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Posts Tagged ‘barrett ruud’

REAR ENTRIES: White Guys On The Move

August 21, 2012 at 12:10am by Scott   •  11 Comments »

rearentry139

BUCS CLAIM SHIPLEY: The Bucs responded to the complete dearth of wide receiver receptions in the Titans game by claiming Jordan Shipley off waivers on Monday. Shipley is a receiver I thought would be a good addition as a rookie since he had attended the University of Texas for about 14 years and had a great track record there. Comparisons to Wes Welker were being thrown around mostly because he is white, but also because he’s really white.

Two seasons ago, Shipley had 52 receptions for 600 yards and three touchdowns with a long of 64 (two times). He spent most of last season on IR after tearing his ACL. If he can make a full recovery from that, he has the potential to be better than Sammie Stroughter or Preston Parker. The bad news is that he doesn’t play a lot of special teams, something both Stroughter and Parker do. Something else Shipley doesn’t do is fumble. Parker put the ball on the ground eight times last year. Shipley has a real chance to make the team but should have started growing his hair in 2004 if he wanted a chance to overtake Tiquan Underwood on the depth chart.

SAINTS TRADE FOR RUUD: Tonight the Saints traded an undisclosed draft pick to the Seahawks for Barrett Ruud. With Jonathan Vilma suspended for the season and Curtis Lofton out with an ankle injury, Ruud has a chance of getting some playing time early in the regular season. But the Bucs don’t play the Saints until October 21 and Lofton will be back by then, which is a shame because the Bucs’ running game really could have used the boost.

GRUDEN ON HBO: Jon Gruden will appear on Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel on HBO tomorrow night. Below is the preview for the episode. I really want to see it, but I don’t get HBO so I’m going to have to wait until about 30 minutes after it has aired to pull it off of a torrent site. What a pain in the ass. I mean, they’re charging us to watch Bryant Gumbel? Hell, a $2.00 credit should appear on your bill every time they air his voice. A $2.00 credit and a sincere apology. Fuck that guy.

REAR ENTRIES: Former Bucs

April 17, 2012 at 11:20am by Scott   •  8 Comments »

Rear Entry 120

RUUD REVIEW: Now that Barrett Ruud has moved to his third team in three years, Pat Yasinskas is ready to declare that Mark Dominik was right to let him walk away.

But it’s now looking like the Bucs clearly made the right decision on Ruud, who was solid with the Bucs, but never made a lot of big plays. He’ll turn 29 in May and it appears he’s on the downside of his career. Ruud is playing for the veteran minimum in Seattle.

From a dollars and salary cap angle, yes, it seems that Ruud thought he was worth more than anyone was willing to pay for him. But I don’t think anyone can argue that the Bucs were better off with Mason Foster in the middle than Ruud. It wouldn’t have saved the season, but maybe the rushing defense wouldn’t have been so pathetic. And Dominik took that money and gave it to Quincy Black anyway, so it’s not like it was put to good use or anything. They’d have been better off spending a few hundred dollars on ghost masks and trying to scare runners into falling down.

And yes, half the reason I posted this was for Meagan.
CHEERLEADERS ARE SMART: We talked last week about the whole cheerleader situation (and the Bucs evidently removed that video, so everyone be sure to thank them) and how some of our favorites are no longer on the team. Although I wouldn’t consider her a favorite, Sarah Nelson was a hot and bubbly and everything you want in a cheerleader. But she couldn’t commit the time to the team this year because she’s graduating graduate school and getting a job as family nurse practitioner specializing in high-risk pregnancies. Or, I should say, she specializes in treating women with high-risk pregnancies. The other way I said it would be very sad.

Belonging to the International Honor Society of Nurses and Sigma Beta Tau and boasting a 4.0 grade point average, Nelson has defined her life by more than cheerleading. She said her last B came as a freshman at the University of Florida.

And that B was because she refused to smoke weed in class, a requirement of UF freshmen. So good luck to Sarah and her new career. You are already sorely missed by Bucs fans.

HEAD COACH MIKE ALSTOTT: It’s not all that unusual for a former NFL player to take over a high school team as the head coach. A lot of them do it as the first step to a more lucrative career in coaching. But Mike Alstott taking over as head coach of Northside Christian School in St. Pete sounds like a football guy who really misses football and wants to help out some kids.

“I miss the game,” he said Wednesday after being introduced to a wildly enthusiastic crowd that included several hundred students, faculty and staff at the private school in Pinellas County.

The hugely popular former running back for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers accepted his first head coaching job Tuesday at a school with about 600 total students in grades K-12, including 260 in the high school.

“This just feels right,” he said about taking the position after about 10 days of talks with school officials. “They made me feel at home.”

This is not the football team you coach if you want to get noticed as a coach. This school has gone 14-27 in the last four years and doesn’t produce a bunch of Division 1 scholarships. We always knew Alstott loved the game; we could see it every week. It’s cool he’s able to get back on the field with the game he loves so much, even if he’s got a whistle around his neck this time.

Betrayal! Scandal! Ruuuuuuuuuuuuud!

August 03, 2011 at 09:31am by Scott   •  16 Comments »

If Barrett ever gets desperate for a blow job, he can always make the trip to Sarasota.

Since the lockout ended, sportswriters in Tampa Bay have been too busy reporting on camp and free agency signings and trades and rookies to worry about much of the trivial bullshit that they usually spend their time on. If the lockout was good for anything, it seemed to make beat writers more appreciative of their jobs, and they’ve been taking it more seriously lately. But no party can go on forever without some asshole taking their dick out and making everyone else in the room uncomfortable. Enter Tom Balog.

‘Rah’ betrays Ruud

That’s the title of his piece. Right away, the guy is a prick. Balog is the only reporter who refers to Raheem Morris as “Rah” in his articles. People may call him that in casual conversation, but Balog is the only one who puts it in print. Is he trying to brag that he knows Raheem well enough to refer to him that way? Because he doesn’t. I promise you.

And “betrays” is a big, weighty word. You don’t use it in everyday conversation. It sounds like scandal right away. Whatever happened, it’s sure to be very dramatic and highly controversial, right? Can you guess the answer?

There’s a cold hard lesson that every Buccaneer player needs to take from the departure of free agent middle linebacker Barrett Ruud, who was perhaps the player closest to Raheem Morris, this side of Ronde Barber, in his first two years as Tampa Bay’s head coach.

“Betrayal”? “Cold hard lesson”? Holy shit, did… did Raheem kill a member of Barrett’s family as an example to the rest of the team of what happens when you hold out of voluntary OTAs two years ago? Now that’s a fucking scoop! I can hardly wait.

”Barrett was more than just my ‘Mike’ backer, he was a close friend,” Morris said Sunday. “I wish him nothing but the best. I hope he goes on and proves us wrong and makes it happen. But it’s time to move on.”

Just like The Godfather. Oh shit, the hammer’s about to drop.

When Ruud’s contract expired after last season, and he desperately wanted to remain a Buccaneer, for the rest of his career, how much influence did Morris try to exert upon general manager Mark Dominik to keep around the player who had been Tampa Bay’s leading tackler for the past four seasons?

The answer: Not enough, if any at all.

Umm…

The translation for the rest of the Buccaneers: Despite however much Morris tries to be close to you now, someday, at contract time, he will not be there for you. He will disown you, just like he apparently did Ruud.

So that’s it? That’s the big betrayal? This scenario can be summed up in three words, and I’ll even repeat one of them: Business is business. Every single football player knows this. Ruud knows this. Does Balog think Morris has never had to say goodbye to a friend before? Anyone remember Derrick Brooks? Morris knew Brooks years longer than he knew Ruud. Brooks was a Buccaneer icon with an active contract, and Morris very unceremoniously released him for the good of the team. Someone ask Derrick if he feels betrayed by Morris as a friend. Isn’t Derrick on a daily radio show now? Someone call in and ask him. I guarantee you he doesn’t. Maybe by the team as a whole or the Glazers personally, but not by Raheem as a friend. No way. Brooks knows that the business of football and personal relationships are completely separate. Balog, evidently, doesn’t.

And who said Ruud “desperately” wanted to be a Buccaneer? If he was so desperate, he would have taken the minimum to stay in Tampa, and I’m sure the Bucs would have kept him for that price. What he desperately wanted was a long-term contract that he felt was commensurate with his skill level and experience. Maybe he would have preferred to stay in Tampa, but he certainly wasn’t desperate to.

As a head coach, Morris certainly was not there for Ruud. And if he was not there for Ruud, who is he going to be there for?

Oh my God, this guy is such a drama queen. Technically, Morris wasn’t Ruud’s head coach. Ruud was unemployed — a football player with an expired contract looking for work. That aside, is Raheem supposed to put personal feelings before the good of the team? Should he stock the team with all his best buddies regardless of their talent? If Raheem, the defensive coordinator, felt that Barrett Ruud was the best option for middle linebacker, he would have brought him back. It’s that simple. I thought Ruud was good enough to keep, but you know what? I’m an asshole in front of a keyboard who has never worked a day in the NFL, so who the fuck am I? And who the fuck is Balog? The coaches watch tape, evaluate players using their years of experience (of which reporters have none), and make personnel decisions they think will win them games regardless of how many times they’ve gone to dinner with them.

There is no excuse for Morris, if him and Dominik are really that close, for him not privately telling Dominik in the offseason, “‘Hey, look, man, we gotta keep Barrett for another year or two. He’s my guy.”

Now it gets silly. No excuse? This is Balog’s M.O. right here. He did the same thing with Michael Clayton. He gets really close to a player and then gets personally offended when that player gets released regardless of how it will affect the team. He’s championing players he has a personal, emotional stake in. That’s not being a reporter, that’s being an agent who works for free.

Because, look at what an embarrassment it is now for the Buccaneers, that the Tennessee Titans signed Ruud to a one-year contract.

You mean the Buccaneers couldn’t have done at least that much?

Ruud’s contract with the Titans is 1-year, $4-million. No, they couldn’t have done at least that much. And it’s in no way an embarrassment for the Bucs. Since when is allowing a player to walk away in free agency such a fucking crime?

Someone get Balog an internship with Rosenhaus Sports so he can practice the job he truly wants to have and stop subjecting the rest of us to his insecurities. Or at least get him some therapy. This dude was left alone in a department store one too many times. On purpose, no doubt.

Bucs Re-Sign Hayward

August 01, 2011 at 11:18am by Scott   •  3 Comments »

Career backup linebacker ain't so bad.
The Bucs announced today that they have re-signed Adam Hayward to a three-year deal.

Hayward, who was a sixth-round draft pick out of Portland State in 2007, has made most of his impact on special teams during his time with the Bucs. Over the last four seasons, Hayward is always near the top of the list when it comes to special teams tackles.

In 2010, the 26-year-old Hayward led the Bucs in special teams tackles with 20, and he also had a fumble recovery as well. Hayward has 58 career special teams tackles in his four-year career.

Hayward was the special teams captain last year, not to mention the team’s Man of the Year, so it’s a good move to bring back a good locker room guy with high character on a team full of rookies and second-year guys. I initially thought that they waited until Barrett Ruud was definitely not coming back to make this move and let Hayward compete for a starting spot, but the more I think about it, I don’t think Hayward is going to have much of a shot to start. Tyrone McKenzie and Mason Foster seem to be the main competition for MLB and Quincy Black‘s contract practically guarantees that he’ll be given the starting SLB spot, at least in the beginning. And Hayward doesn’t seem ideally suited for WLB, so I’m guessing he’ll be the special teams captain and a versatile backup again. Good signing.

Bye Bye Barrett

July 31, 2011 at 12:21pm by Scott   •  2 Comments »

Meagan Pravden
The Bucs won’t have Barrett Ruud to kick around anymore. He signed a one-year deal with the Titans yesterday.

“I found some mutual interest, which was good,” Ruud told The Tennessean. “I am really excited it worked out this way. I plan to come in and learn (defensive coordinator) Jerry Gray‘s system and just roll with it.”

The Titans lost Stephen Tulloch to the Lions this offseason and Will Witherspoon isn’t getting any younger, so he’s got a good chance to start in Tennessee. There’s a decent interview with Joe Baker from Tom Balog (no, really) where Baker liberally heaps praise on Ruud.

”He’s a football genius,” Baker said, referring to Ruud’s ability to make pre-snap reads and call defensive alignments accordingly, to make sure everybody around him was lined up properly before every snap.

”Because Barrett’s a helluva player, in a lot of ways an underappreciated player,” Baker said. “He was unquestionably the leader of our defense. He makes a lot of plays because of his intelligence. There are some things maybe some linebackers do better,but there’s a lot of things that Barrett is the best in the league at.

”Like knowing what’s coming on offense, being the first guy to know what the play is and being in the right spot _ and that’s something that’s very difficult to coach.”

So, yeah, the Bucs gave up a football genius. I wish they would have re-signed him, but I understand that the relationship was pretty well fractured beyond repair, so if he can hook on with my second-favorite team, I can live with that. And that’s what really matters.

Good luck to Barrett. I was going to post a cool picture of Barrett for this entry as a goodbye to him, but then this picture of Meagan Pravden came across Twitter and seemed like a much more fitting tribute. (By the way, Bucs, the cheerleader section of the web site still isn’t updated. Seriously? You couldn’t find the time during that interminable lockout? Five months and nothing? Move your asses! We’re starving out here!)

Bucs Twitter Explosion

July 28, 2011 at 11:55am by Scott   •  3 Comments »

I had a Donald Penn joke for this image, but he's in better shape than I thought.
Twitter is blowing up with Bucs-related nuggets today now that camp has started and the press is shaking down the players for information. They’re coming too fast to post a separate entry for each of them, so I’ll shoot them at you rapid fire:

@DavinJoseph75: I’m going to bed but no deal yet. I’m ready for a long term deal.

@DavinJoseph75: My guy @jeremyTRUEblood is ready to stay. That means I’m ready to stay.

Davin Joseph sounds like he would prefer to stay with the Bucs, although nothing substantive has happened yet. For all the reports about Joseph being the priority among Buccaneer free agents, Quincy Black got his done a whole lot sooner. Maybe because it’s less money? Or are the Bucs willing to ride with Derek Hardman?

@TBBuccaneers: It’s reporting day here at One Buc. Players have most of the morning & afternoon to check in. WR Mike Williams was 1 of the first ones here.

Joke for Florio: Did he get there so early because he quit on Syracuse? There. Now he can go home and leave the lame jokes to Slow Joe.

@TBO_Buccaneers: Roy: word here at One Buc Place is that rookie DE Da’Quan Bowers has been given Stylez White‘s old number.

Wow. We knew White was going to have a tough time making the roster, but I guess this seals it. The Bucs wouldn’t have let Bowers take that number if there was any reasonable chance of them re-signing him. Is Ronde Barber now the only player over 30?

@TBBuccaneers: LB Mason Foster says the key for him in camp is all-out effort. If he makes a mistake, he says, he’s going to make it at 100 miles per hour.

Oh, he will. Rookies make mistakes. Foster has seemed gung ho since he was drafted. And with Barrett Ruud seemingly gone, word is that the MLB job is his to lose. I still haven’t heard anything on Adam Hayward‘s contract status, but I do know that the Rams are poking around him.

@TBO_Buccaneers: Roy: DT Gerald McCoy on the reduction of padded practices: “I just added four years to my career.”

Maybe, but will you be as good during the prime of your career without padded practices? Which is more preferable, ten years of being elite or fourteen years of being pretty good?

@HolderStephen: Bucs reporting day underway. Here’s Donald Penn looking “svelte” — for him anyway. Worked hard this offseason

I don’t notice a lot of difference, but I do know it would have been easy for him to get fat during the lockout, so congrats to him for using his time wisely.

@TBBuccaneers: DT Gerald McCoy was on a mission to get in better shape in the offseason. He finished ’10 at 310 lbs & 22% body fat; now he’s at 296 & 16%.

McCoy looked like an entirely different player at Camp Freeman. Leaner, stronger, and there weren’t a lot of pictures of him smiling. He’s all business now.

@TBO_Buccaneers: Anwar: Seems like Freeman had dinner with Davin, Trueblood and #Bucs front office at 717 last night

Mark Dominik and Raheem Morris brought Josh Freeman along for a dinner with Joseph and Trueblood. If you ever doubted that this team completely revolves around Freeman, now you can stop. When Freeman’s contract comes due, it’s going to be interesting to see how/if he leverages this total dependance into cash.

@TBO_Buccaneers: Roy: TE Kellen Winslow on Barrett Ruud. “I’d really hate to see a guy like Barrett leave. He’s a core guy in that locker room.”

Winslow’s vote of confidence is not to be taken lightly. If he doesn’t mean it, he won’t say it.

There’s more, but those are the most interesting ones. And they’re all from the last hour or so, so everyone is really making up for lost time. I should have more later.

(Ruud Won’t Be Back)

July 27, 2011 at 01:58pm by Scott   •  4 Comments »

Because he's not physical, you see.
While we’re waiting for the Bucs to announce the signings of some more undrafted free agents, we’ll take a quick look at what Mark Dominik had to say about Barrett Ruud yesterday. Welcome to Bucstats: Yesterday’s news, but with today’s sarcasm!

Though he didn’t come right out and say it, Dominik strongly indicated the Bucs have decided to move on from Ruud, a six-year veteran unrestricted free agent who led the team in tackles each of the past four years.

“We have done things over the last couple of months and certainly in the draft this year that will certainly help us move on (from the players we don’t plan to bring back for this coming season),” Dominik said.

Those parenthesis always bug me because the writer is guessing context and inserting it where he thinks it should go. How does Roy Cummings know Dominik meant the Bucs were moving on from Ruud and not, say, just move on to this season and more success? Lots of GMs and coaches are talking about moving on with the business of football and away from the lockout. Writers should just make an open parenthesis the first character in a story and end it with a close parenthesis. Then they can just write whatever they want.

“I have high expectations for Mason Foster and what he’ll be for this football team,” Dominik said. “And I think that Tyrone McKenzie learned a lot at the (middle) linebacker position (as a rookie last year).

Despite making up half his story and shoving it in parenthesis, Roy is probably right. Dominik has consistently been hesitant to talk about Ruud’s status with the team, and now that everyone can negotiate with everyone else, he’s not changing that strategy. You’d think if Dominik was interested in bringing him back, he’d say something about talking to his agent or trying to work a deal out. Instead of this:

Dominik, when asked about discussions he has had with Ruud or his agent, turned the focus toward Foster.

“I would say an important element that I just talked about for us long term is that we got Mason Foster signed to a four-year contract. I would take that as, obviously your (middle) linebacker, a young guy that you drafted, is here and trying to learn this system as fast as possible. And any kind of discussion I’ve had with Barrett or his agent I would leave out of the picture right now.”

So all that shit I said about Ruud getting one more year in Tampa because the lockout set all the young kids back in their development… yeah, forget all that. Ruud is in a different uniform this season.

The Bucs Won’t Have A Problem Spending Money

July 20, 2011 at 09:37am by Scott   •  No Comments »

Davin Joseph is going to get paid.
Between last night’s tweets by Jason La Canfora and Stephen Holder, it seems as though we’ve gone from worrying about whether or not there will be football at all to worrying about how much money the Bucs need to spend.

La Canfora:

Internal projections by cap guys I spoke to estimate the Cards, Bengals, Bucs and Chiefs will have to spend very big to get to 90% of cap

Holder 1:

Now that we have more info, if the 90% cash toward cap stipulation and $120M salary cap hold, #Bucs need to spend $108M this yr. Just FYI

Holder 2:

Re: Bucs/salary cap, most of you know this but #Bucs were in the $80M range in cash spent last yr

So as you can see, part of the new salary cap rules is that the new floor has been set at 90% of the cap, which is a hell of a lot higher than it was in the last capped season. The Bucs currently have $64.4-million committed to 2011. Some quick math tells us that the Bucs will need to spend $43.6-million in order to be in compliance with the salary floor. And there are rumors going around that this has to be actual money and not dead cap space, at least most of it. But they still aren’t going to have to spend a ton on non-Buc free agents.

Davin Joseph is probably going to get $20-million or so in a signing bonus and first-year salary, so almost half of the amount they need is eaten up by one dude. If they decide Barrett Ruud is still the answer at MLB, he’s going to get a big chunk, too. Probably, what, $13-million in first-year money? Add in the rookies and the other free agents the Bucs want to retain and they should be able to eat through that $43.6-million pretty easily.

The key here is Ruud because if he leaves, that $13-million will likely go to outside free agents. And there will be a ton of them. There’s no point in trying to predict which ones they go for. We’ll all throw out a bunch of names and then they’ll announce that they signed some dude none of us have ever heard of. Be honest, how many of you knew who Sean Jones was before he was a Buc? The point is that even though the Bucs are at the top of the list of teams who need to spend, it’s not going to be a situation where they’re just throwing money at whoever will take it. I would guess there won’t be more than one or two players signed off the street that weren’t Bucs last year.

Nick Barnett Is Not Coming To Tampa

July 12, 2011 at 10:18am by Scott   •  4 Comments »

Staying in green and yellow.
We’ve gotten to the point of the lockout where we’re speculating on speculation. Pat Yasinskas wrote a column wondering where Nick Barnett would go if the Packers decide to release him. He floats the idea of him going to the Bucs if Barrett Ruud decides not to stay in Tampa. Sounds like a slam dunk already.

Barnett was a second-team All-Pro selection in 2007 and had some very good seasons with the Packers. He could provide some instant stability and leadership for a Tampa Bay defense that’s still looking to catch up to its offense.

I don’t see this. The Bucs are not shy about plugging young and inexperienced guys into the lineup and making them sink or swim. I’ve got a lot of faith in this team, but they’re not in the cusp of a Super Bowl, so it’s not like they have to plug an experienced vet into a vacancy so they can keep their championship hopes alive. They have options in the middle and don’t need to give up a draft pick if they don’t want to.

The rumors have Mason Foster taking over the MLB spot if Ruud bolts. And everything I’ve read from Foster says he’s willing to do that, but he doesn’t seem to think it’s his best position. No one does. It’s almost unanimous that he is best suited for the weakside spot, but Geno Hayes is the one starting linebacker who is almost guaranteed to still be on the team in 2011. So if Ruud does leave, do the Bucs plug Foster into a spot he may not be suited for, or do they let Adam Hayward finally step up into a starting role? Hayward is also a free agent, but he won’t be nearly as hard to keep as Ruud. They also have Tyrone McKenzie, who the coaches are said to love. McKenzie was a key player in organizing Camp Freeman, and that’s the kind of leadership you look for in a middle linebacker charged with running the defense.

I think the big decision will be whether the Bucs need to keep Ruud with a shortened offseason or if they have enough faith in Hayward, Foster or McKenzie to step in and learn on the job. Nick Barnett doesn’t figure into this at all. He’s a good player, but it’s not the Bucs’ style to grab a 30-year old linebacker when they already have options that they like.

REAR ENTRIES: Minicamp Wrapup

July 01, 2011 at 10:35am by Scott   •  3 Comments »

Rear Entry 78

CAMP FREEMAN: DAY 3: Camp Freeman concluded with one practice on Thursday although I couldn’t find a single report about what they actually did. Whatever it was, all the attendees walked away satisfied that they got what they needed out of the minicamp. Many of them commented on how impressed they were with the turnout.

“It’s impressive,” offensive tackle Jerermy Trueblood said. “I remember the first e-mail. My first thought was, ‘How many guys are going to show up?’ But when I saw the list and how many people were on there, and how many people responded, I kind of knew before we got here there was going to be a lot of people. But I didn’t know there would be over 50 guys. That shows that we’re dedicated to winning.”

Thus ends the first Camp Freeman. If the lockout continues into when training camp should start, they have already talked about getting together again. Hell, if the league starts losing regular season games, I’m guessing Freeman will call the teams on their schedule and just organize the games himself. It may be in a public park or a high school field, but the Bucs will open up the season against the Lions one way or another.

RUUD STILL WANTS TO HELP: Barrett Ruud will be a free agent once the CBA is finally settled and the league year starts. He wasn’t at Camp Freeman and nobody has heard much from him since the season ended, which was kind of expected since most people believe he’ll be on another team. But even still, he was willing to help out one of the guys who’s looking to take his job, Tyrone McKenzie.

McKenzie went so far as to call Ruud and ask that the two sit down and study film together to solidify McKenzie’s grasp of the defense. When McKenzie learned Ruud had left Tampa for a while, he hopped on a flight to Nebraska, where Ruud graciously extended a helping hand.

“I flew up to Omaha, and (Ruud) drove from Lincoln,” McKenzie said. “Me and him met in the lobby (of a hotel) and went over tape. That shows what kind of class he has and what kind of leadership he has.”

I think this says a ton about both guys. Veterans who have a lock on their job in the upcoming year are always willing to help out the new guy because there’s no real threat. In this case, though, the better McKenzie performs, the less likely the Bucs are to offer Ruud huge money to stay. That’s incredibly classy of Barrett. And look at the drive McKenzie has to get better. When Barrett left town, he flew to Nebraska to get with him. McKenzie was also instrumental in organizing Camp Freeman. This is a guy who really wants a job on the Bucs. If leadership is one of the main traits of a middle linebacker, McKenzie seems to have that covered.

In other news, Nebraska has an airport. Who knew?

TALIB TRIAL DATE SET: I guess there’s a backlog of trials in Texas (cattle rustlin’ and cheating at faro and so on) because Aqib Talib‘s trial in Dallas has been scheduled for March 26, 2012.

Talib’s attorney Frank Perez said he does not expect the case to affect Talib’s football career.

“There is a presumption of innocence,” he said. “It should not affect him at all.”

Everyone knows the presumption of innocence doesn’t matter to Roger Goodell — it’s all about how you represent the shield. Once the lockout is over, I would expect Goodell to suspend Talib based on his history. Maybe three games. But I no longer expect the Bucs to release him outright. The lockout gives experienced vets some leverage with their jobs since the young kids haven’t had time to get their practice reps in. Also, the team as a whole was resoundingly supportive of Talib at the minicamp this week. Guys went out of their way to say how great a teammate he is and what a good guy he is. That’s going to mean something to Raheem Morris and the front office who understand team chemistry and don’t want to disrupt what they’re building in the locker room. How many players took up for Sabby Piscitelli, who has never been arrested, when he was about to get cut? Agree or not, how you play is more important to the team than what you do off the field, and Talib is a great player.

With the possibility of a conviction off the table for this season, there’s much less motivation to cut ties with Talib right away. The Bucs will talk about how they support Talib and will let the legal process run its course before they address the possibility of releasing him.