Phillips replaced Lynch, now Brooks?
Jermaine Phillips already tackled the unenviable job of taking over from John Lynch. Incredibly, he now could be the man to replace Derrick Brooks.
The Bucs safety has been asked by coach Raheem Morris to attempt to make a position switch to weakside linebacker this off-season, a position manned the last 14 years by Brooks, the 11-time Pro Bowl player who was released Feb. 25.
"Oh man, it crossed mind,'' Phillips said. "When they asked me, I was like first Lynch, now Brooks. Who's going to be next?'
"But I look at it like this: nobody can ever replaced a John Lynch, nobody can ever replace a Derrick Brooks. What they've done for the game of football is unmatched. All I can do is go out there and play the(Will) linebacker position the best way I can. Hopefully, everybody will learn to love me the way they loved them.''
Phillips, who turns 30 later this month, signed a one-year contract that will pay him a base salary of $1.25-million in 2009.
There were several factors in the decision to move Phillips to linebacker. The Bucs are committed to playing third-year pro Sabby Piscitelli at strong safety. Geno Hayes tore the medial collateral ligament in his knee and may not be ready until May to compete at full speed, at the earliest. And the Bucs haven't had any success adding a linebacker through free agency.
"Two weeks ago, (Phillips) was still on the market. He wasn't even here,'' linebackers coach Joe Barry said. "I think it's been a bunch of things, with us not signing a guy, with us signing (Phillips) back, with a guy or two being banged up.
"But the bottom line with moving Jermaine is that Jermaine Phillips is a hell of a football player.
"He's a physical presence...There are guys who have the tag of being a physical presence in the secondary and a hitter and all that stuff. Jermaine Phillips is a load. He will knock you out.' Those are the reasons we felt comfortable even thinking about this.'
Because Phillips played in a lot of eight-man fronts at safety, walking down to 'the box', just four yards from the line of scrimmage, he is comfortable shedding blocks and playing in a confined space.