As the Tampa Bay Buccaneers embark on their 2005 campaign this Sunday at Minnesota, here are a couple of notes fans might be interested in.
NEW FACES AT ONE BUC PLACE
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have 18 new players on their roster this year, including 10 draft picks. That means that one-third of the 2005 team is brand-spanking new.
The Bucs will also feature a total of 10 new starters from a year ago, including three on defense (nose tackle Chris Hovan, strongside linebacker Ryan Nece and free safety Dexter Jackson), six on offense when the team starts with a two-tight set (left tackle Anthony Davis, running back Carnell Williams, tight ends Anthony Becht and Alex Smith, right guard Sean Mahan and left guard Dan Buenning), and a new starting kicker in Matt Bryant.
YOUTH GONE WILD
The Buccaneers have quickly gone from being an old team to transitioning into a younger one in just one offseason. In 2004, the Bucs had 19 players over 30 years of age on its opening day roster. Tampa Bay will enter 2005 with just 14 players over 30 on its roster.
While the five-player difference doesn't seem that extreme, take a look at what happens when one counts the number of players over the age of 31. In 2004, Tampa Bay had 13 players over the age of 31 on its opening day roster. This season, the Bucs' active roster boasts just five players over 31.
Fourth-year strong safety Jermaine Phillips doesn't think youth will be a negative issue this year for the Buccaneers.
"Everybody is young at some point," Phillips said. "The only way you are ever going to be able to come along is to get experience. I've been able to get that and hopefully it just carries on with these guys. I don't look at it as a disadvantage."
The oldest Buccaneer on the roster this year is 35-year old long snapper Dave Moore. The youngest Buccaneer is rookie linebacker Barrett Ruud, who is 22 years old. Second-year receiver Michael Clayton, who is also 22, is Tampa Bay's second-youngest player.
Tampa Bay rookie wide receivers J.R. Russell and Paris Warren have switched their jersey numbers upon making the team's 53-man roster. Russell, who wore number 14 in the preseason, will now wear number 87. Warren, who wore number 15 in August, will now sport number 82. Newly acquired Buccaneers wide receiver Mark Jones will wear number 89.
THE MIAMI BUCCANEERS?
The Buccaneers have 12 players from the state of Florida on their active roster and practice squad. The city of Miami has produced the most current Bucs with four players - quarterback Brian Griese, fullback Jameel Cook and cornerbacks Torrie Cox and Blue Adams - calling that city home. Tampa is second with three players - cornerback Juran Bolden, wide receiver J.R. Russell and practice squad defensive end Andrew Williams - hailing from the Bucs' hometown. The state of California is second behind Florida with eight Buccaneers hailing from the Golden State.
GRADUATING TO THE BUCCANEERS
Florida State University has produced the most number of current Buccaneers. Linebacker Derrick Brooks, defensive end Greg Spires and safeties Dexter Jackson and Claudius Osei (practice squad) are former Seminoles. The University of Florida is second with three alumni. Right tackle Kenyatta Walker, wide receiver Ike Hilliard and running back Earnest Graham are all former Gators.
Pittsburgh (tight end Dave Moore and cornerback Torrie Cox), LSU (defensive tackle Anthony McFarland and wide receiver Michael Clayton), Ohio State (wide receiver Joey Galloway and safety Will Allen), Southern Cal (cornerback Brian Kelly and practice squad linebacker Matt Grootegoed) and Louisville (defensive end Dewayne White and wide receiver J.R. Russell) have all produced two Buccaneers.
BROOKS COULD BE IN ELITE COMPANY
If Tampa Bay linebacker Derrick Brooks makes his ninth consecutive Pro Bowl this season, he will tie the feat achieved by former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Jack Lambert and former Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Derrick Thomas, who each made nine trips to Hawaii. Brooks, whose first Pro Bowl berth was in 1997, would only trail Miami's Junior Seau, who has made 12 Pro Bowls, which is an NFL record for linebackers, and former Chicago linebacker Mike Singletary and ex-New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor, who have each made 10 Pro Bowls.
Brooks also enters the 2005 season with 144 consecutive starts, which is the most for any active NFL defender. As soon as Brooks plays in five games this year he will have played in 165 NFL games and will surpass former Tampa Bay safety John Lynch's mark of 164 games played.
However, tight end/long snapper Dave Moore enters this season seeing action in one more game than Brooks has. Moore has played in 161 total games in Tampa Bay while Brooks has seen action in 160. Former left tackle Paul Gruber holds the franchise record for games played with 183.
A-TRAIN CHUGGING TOWARDS 5,000 YARDS
Buccaneers fullback Mike Alstott, who is entering his 10th season in Tampa Bay, has 4,837 career rushing yards and needs just 163 yards this year to become the second Buc with 5,000. James Wilder is the franchise's current all-time rushing leader with 5,957 yards.
BUCS' 2005 PRESEASON SUPERLATIVES
Before the Buccaneers' regular season gets under way at Minnesota on Sunday, let's take a quick look back on some of the achievements of Tampa Bay's 2005 preseason, which concluded with a 2-2 record thanks to a 38-14 win over Houston on September 1.
Tampa Bay quarterback Chris Simms had a dynamite preseason, leading the team in several categories, including passing attempts (47), completions (31), passing yards (353), completion percentage (66 percent), yards per attempt (7.51), touchdowns (four) and quarterback rating (107.8). Starter Brian Griese finished the preseason completing 18-of-28 passes (64.3 percent) for 137 yards with zero touchdowns and no interceptions.
Rookie wide receiver J.R. Russell led the Bucs in receptions with 11 catches for 139 yards (12.6 avg.) and one touchdown. Fellow rookie receiver Paris Warren, who had three catches for 74 yards, led the Bucs with two touchdown catches and a 24.7-yard average.
Earnest Graham led Tampa Bay in rushing yards with 158 on 36 carries (4.4 avg.) and produced three touchdowns, including two rushing scores. Starting halfback Carnell "Cadillac" Williams had 48 yards on 12 carries (4.0 avg.) in his first NFL preseason.
Buccaneers rookie linebacker Barrett Ruud led Tampa Bay in tackles in the preseason with 14, including 10 solo stops. Cornerback Ronyell Whitaker, who was released during the first wave of roster cuts, also had 14 tackles. Linebacker Marquis Cooper was second on the team with 13 tackles, including 12 solos, followed by cornerback Blue Adams, who posted 11 tackles, including 10 solo stops.
Second-year safety Will Allen led the team in special teams tackles with five. Cornerback Torrie Cox and safety Kalvin Pearson, who is now on the practice squad, each notched three special teams stops.
While the Buccaneers defense recorded a paltry four sacks through preseason games, Tampa Bay did come through with 12 turnovers, including six interceptions and six fumble recoveries. The Bucs also recorded 25 pass breakups in four preseason contests.
Despite connecting on all four field goals in the preseason, the team let go of Todd France, opting instead for Matt Bryant to be Tampa Bay's kicker. Bryant was 4-of-5 in the preseason with his only miss coming from 53 yards.
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