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Legette hopes to see the light of game day

It is a belief shared by many defensive backs in the NFL. There is something better waiting on the next corner.

Which is why Tyrone Legette finds himself in Tampa Bay's training camp. He had spent the past four years in New Orleans, where he played a little on the left corner, a little on the right corner, but not a lot on the whole.

So when he became a free agent in the off-season, he figured Tampa Bay was a place where a cornerback could make a home.

The Bucs' secondary is not exactly an exclusive neighborhood. Tampa Bay was 26th in the league in passing yards allowed last season and 23rd in interceptions. Perhaps a lot of that was caused by an anemic pass rush, but the defensive backs also must be accountable.

Which is where Legette steps in _ somewhere in the regular rotation of cornerbacks, he hopes.

"As a player, you have to look at that," Legette said when asked if the possibility of earning more playing time persuaded him to come to Tampa Bay. "You want to be in the league as long as you can and you want to have fun playing. That's everyone's objective; it plays a part in the decision-making."

Legette's agent said the player had more lucrative offers, but the situation in Tampa Bay was more appealing.

Part of that appeal was the new coaching staff. Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and special teams coach Joe Marciano were on the staff in New Orleans last season, so Legette is familiar with their system and they're familiar with him.

"It's a great situation for me because I can play in the same defense, but in a new environment," Legette said. "It's like getting a fresh start, but not starting from scratch."

It was 1992 when Legette began from scratch. He was drafted in the third round by the Saints out of Nebraska. The draft pick, incidentally, was acquired from the Bucs in exchange for New Orleans' third-round pick, plus a fifth-rounder. The Bucs selected tight end Tyji Armstrong and former cornerback Rogerick Green with their picks.

Legette's improvement in New Orleans was steady, if not spectacular. He played sparingly as a rookie, saw more time in 1993 when he led the team in special-teams tackles, then became the third corner in nickel packages in 1994 and '95.

He has had five starts in his career, mostly against Atlanta's run-and-shoot when the Saints began the game with three corners. It was not until his final game with New Orleans in December that Legette got his first interception.

"He's undersized, but he's quick and he's very, very tough. He's a very good tackler," Kiffin said. "He's a great attitude guy, a real good special-teams player. He gives us quality depth."

Legette is listed at 5-9 on the roster, although that may be a generous measurement. While that is small by NFL standards, it is particularly little in the NFC Central, with jumbo-size receivers like Detroit's Herman Moore, Minnesota's Cris Carter and Chicago's Jeff Graham.

Still, the Bucs sensed an obvious need at cornerback in the off-season and Legette will play some role in filling it. Tampa Bay drafted Donnie Abraham in the third round and signed Legette, along with unrestricted free agent Jay Taylor from Kansas City.

Legette, 26, can offer speed and some experience. What he seeks is his own corner.

"The only way I see myself fitting in is through performance," Legette said. "I'm not a big talker; I'm not the kind of guy who jumps around and tries to praise myself. As a new guy, you have to show the players they can have confidence in you. Let the coaching staff know you'll get it done.

"You're trying to say to them, "You can use me. You can depend on me.' "