Defensive tackle Chris Hovan picked the right place to revive his floundering NFL career. He needs the coaching that can get his game back on track in Tampa Bay, and the Bucs have a need for defensive tackles.
After five years in Minnesota, the former first-round draft pick out of Boston College fell out of favor with the Vikings and was released this offseason. Hovan, a former starter who was relegated to backup duty over the past two seasons, is excited about moving on and being a Buccaneer.
"It was a situation that just turned sour in the end," Hovan said after racking up 188 tackles and 17 sacks in his five seasons in Minnesota. "We moved our separate ways. I'm just thankful I'm down here playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers."
After sitting out on the free agent market for a few weeks, Hovan was not only glad to finally have a team interested in signing him, but he was happy that it was the right team in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"It's a great opportunity," Hovan said. "I thank the Buccaneers organization and staff for giving me the chance to come down here and prove myself again working under the best defensive line coach in the league (in Rod Marinelli) and Monte Kiffin and Jon Gruden.
"It was the right fit and I had to make sure I had to be in the right position to be coached the best I could be. That's the situation I'm in and I want to take advantage of it. I don't care what anybody has said about me in the past or what I've done. I've got to prove myself all over again."
Hovan hopes to revive his career under the tutelage of Marinelli, who has helped mold defensive tackle Warren Sapp into a Hall of Famer, coached defensive end Simeon Rice to the next level and resurrected the career of former journeyman defensive end Greg Spires.
"This scheme fits what I can bring to the team," Hovan said. "Working under Rod Marinelli - I can't say enough about the guy. He's going to make me play my optimum best."
While the tattooed, 6-foot-2, 296-pounder has played the three technique under tackle spot in Minnesota, he will strictly play at nose tackle in Tampa Bay and compete with Damien Gregory for right to replace Chartric Darby, who moved on to Seattle in free agency.
"He's a nose tackle all the way," Kiffin said. "He's played three-technique with the Vikings, but we were straight with him when we brought him here. We said you are coming here to be a one (technique player) because we lost Darby. We have Gregory, but he won't be ready until July. We needed to get somebody in here.
"All I can go by is that he had a really good workout when he came down here last week," Kiffin said. "We really liked the way he interviewed. He seemed sincere. I had coached with the Vikings and talked to some people and the thing that caught my attention was that he loves football. What went on before is really none of my business. I know he loves football and he works extremely hard and he's very hungry right now. I think he's excited about being here. I'm glad he's here."
Hovan is a high-motor defensive tackle who has some talent, but gets by more with his relentless playing style and unbridled energy.
"I'm kind of mild-mannered off the field, but on the field I'm kind of crazy," Hovan said.
Just how crazy?
"You'll see on game day," Hovan said."
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