie said. “I hope to see all the guys back. But I’m not in charge of the business aspect of things. I’m here to do what I have to do to get the job done.”
McKenzie needs the reinforcement given his limited time on the roster last season. After his release from New England, McKenzie joined the Bucs’ practice squad in November, followed by a promotion to the active roster in December. But the similarities between the scheme he played in at USF and the Bucs' Tampa 2-based system have made the transition easier.