TAMPA — Maybe if he pretended to husk an ear of corn after every tackle.
Barrett Ruud, an unassuming former Nebraska linebacker in his fourth season, doesn't really know why he was overlooked again for the Pro Bowl.
Ruud leads the Bucs with 154 tackles. Second is Derrick Brooks, who was named to his 11th Pro Bowl and who has 97 tackles.
"I got the shaft," Ruud said. "Somebody's got to get it, though."
"The old saying is usually you go a couple years after you're supposed to and you stay a couple years longer. I'm not going to throw a tantrum or anything. I would've liked to have gone. Everybody wants to have that tag as a Pro Bowler, but unfortunately it didn't happen. All I can do is keep playing to get into the playoffs now."
San Francisco's Patrick Willis and Carolina's Jon Beason were voted to the NFC team at inside linebacker, a position that's hard for fans to evaluate.
"And when you don't get up and have a big-time celebration, sometimes they don't know who did anything," Ruud said. "I can definitely see why I get kind of ignored or not recognized by the casual fan."
Getting overlooked is nothing new to Ruud. "I was a three-star recruit in Super Prep magazine," he said. "I never got that much attention. But at the same time, I've had players say stuff to me, and that means a lot. I would be lying if I said I never want to be a Pro Bowler, but it does mean the most when players come up and say they really like what we're doing. That really does mean the most. The Pro Bowl tag is always nice, too."
But Ruud was not even named an alternate.
SEEING RED: WR Antonio Bryant, asked about the Bucs' red zone struggles, offered a potential solution: throw to him more.
"I would like to be involved more in the red zone, to be honest," he said. "I'm quite sure a lot of the receivers would like to be involved more. But we have our designated plays that we're going to run, and hopefully we're going to execute them a lot better. Unfortunately, we've been in the red zone many a time. It's not like we're not getting there. We just have to capitalize. The biggest thing is to just consistently score touchdowns."
Tampa Bay has 18 touchdowns in 51 trips inside the red zone (35.3 percent). Opponents have 14 touchdowns in 28 visits.
INJURY UPDATE: QB Jeff Garcia (calf) took most of the reps with the first-team offense for the second straight day and was expected to play Sunday against the Chargers. Brooks (ribs) was limited. DT Chris Hovan (knee) and Jovan Haye (knee) participated fully. DE Gaines Adams (ankle) and Greg White (shoulder) were limited.