TAMPA — Ronde Barber has won a Super Bowl, been to five Pro Bowls and made bigger plays on grander stages (such as the interception that sealed the NFC Championship Game over the Eagles in 2003). But at age 36, being named the NFC defensive player of the week for the ninth time in his career still is a rush for the Bucs cornerback.
In fact, the manner in which Barber won the award — with four tackles, including one for loss, a fumble recovery, an interception and five passes defensed in Sunday's 16-13 win over the Falcons — was more sweet because the Bucs played man-to-man coverage all over the field.
"This is not the first time … but I'm glad it was with a win," Barber said. "It was a great effort by the team. I had some standout plays in there, but I'm always humble with these types of awards. It's nice to be recognized by the naysayers sometimes."
In the early years, Barber's performance was dismissed by some because he was thought of as a "system corner" in the zone-based, Tampa 2 defense. The Bucs have played increasingly less Cover 2 the past three seasons.
"We haven't played that much since Raheem (Morris) has been here," Barber said. "We've got a talented group in the secondary and in the linebacking corps and we feel like we're capable of doing it."
TWO-MAN JOB: With FS Cody Grimm (knee) on injured reserve, the question remains: Will he be replaced by Corey Lynch or Larry Asante? The answer is, yes.
Defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake said he envisions using both players in a rotation of sorts Monday against the Colts, though the player who performs better in practice will get the start.
"We feel really good about those backup players that are about to be starters," Lake said. "There's a chance they could both play throughout the game. Or there's a chance one of them may play. If one of them is real hot, then I'll stick with that guy. I feel comfortable with both of them."
There are differences between the two. Lynch, because of his body type, is a better fit for covering tight ends, Lake said. Asante, meanwhile, is a good fit against slot receivers. But the Bucs won't base the safety rotation on the Colts' personnel.
"Either way, that won't change our defense," Lake said. "Whoever ends up playing, they just have to match up with whoever they're matched with."
ROSTER MOVES: The Bucs promoted TE Collin Franklin from the practice squad, taking the spot opened by Grimm's move to injured reserve. Franklin, a rookie from Iowa State, is a receiving threat who led the Cyclones with 54 receptions in 2010.
Tampa Bay used the open practice squad spot to add C/G Zane Taylor, a rookie free agent from Utah who spent the preseason with the Jets.
Falcon fined for hit on Bucs' Back, not QB
Falcons strong safety William Moore says he was fined $7,500 Wednesday by the league for a helmet hit he had on Bucs running back Earnest Graham. On third and 4 from the Bucs' 36 in the third quarter, Graham caught a pass for a 5-yard gain. Moore came over to aid linebacker Sean Weatherspoon on the tackle and was called for unnecessary roughness. Moore also had a hit on quarterback Josh Freeman late in the fourth quarter when he appeared to launch himself for a helmet-to-helmet hit, but no flag was thrown.