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Tampa Bay Buccaneers players pleased with choice of Raheem Morris

As a member of the Buccaneers' offensive line, right tackle Jeremy Trueblood has had only limited interaction with newly promoted head coach Raheem Morris, the team's former defensive backs coach.

But even from a distance, Trueblood likes what he has seen.

"I see the way our DBs respond to him and they really rally around him," Trueblood said. "He looks like the type of guy who commands respect and gives respect at the same time. I think I'm going to really enjoy playing for him. I could see that attitude spreading through the whole team."

It already is.

There was almost a uniform reaction from players over the news of Morris' appointment to be Jon Gruden's successor. Morris has long been among the players' favorites on the coaching staff, a guy many have social relationships with as well as professional ones.

One of Morris' biggest supporters has been cornerback Ronde Barber.

"He is a great example for all of us about how to really tap into your talents and run with them," said Barber, who often has compared Morris with Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, a former Bucs assistant. "He's energetic, diligent at his job and I know well respected by everyone that works with him. He's a star in the making and we've known that for a long time."

That kind of enthusiastic reaction was practically universal.

"Basically, I'm ecstatic over the decision," linebacker Barrett Ruud said. "Obviously I'm a good friend of Raheem's, I'm a huge fan of his as a coach and I think he was on that fast track to being a head coach. …

"I think he brings not only great X's and O's strategy and fundamental football, but he really knows situational football, too. You combine that with knowing how to motivate people and knowing how to push people, I think he's going to be a great coach."

He'll do that, running back Warrick Dunn said, by letting players be players.

"He's a guy who's going to let the players just play and take control of the game," Dunn said. "He's going to bring a little bit of new fire, a little tenacity and I think for some of the young guys, and definitely for some of us older guys, it's good to have that spice."

One of Morris' challenges will be to identify an offensive coordinator and a system that will mesh well with the team's current core. Still, Trueblood has confidence Morris — a coach whose experience has come exclusively on defense — can pull it off.

"I'm excited to see what we're going to do," Trueblood said. "If we keep our own Tampa style of things, that would be nice. But if not, I look forward to the challenge."

Stephen F. Holder can be reached at sholder@sptimes.com.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers players pleased with choice of Raheem Morris 01/17/09 [Last modified: Saturday, January 17, 2009 10:28pm]
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