Make us your home page

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

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tim Crowder showing his versatility on two units for Tampa Bay Buccaneers

TAMPA — There are few things more disconcerting for an NFL player than when his coaches begin avoiding eye contact, especially just before final cuts.

Ask the Bucs' Tim Crowder, who let the obvious disinterest of his former coaches in Denver distract him from making an impression on them.

The outcome was that Crowder's eventual release from the Broncos landed him in Tampa Bay, where he now has the Bucs' undivided attention.

"I kind of got too distracted by everything, thinking I didn't have a chance when I really did," said Crowder, reflecting on how he went from a touted second-round pick to merely trying to break into the Bucs' rotation in 2009.

"I kind of cut myself. It was concentration. I didn't want to be there any more. I felt like a zombie. The coaches don't speak to you. You could see the handwriting on the wall. You walk down the hall and you see your own coach, and he doesn't say a word to you. … But that's just the business of it."

Now in his fourth season, the former University of Texas star is rejuvenated with the Bucs, showing he can be equally or more productive than the team's starting ends, even coming off the bench.

Most impressive, Crowder played an assortment of roles in coach Raheem Morris' defense. He was assigned to cover Cleveland's platoon of tight ends in Week 1 and was a pass-rush specialist against Carolina in Week 2, recording two sacks and a forced fumble.

Just imagine what he might do as a starter. Then again, he is — as far as the Bucs are concerned.

"Really, we have three starting ends," defensive line coach Todd Wash said, referring to Crowder as well as left end Kyle Moore and right end Stylez White.

The Bucs prefer Crowder coming in off the bench, giving them fresh legs in a variety of ways while freeing him up for one of his most vital roles, on special teams. He plays about 35 to 40 snaps on defense, according to Wash, not much less than he would as a full-time starter. But Crowder is so skilled on special teams that coaches intentionally preserve some of his energy for use in the kicking game.

And his best asset is his versatility. Crowder cites playing in Denver's 3-4 defense as the reason for his understanding of pass coverage, something edge rushers must do in 3-4 schemes. And, if it comes to it, Crowder's willing to do just about anything the Bucs need.

"Hey, I was a tight end in high school, so I can catch, too, if they want me at tight end," the 25-year-old cracked.

Having been through his travails in Denver, Crowder has a unique perspective that allows him to look beyond labels to recognize his value to the team — starter or not.

"A lot of guys kind of get distracted over that starter thing too much," he said. "I feel like early in my career, that's what I did. Now, my mind-set is to just destroy the (opponent) when I'm in there. No matter who's in front of me, can't nobody block me. That's the mind-set that I have.

"You can start the game, but if the backup is getting 40 plays and you're only getting 20, what's the point of starting? You just get to run out of the tunnel. That's it. I don't really get wrapped up in that starting thing too much."

Said Wash: "He sees himself as a starter, he prepares as a starter and he's got the talent to be a starter. It's just not the role he has on this football team because of the special teams emphasis that he has. … But we're very excited about what we have in him. Hey, he was a second-round pick and things didn't work. But sometimes it's just a matter of a change of scenery and players respond."

Crowder has had some other changes, too, like three switches at defensive coordinator in his first three seasons. That stunted his development and made it harder for him to stand out. But Crowder cites having continuity under Morris as a key to what is shaping up as a breakout season for him. With the Broncos, Crowder played extensively in 13 games as a rookie in 2007 but had just six appearances in 2008. New coach Josh McDaniels cut him a year later.

He has come a long way from those days in Denver, where he learned some hard lessons.

"I blame everything on myself," Crowder said. "I had already counted myself out before the chips had fallen. When (coaches) bring their own guys in, I started feeling like I was the odd (man) out. So, I let that dictate my play."

Now, Crowder is so valuable that his play is beginning to dictate whether opposing offenses have success. And as for his coaches, seems they can't get enough of him.

Stephen F. Holder can be reached at

Up next

Bucs vs. Steelers

1 p.m. Sunday, Raymond James Stadium, Tampa (blacked out)

Blount studying up

LeGarrette Blount says he's getting closer to being ready and that the upcoming bye helps. 9C

Tim Crowder showing his versatility on two units for Tampa Bay Buccaneers 09/24/10 [Last modified: Friday, September 24, 2010 10:26pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Cup-winning Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk makes Hockey Hall of Fame

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman said Dave Andreychuk's name has surfaced often the past eight years with the selection committee.

    30 Oct 2001:  Left wing Dave Andreychuk #25 of the Tampa Bay Lightning skates towards the blue line during the NHL game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada.  The Maple Leafs defeated the Lightning 3-2.  Mandatory Credit:  Dave Sanford /Allsport
  2. Rays acquire slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria from Marlins

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Chaim Bloom said the Rays weren't necessarily in the market for a shortstop. The team has a number of those. But when the Marlins recently began shopping Adeiny Hechavarria, well, that was too much to pass up.

    Adeiny Hechavarria has emerged as one of baseball’s top defensive shortstops in the past three seasons with the Marlins.
  3. Rays at Pirates, 7:05 p.m. Tuesday, Pittsburgh

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Pirates

    7:05, PNC Park

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Probable pitchers

    Rays: Alex Cobb (6-5, 4.05)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Alex Cobb #53 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
  4. Lightning journal: Forward Yanni Gourde agrees to two-year deal

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Just three years ago, Yanni Gourde was fighting to stay in pro hockey.

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Yanni Gourde celebrates after scoring against the Florida Panthers during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 11, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA108
  5. What they're saying about Dave Andreychuk making Hall of Fame

    Lightning Strikes

    "Dave helped me so much when I was just starting my career, a young kid that was looking to find his way as a hockey player, a person and a member of the Tampa Bay community. In addition to watching him compile such awe-inspiring statistics, I remember him as a big brother to me and many others, making sure all the …