Sean Mahan ready to step in for Faine at center: "Should be a smooth transition"
The role of replacing injured Bucs center Jeff Faine will be a tough one, but recently re-signed Sean Mahan said he's ready for the challenge.
Mahan, 29, said he's taking reps with the first team and it appears - for now - he's the Bucs choice to start Sunday in Buffalo in place of Faine, who is out 4-to-6 weeks with a triceps strain. Mahan said his experience in his career (52 starts) and his familiarity with the Bucs offense during the offseason mini-camps will be a valuable tool.
"I've been here with Tampa for a while, I've been here all summer working with the offense and I know all these guys," Mahan said. "When we play together, it's not like I'm jumping into something I've never been into. So it should be pretty smooth."
Mahan has played in 88 career games with the Bucs (2003-2006) and with the Steelers (2007), but was released on Sept 2. He said he spent the time in between with his family, and also visited a couple teams before getting re-signed Monday.
Mahan also got some work in during camp at center when Faine missed time due to a groin injury, which he said should help him. He pointed to the experience he has working with quarterback Byron Leftwich, both with the Steelers and this summer.
"You can't put a price on experience, and getting in there and getting your feet wet," Mahan said. "It's definitely helped being able to play extensively in the preseason."
Mahan admitted the past couple weeks have been stressful, but "part of the game."
"It's something you have to live with," he said. "So anything is possible. Nothing surprises me anymore, at this point in my career. I've seen a lot of things, I just have to be ready for it."
Either way, the Bucs know they'll miss having the familiar Faine up front. Guard Davin Joseph put it simply: "We've got to step up."
"Having a great player in the middle always helps," Joseph said. "It makes up for a lot of the mistakes I make or (Jeremy Zuttah) makes. Now we've got to be more dependable inside. It's a big role, so now we have to help whoever the center is make adjustments, make sure calls get to the right guys. Being able to dominate the line of scrimmage is going to be huge."
- JOE SMITH