Donald Penn is steamed Tampa Bay Buccaneers were left off NFC Pro Bowl roster

Left tackle Donald Penn says one reason he thinks neither he nor any other Buc made the NFC Pro Bowl roster is “people around the league don’t respect us.”

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

Left tackle Donald Penn says one reason he thinks neither he nor any other Buc made the NFC Pro Bowl roster is “people around the league don’t respect us.”

TAMPA — Bucs LT Donald Penn was still steaming Wednesday, a day after learning neither he nor any teammates were selected to the NFC's Pro Bowl roster.

And Penn didn't go quietly. He talked about what he deemed a lack of respect for the Bucs and their talent.

"We're one of those aspiring teams, but I think this league is kind of stuck in the past," Penn said. "There's nothing we can do about it."

The Bucs are the only team with a winning record shut out of the Pro Bowl, joining sub-.500 clubs Cincinnati, Buffalo and Seattle.

"I was so shocked." Penn said. "I'm still shocked. Especially looking at my (position). I'm super shocked."

Penn was named an alternate to the game behind offensive-tackle selections Jordan Gross of Carolina, Chad Clifton of Green Bay and Jason Peters of Philadelphia. Gross was the selection that left Penn most surprised, especially given Carolina's 2-13 record.

The Bucs have two other alternate selections, QB Josh Freeman and TE Kellen Winslow.

The NFL uses votes from players, coaches and fans to choose the rosters, and Penn suggested that fan sentiment beyond Tampa Bay about the Bucs played a role in the team being snubbed.

"(Exposure) has a tremendous (amount) to do with it," said Penn, 27, a fifth-year player out of Utah State. "We haven't been on prime time (TV) in the past two years. I don't think people in the league respect us. I think that's one of the big things, and it shows with the Pro Bowl ballots.

"People around the league don't respect us. Analysts and commentators don't respect us. It shows. You take it for what it's worth. I guess I have to work a lot harder. I guess what I did this year wasn't good enough."

Among players and coaches, Penn said, he believed he has left a favorable impression.

"I know I have respect against players," he said. "They can hate if they want. But when they look at the stat sheet, or at the end of the game, when they feel beat up, I know I earned that respect.

"But, man, I can't control all that. I just have to work harder. This is one of the best years I've had.

"It's a shame. (Winslow) is having a great year. Josh Freeman has one of the best passer ratings in the NFC. It's just crazy."

Said coach Raheem Morris: "It's a little bit of a slap in the face. … We just have to go out there and earn our respect every day."

UP FOR GRABS: RT James Lee missed Sunday's game against the Seahawks and most of the previous game against the Lions with a high ankle sprain but said Wednesday that he was ready to return for Sunday's regular-season finale against the Saints.

He participated in practice, but Morris said he likely will have Lee and backup Jeremy Trueblood battle for the starting job the rest of the week.

"Competition brings the best out of both of those guys," Morris said.

PAIN IN NECK: FB Earnest Graham, who sustained an unspecified neck injury Sunday against the Seahawks on a questionable hit from LB Aaron Curry, attended practice wearing a neck brace that severely restricted his motion.

Morris said the injury isn't serious.

"It's probably precautionary," he said of the brace. "I know (Graham is) week to week, so I wouldn't say it's too severe. If you're a week-to-week guy, generally I'm not worried about anything. It's not like we put him on (injured reserve) or anything."

ROSTER MOVE: WR Arrelious Benn (torn ACL) went on injured reserve and is expected to miss most, if not all, of the offseason. That opened a spot on the active roster for DT Doug Worthington, a practice squad prospect, to join the active roster.

Donald Penn is steamed Tampa Bay Buccaneers were left off NFC Pro Bowl roster 12/29/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 29, 2010 9:37pm]

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