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NFL honors Bucs' Micheal Spurlock for play on special teams

TAMPA — Bucs WR/KR Micheal Spurlock on Wednesday was named the NFC's special teams player of the week, but the honor barely made a ripple at One Buc Place.

"We had the big knock on us for not returning (a kickoff for a touchdown)," coach Raheem Morris said. "Now I think we have three in the last (three years). It's almost becoming like we expect it now."

That's because the return game has been, arguably, the only phase in which the Bucs have excelled. In two of their three wins, they have scored on special teams.

That despite injuries taking a major toll.

Spurlock, whose 77-yard punt return with 2:25 left against the Saints tied the score, joins Clifton Smith (83-yard kickoff return in Week 9) and Sammie Stroughter (97-yard kickoff return for a score in Week 6) — both lost for the season — in winning the special teams honor. The Bucs are the first club to have three returners honored in the same season.

"I told them (Wednesday) morning … 'Different faces, same results,' " Morris said.

That speaks to a culture in which special teams are emphasized and to the consistency of coordinator Rich Bisaccia, now in his eighth season (but reportedly soon to be heading to the University of Tennessee).

Special teams are something even starters have been willing to participate in. LB Geno Hayes blocked a punt against Green Bay, allowing CB Ronde Barber to scoop up the ball and score.

"I know our guys like it," Morris said. "I know we probably have the only 34-year old (playing special teams). I know Ronde likes to go out there. I know we have the only left tackle (Donald Penn) rushing field goals; the starting left guard (Jeremy Zuttah), the starting right tackle (Jeremy Trueblood).

"I know we have the only two starting linebackers in the league who go wire to wire on special teams, Geno and Quincy Black. It's just become who we are. It doesn't faze us. It's almost (considered) a mental weakness thing if you start to complain about it. It's frowned upon."

WILLIAMS' OFFER: The Bucs made a one-year contract extension offer to director of pro personnel Doug Williams. He is under consideration for the coaching post at Southern University and isn't expected to decide until next week.

Williams' contract with the Bucs expires in February. In addition to his personnel duties, Williams is considered a valuable mentor to young players.

INJURY UPDATE: RB Derrick Ward was among those unable to practice Wednesday after sustaining a blow to his knee Sunday. That, coupled with the success of Cadillac Williams on Sunday, prompted Ward to sit out the latter stages of the game. But offensive coordinator Greg Olson indicated Ward would play against the Falcons.

. fast facts

2010 opponents

No matter what happens Sunday, the Bucs' schedule for next season is set.

As always, they will play fellow NFC South teams twice. Because of the NFL's predetermined rotation, they also will play each team from the NFC West and AFC North. Finally, they will play fellow last-place teams from the NFC's East and North.

The opponents:

Home: Falcons, Panthers, Saints, Seahawks, Rams, Browns, Steelers, Lions. Road: Falcons, Panthers, Saints, Cardinals, 49ers, Ravens, Bengals, Redskins.

Times and dates have not been determined.

NFL honors Bucs' Micheal Spurlock for play on special teams 12/30/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 30, 2009 9:37pm]
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