Trueblood Steps Up, Handles Own
Bruce Gradkowski wasn't the only Bucs rookie making his first pro start Sunday at the Superdome. Jeremy Trueblood, a second-round pick out of Boston College, went the distance at right tackle and helped winless Tampa Bay roll up 406 yards against New Orleans in a 24-21 setback.

Trueblood was elevated to a starting job a week ago when Kenyatta Walker underwent season-ending knee surgery. Facing a quality left end in Charles Grant, Trueblood played a key role as the Bucs ran for 187 yards against the league's eighth-ranked defense. "Jeremy Trueblood stepped up today against a great defensive end," Coach Jon Gruden said. "I thought he handled his own."

The 6-foot-8 lineman paid for his one mistake in pass protection as Grant looped around him midway through the third quarter and forced a Gradkowski fumble at the Bucs 25, setting up a New Orleans touchdown.

"I wasn't nervous, but I was really excited," said Trueblood, who played sparingly in the previous two games. "I think I played all right, but I wish we could have won. I'm willing to take the blame on the fumble and that was a pivotal play, but we've got a bunch of fighters on this team and we'll get this thing turned around."

Ira Kaufman, The Tampa Tribune 9 October 2006