Buccaneers reserve linebacker Dekoda Watson blocked a punt, recovered a fumble and recorded two special teams tackles to win the NFC Special Teams Player of the Month award. It was the first time Watson has won honors from the league.
Tampa Bay reserve linebacker Dekoda Watson won NFC Special Teams Player of the Month honors for November on Thursday. Watson blocked his first punt in the NFL, which came in the Buccaneers' 34-24 victory over the San Diego Chargers three weeks ago. Fellow linebacker Adam Hayward scooped up the blocked punt and returned it for a key touchdown in the third quarter to give the Buccaneers the lead.
“We’ve been working on that, and it finally came through, Watson said after his blocked punt. “Shout out to Ahmad Black, the whole punt team and coaches. We all came together and made it happen. (It was) my first one in the pros, a long time coming. I love special teams and working with (Hayward). There’s nothing better.”
Watson drew a crowd in open locker room on Thursday the day the award was announced.
“Well most definitely it is an honor to get the award," Watson said. "I didn’t really think anything of it, I didn’t think I did anything to deserve it, but big ups to a lot of my teammates. Adam Hayward, E.J. Biggers, the special teams coaches, just everybody. It wasn’t just me."
Fellow special teamer Jacob Cutrera said Watson is being way too humble.
“It is a group effort but Dekoda is special player, he a rare talent,” Cutrera said. “He is a hybrid of an athlete. He can do it all. I always joke around with him because he thinks he can do everything and I believe it to. I always say there is no one Dekoda can’t out-athlete.
In addition to the blocked punt, Watson, a third-year player, had two tackles on kick coverage and also recovered a fumble by Carolina punt returner Captain Munnerlyn that set up a touchdown drive in Tampa Bay's 26-21 overtime win against the Panthers two weeks ago. The Buccaneers went 3-1 in the month of November to improve to 6-5 on the year thanks in part to Watson's stellar play on special teams in two of Tampa Bay's victories.
Watson talked more about the pride he takes on special teams.
“I love special teams. It s the one place I ca just run and use my ability. A lot of people ask me, 'why do (you) run so fast?' (I’m) scared to get hit (laughs). No it’s very fun out there and if all else fails and I don’t play linebacker anymore, then I have special teams to fall back on.”
Watson's NFC Special Teams Player of the Month honors were the first by a Buccaneers players since Clifton Smith won the award in November of 2008.
Fellow Bucs linebacker Lavonte David won the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year award for the month of November, which marked the first time in franchise history that a Tampa Bay rookie has won that honor.– Mark Cook contributed to this report
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