Tampa Bay’s search for depth and competition at the middle linebacker position carried over to the practice field at One Buccaneer Place on Thursday afternoon when the Buccaneers worked out former Philadelphia Eagles LB Jeremiah Trotter and former Tampa Bay and Dallas Cowboys LB Alshermond Singleton.
The 6-foot-1, 262-pound Trotter, 30, was released by the Eagles on Tuesday. A four-time Pro Bowler, Trotter recorded 940 tackles, nine interceptions, 12.5 sacks and nine forced fumbles during his tenure with the Eagles.
Season-ending injuries sustained by linebackers Antoine Cash and Sam Olajubutu in last Saturday’s preseason contest in Jacksonville have prompted the Bucs to actively search for linebackers.
Singleton, 32, originally entered the NFL with the Bucs in 1997. He spent five seasons (1997-02) with the Bucs before signing with the Dallas Cowboys as a free agent during the 2003 offseason, which came just a few months after he helped the Bucs win Super Bowl XXXVII.
Singleton (6-2, 250) played strongside linebacker for both the Buccaneers and the Cowboys. He has played in 140 career contests.
Both players worked out in front of head coach Jon Gruden, general manager Bruce Allen, defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, director of pro personnel Mark Dominik and several other members of the front office immediately after Tampa Bay’s afternoon practice concluded.
Gruden suggested Tampa Bay was doing its due diligence on Trotter and Singleton, both of whom have accomplished quite a bit during their NFL careers.
“We have competed against [Trotter] for years and there’s no question that he’s a very physical linebacker and I have a lot of respect for the man himself,” Gruden said. “He’s a team guy, Al Singleton helped us win a Super Bowl championship. So other than that we are going to keep our thoughts private and move on accordingly.”
Gruden reiterated after practice that the Bucs are not looking to bring in a starting middle linebacker. That job still belongs to Barrett Ruud, a 2005 second-round draft pick out of Nebraska.
“Barrett is our Mike linebacker and once again we’ve had some injuries and we want to get better,” Gruden said. “We want to win, we want to get better and if there are players out there that can help us to do that then we will do that.
“Barrett is doing great, he’s really doing well. He’s a guy who has been waiting in the wings behind one of our best players and he’s learned a lot. Not only how to play the game, but how to prepare for the games and a rigorous season. He’s fast, he’s instinctive and he’s going to be tough as hell for us. He’s inserted himself in his own way as a leader, which is something that he’s got to do.”
Ruud, who is entering his first year as a starter after replacing Shelton Quarles, will welcome the competition if the Bucs do in fact decide to add either Trotter or Singleton.
“Competition is always good,” said Ruud. “They’re good players. These types of players can help your team.”
According to Bucs quarterback Jeff Garcia, who played with Trotter in Philadelphia during the 2006 season, Trotter would be a good addition to Tampa Bay’s roster.
“He’s a leader, he’s intense and he’s great person in the locker room, much like [Bucs linebacker] Derrick Brooks,” Garcia said of Trotter. “He’s a hard worker and he’s very dedicated. He’s got a lot of energy and walks around with a scowl on his face in the sense that you know what you’re going to get out of him. You know what to expect from him and he expects that out of you. I think he’s a great guy to have in the locker room and a great guy to have out on the football field.”
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