Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Inspired by former teammate Derrick Brooks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Chris Hovan wants to assume greater leadership role this year

TAMPA — When tackle Chris Hovan looks around One Buc Place these days, he sees a sizable defensive hole he would love to help fill: the leadership gap left by the departure of linebacker Derrick Brooks.

"I'm just trying to hopefully pick up the ball from Derrick," Hovan said after a recent practice. "The most enjoyable experience I've ever had in my nine-year career was to be his teammate. I've never seen a veteran leader take such control over the locker room."

That means something coming from Hovan, who spent his first five seasons with the Vikings. Known for his hard-nosed style and relentless work ethic, the 6-foot-2, 296-pound lineman says he learned a lot from watching the longtime heart and soul of the Bucs defense.

"In my four years of playing with Derrick, I would just observe what he did and how he led," said Hovan, 31. "And hopefully I can take some of those lessons and apply my own leadership. I believe that you get the respect of your teammates by the way you work — in the film room, in the locker room — and outside, the way you hold yourself in the community. Those are the intangibles that every leader has, and I think Derrick Brooks exemplified that when he played for us."

Coach Raheem Morris is counting on Hovan to help on that front. "He's a veteran leader," Morris said. "He leads by example for the most part, but if he has to snatch you by the collar he will, coaches included. You've got to love that about Hovan. You have to love his demeanor. He's fun to be around. He's here every day. He's bouncing. He's just our guy, our rock."

Hovan has played 140 NFL games and made 133 starts since the Vikings drafted him 25th overall in 2000 out of Boston College. A consensus all-rookie pick, he has 549 career tackles, 211/2 sacks and seven fumble recoveries. With the Bucs, Hovan led all defensive linemen in tackles in 2005, 2006 and 2008, and he ranked second on the line in 2007 with a career-best 95 tackles.

But with defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin gone, Hovan will assume a new role apart from his heightened leadership.

In Kiffin's Tampa 2 defense and 4-3 alignment, Hovan lined up in the gaps and did his best to plug or blast through them. New coordinator Jim Bates also employs a 4-3, but more often than not Hovan and fellow tackle Ryan Sims will set up facing an offensive lineman, allowing the linebackers to shoot the gaps.

"I'll line up a little more head-up on the guard or shade either inside or outside," he said. "It will be predetermined by the strength of the defense."

Hovan played that style in Minnesota, so the adjustment is natural: "It's just a different opportunity for myself and Ryan or whoever's in there to go out and be able to make plays."

Recent voluntary team workouts at One Buc provided an opportunity for Hovan and the defense to get to know Bates and the nuances of his scheme better.

"He's a very demanding, experienced coordinator, and he wants the best out of his players," Hovan said. "As a player, I really respect that. Monte had to do what he had to do, and the guys respected his decision. Coach Bates has been a proven success — and now our job is to go out there and efficiently run the defense for him."

Hovan is excited about his new head coach, too, and sees some similarities with former Bucs secondary coach Mike Tomlin, who guided the Steelers to the Super Bowl title in February.

"I've always liked Coach Morris' style," he said. "I came in here in 2005, and I see a lot of characteristic traits in Coach Morris that I saw in Coach Tomlin. He's a young, energetic coach — very smart. I think he's got such great intangibles. Talk about running through a wall for a guy — I'd run through a brick wall for Raheem Morris.

"Over the years, we've developed a relationship where I respect him more than anybody I've ever been under. I think it's my job to help the offense win games, so I know he's going to put us in that position. He's a great leader."

Something Hovan hopes to be now, too.

Inspired by former teammate Derrick Brooks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Chris Hovan wants to assume greater leadership role this year 06/08/09 [Last modified: Monday, June 8, 2009 9:19pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. A trip down memory lane of Bucs' preseason expectations

    Bucs

    With HBO's Hard Knocks in town and the Bucs opening training camp Friday with their highest expectations in a decade, here's a look back at Tampa Bay's preseason expectations since their last playoff appearance in 2007 — and the results.

    2008

    Jameis Winston and running back Peyton Barber celebrate a touchdown last season against the 49ers. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  2. Get the latest Tampa Bay Buccaneers news delivered daily to your email inbox

    Bucs

    They narrowly missed the playoffs by thismuch.

    Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans (13) celebrates with quarterback Jameis Winston (3) after they connected for a touchdown during a win over the Seattle Seahawks in November in Tampa. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  3. For starters: Rays at Yankees, in a pretty big series

    Blogs

    The Rays open a challenging road trip tonight in New York, the first of four games against the wild-card leading Yankees.

    Chris Archer will be on the mound for the Rays.
  4. Bucs' O.J. Howard says in NFL, 'it's an SEC game every day'

    Blogs

    Bucs rookie O.J. Howard hasn't played in an NFL game yet, but he already appreciates the grind of an NFL season -- every week can be a loss, perhaps more so than in college football, where Alabama went 12-0 in nonconference, non-bowl games in his three years there.

    Bucs rookie O.J. Howard, shown playing for Alabama in the national championship game in Tampa in January, says every game in the NFL is an SEC game, with no letdowns.
  5. Bucs' Mike Evans wants his 'A' game in 4th NFL season

    Blogs

    Bucs receiver Mike Evans has been in the NFL for three seasons, and in two of them, he's had 12 touchdown catches, setting and then matching his own team record. He made the Pro Bowl for the first time last season, but if you ask him to grade those three years, he doesn't see an "A" product just yet.

    Bucs receiver Mike Evans, shown during an OTA workout last month, said he wouldn't give himself an "A" for any of his first three NFL seasons, despite going to the Pro Bowl and twice catching 12 touchdown passes in a season.