Bucs' patched-up O-line excellent Sunday
The flexibility and depth of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are best exemplified by the moving parts along the offensive line.
Despite the absence of injured Pro Bowl guards Carl Nicks and Davin Joseph, Tampa Bay rolled up 515 yards of offense in Sunday's 42-32 victory against the Raiders. The patchwork unit opened holes for rookie running back Doug Martin, who set a franchise record with 251 rushing yards.
A season-ending toe injury to Nicks, a high-priced free-agent acquisition who was put on injured reserve on Tuesday, prompted the Bucs to switch Jeremy Zuttah from center to guard and install Ted Larsen at center on Sunday.
A few weeks ago, Demar Dotson replaced Jeremy Trueblood at right tackle. Only Pro Bowl left tackle Donald Penn has started all eight games at the same position.
"The coaches felt this was the best combination for us to win this game,'' said Zuttah, who lined up across from Richard Seymour and held Oakland's standout lineman without a tackle. "Ted played well and he's going to get better at center as we go along.''
Josh Freeman was sacked only once and had plenty of time in the pocket to find Vincent Jackson on a 64-yard reception, continuing the season-long trend of connecting on deep pass plays.
"We've got great schemes and great players on our side of the ball,'' said Larsen, who opened the season as the starting right guard before losing his job to Jamon Meredith after four games. "Doug's an amazing back. He runs so hard out there, he makes our job easier.''
|About the writer|
Ira Kaufman has long been both a great writer for The Tampa Tribune and friend to the Bucs UK and BUCPOWER.COM. He writes on all sports for the paper but during the NFL season offers his stories on not just the Buccaneers, but also the NFL in general.