Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Shelton Quarles was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week on Wednesday.
The Bucs defense held the Buffalo Bills offense to just 147 yards en route to a 19-3 win last Sunday, but Quarles, who notched a team-leading 10 tackles and recorded the sack on quarterback J.P. Losman that resulted in a safety in the second quarter, was recognized and rewarded for his impressive outing.
“This award is not just a tribute to myself, it’s for my teammates,” said Quarles. “If they weren’t doing their jobs I wouldn’t be able to do mine.”
The award marked the 26th time in franchise history that a Buccaneer has been named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week. While this is the first time he’s received NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors, Quarles was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week back in 1997.
“He had a great game, obviously,” Bucs head coach Jon Gruden said of Quarles. “He is our middle linebacker, he’s our signal-caller, he doesn’t come off the field, he plays on every down and he’s a sideline-to-sideline guy. He’s a really great player and he’s well-deserving of that honor.”
Tampa Bay used its second-round pick in April on LB Barrett Ruud, who had an impressive preseason and will eventually succeed the 34-year-old Quarles as the Bucs’ middle linebacker. But Quarles, who has recorded a team-leading 17 tackles, one sack and one forced fumble, doesn’t appear to be ready to hand that job over to Ruud just yet.
“(Former Bucs linebackers coach) Lovie Smith told me a long time ago that you can’t control what’s done outside, you can only control yourself, and that’s what I’ve been trying to do,” said Quarles, who is part of a Bucs defense that currently ranks No. 1 overall in the NFL. “I’ve been trying to play the best I can and do my job, and just let everything else handle itself. Whenever they feel like it’s time for a change, that’s when that time will be. I’m just going out and trying to put my best foot forward.”
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