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September 10, 2012 @ 3:21 pm
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Penn Says Consistency Is Key To Bucs' Season

Written by Dory
Dory LeBlanc


Beat Writer E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
A day after the Bucs defense dominated the Panther ground game, holding Carolina to only 10 yards rushing, the Bucs were back at One Buc Place preparing for their next battle, the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants. Left tackle Donald Penn spoke about the one thing the Buccaneers need to do - be consistent.
At One Buc Place on Monday, it was not the scene you would expect from a football team that got their first win since October 2011. The locker room was quiet and the players were focused. One game behind them with a long season still ahead, the Bucs were back to business.

Donald Penn, an integral part of the Bucs’ offensive front, missed most of the preseason with a calf injury he sustained preparing in California for training camp. His first action was the third preseason game, the same game that Pro Bowl right guard Davin Joseph suffered a season ending knee injury.

In the season opener, the left side of the line protected Josh Freeman’s blind side sufficiently; without surrendering a sack to the Panthers, but Freeman did feel some pressure coming from that side. Penn and Carl Nicks were able to hold off Carolina’s front seven as both sacks to Freeman came from the right.

The Bucs scored a touchdown on their first possession against their division rivals, something the 2011 Buccaneer squad did only once, in a 48-14 loss to Jacksonville. The quick start was important to the 6-5, 340 pound seventh year left tackle, but there were other important keys to take away from the 16-10 Buccaneer victory and some things that the front five have to keep up throughout the remaining 15 games.

“You got to keep the pedal to the metal when you got it going down.” Penn said. “We gave them a couple of chances, and we had chances early to put the game away, so we got to learn from that.

“In the past it’s taken us a while to start,” Penn said, “the past couple of games it seems like we’ve been able to come and start, but the thing is we’ve got to get to is we got to finish.  We slowed down in the second half of the game and that’s something we need to really work on. Some teams, they might get a couple breaks here and there and they might make it into a game. Luckily, it went our way, but we got to make sure we stay on the consistency like I’ve been saying, that’s going to be one of the biggest things on the year – we got to be consistent. So, we got to really finish that second half a lot better.”

Consistency on the offensive line is something PewterReport.com has talked about frequently, starting with Penn’s absence in training camp to Ted Larsen replacing the injured Joseph. Consistency was something Penn brought up repeatedly Monday morning in the locker room.

“We just got to stay consistent,” Penn said, “we got a tough one coming up the next couple of weeks, and I’m not going to talk about the future I’m talking about this week. We got the Giants this week; they’re coming off a loss (and) that front seven is going to be tough. That’s really what we’re focused on, we got to switch off this victory real fast and get back to business.”

Back to business is preparing for a Giants defensive front that boasted two linemen who finished in the top 21 in the NFL for sacks a year ago. Former USF Bull defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul was fourth in the league with 16.5 sacks in 2011 while his counterpart Osi Umenyiora was tied for 21st with nine. As a team, New York recorded 48 sacks, tied with Baltimore, and two behind the league-leaders Minnesota and Philadelphia who were even at 50.

“They can move,” Penn said, “some of those guys – the two guys I’m going against – they cut like receivers, they’re 275, 285 so they’re big, strong, tough guys and move around well, they work well together. They’ve been playing together for a while, they work well together so we want to have a good scheme and come out and execute.”

Execution is one thing Greg Schiano has been preaching since arriving in Tampa Bay, with ball security being the biggest thorn in his side, followed by not turning the ball over. Against Carolina, the Bucs did neither, and the players have bought in to how important those two factors are.

“It’s always important, all the time.” Penn said. “That’s one thing Coach (Schiano) stress and Josh and all the backs that touched the ball and everybody that touched the ball did a great job holding on to it and that’s going to be a key all season. We’ll see, if we win the turnover battle, we should win a lot of games."

One of the most satisfying aspects of the game for the Buccaneer offense was Freeman being able to take a knee to end the game, something the Tampa Bay veterans didn’t see too often last year, but aren’t taking for granted after the week one victory.

“It’s been something we’ve wanted to do.” Penn said. “Hopefully we continue the success; it’s going to be tough. We’ve got a great front seven we’re going against this week, so we really got to keep on doing what we’re doing and continue to stay with it and you just got to try to stay consistent, that’s the thing. In the past we haven’t been consistent, so we’re trying to turn all those things around and one of the main things to do to turn it around is being consistent and that was one of our problems.”

The Tampa Bay game plan under offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan is fluid; with each opponent that comes up, different schemes will be shown for the Bucs’ offense to have optimal success this year. Penn said what people saw Sunday isn’t necessarily what they should expect the rest of the season.

“You know (Mike) Sullivan,” Penn said, “he’s a great O-Coordinator. I’m really excited…we had a couple more things that we haven’t shown yet we still have in the package. But, he’s doing a good job mixing it up and believing in us to keep calling the plays. We have a stable of stuff we like to run, and we have a couple other things to keep people off guard, and I think we’re doing a good mix of all that.”

Looking back on Sunday afternoon’s game, the Bucs should feel a major sense of accomplishment with their victory. One of the worst defenses in the league against the run in 2011 held a potent Panther running attack to 10 yards. An offense that committed an NFL-worst 40 turnovers last season made very few mistakes and Freeman was efficient despite only throwing for 138 yards. But like it was repeated Monday morning, consistency is the biggest key and taking it one week at a time is the best way to achieve that.

“It’s a big relief off our shoulders, but we got to keep it going, we got a tough one this week.”
Last modified on Tuesday, 11 September 2012 12:10

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  • avatar

    Getting big # 70 off of the Vikings practice squad was one of the best moves made by our GM. Too bad Donald shoved his man into Joseph's leg but that's football.
  • avatar

    I've got to give credit where credit is due and so far Penn has been playing good. I believe he has bought into the program and is seriously trying to keep his weight at a reasonable level in order to maintain his quickness. Go Bucs!
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