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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Raheem Morris laments loss of Barrett Ruud



When Barrett Ruud agreed to a one-year contract with the Tennessee Titans Saturday night, it ended not only his six-year run with the Bucs, but also the close coach-player relationship he’d built with Tampa Bay coach Raheem Morris.

Ruud and Morris both have reiterated how close they have grown, particularly because of the long hours they spent together game-planning for opponents. Morris has called Ruud the quarterback of his defense (Morris is the defensive coordinator).

Now, with Ruud moving on, it’s a strange moment for Morris.

“Personally, for me and Barrett, I’m going to miss him to death,” Morris said after this morning’s practice. “He was more than just my (middle) linebacker. He was a close friend. I wish him nothing but the best.

“I hope he goes on and proves us wrong and makes it happen.”

But this is no time to become wistful, and Morris knows it. He’s got to line his team up and play the Detroit Lions in five short weeks, and he’ll have to break in a new middle linebacker in the meantime.

“It’s time to move on,” Morris said. “(Ruud’s departure) provides opportunity for one of these young guys like Tyrone McKenzie or Mason Foster or Derrell Smith or Player X – somebody who’s just going to step up.”

Foster, a rookie from Washington, continues to appear most likely to take over in the middle.

[Last modified: Sunday, July 31, 2011 1:58pm]


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