One of the main reasons why Tampa Bay’s defense is ranked in the top 10 again for the first time since 2005 is because of the play of middle linebacker Barrett Ruud.

The Bucs aren’t the only ones taking notice of the job Ruud has done in place of retired MLB Shelton Quarles. That was made clear Wednesday when Ruud was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Month for September.

Ruud, a 2005 second-round draft pick out of Nebraska, has recorded a league-leading 51 tackles, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, two passes defensed and one interception en route to helping the Bucs defense hold their last three opponents to a total of 24 points.

"That's good. We are proud of Barrett, he's had a good start to the season and he's one of the reasons why we have picked up here defensively,” Bucs head coach Jon Gruden said in reaction to Ruud winning the award. “He's playing very well and so are a lot of other guys on the football team."

This marks the seventh time in franchise history that a Buccaneer has been named NFC Defensive Player of the Month. Ruud earned NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors in Week 2 after he posted a career-high 16 tackles, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery en route to Tampa Bay’s 34-14 win over New Orleans.

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