Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach and defensive coordinator Raheem Morris said that he hopes linebacker Barrett Ruud proves the Bucs wrong in letting him leave the team. Ruud signed a one-year contract with the Tennessee Titans on Saturday.
“Obviously personally for me and Barrett, I’m going to miss him to death,” said Morris. “Barrett was more than just my Mike backer, he was a close friend as you guys all know. I wish him nothing but the best. I hope he goes on proves us wrong. It is time to move on and it provides an opportunity for one of these young guys. Tyrone McKenzie, Mason Foster, a Derrell Smith, player X. Some guy is going to step up and show out when we do put the pads on.”
Ruud led the Bucs in tackles the past four seasons. Ruud was a second-round draft pick of the Bucs in 2005 out of Nebraska. After spending a few seasons behind Shelton Quarles, the 6-foot-2, 241-pound Ruud earned the starting position in 2007 and has started in all but one game since that time.
In 2009, Ruud had a career-high 205 tackles that season, which ranks second all-time in Bucs history behind Hardy Nickerson (214). He also had eight passes defensed, one interception, one forced fumble that year. In 2010, Ruud finished with 161 tackles with four passes defensed, two sacks, two forced fumbles and one interception.
The top candidates to replace Ruud are McKenzie and Foster. McKenzie came to the Bucs during the 2010 season and has a deeper knowledge of the scheme. He was a third-round pick of the Patriots in the 2009 NFL Draft. McKenzie has been taking the first team reps at middle linebacker so far in training camp.
Foster was the Bucs’ third-round pick this past April after a stellar college career at Washington.
“He played in a big-time conference in the PAC 10. A lot of passing and they chuck the ball around, but he was an active backer as far as the run game,” said Morris. “I believe he led the nation in tackles. He’s always around the ball. When we sat down with him he is a sharp with a serious demeanor kid. He’s very similar to the Mikes that have been here in the past. The Hardy Nickersons, the Shelton Quarles, the Barrett Ruuds, he goes right into that mold. Him, Tyrone, and Derrell Smith really have that serious type of demeanor. It is hard to get those guys to stop. They are always locked in they are always thinking. They are always some thoughts on their play could be better.
“[Foster] is a leader and a captain. The stuff that Mark talks about all the time in what we do in the draft. He fits the mold of being able to play Mike backer for us. You guys remember we tried Quincy Black at Mike first as well. He went in there as the serious demeanor type guy, he ended up playing Sam for us because we had Barrett. Those are the type of guys you want at linebacker. The precedent has been set by Derrick Brooks, if there was no Shelton Quarles or Hardy Nickerson he probably would have been a Mike. You can get multiple guys to play the Mike position.”
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