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Profiling Aaron Stecker

By ROGER MILLS, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 6, 2002


At 5-10, 205 pounds, the former Mr. Football in Wisconsin, has a beefy enough frame to take 15-20 carries but plays behind two other good backs. Call it bad timing or whatever, but although Stecker is listed as Warrick Dunn's backup, he must wait on Dunn and fullback Mike Alstott to get their share of carries, before he can be considered.

At 5-10, 205 pounds, the former Mr. Football in Wisconsin, has a beefy enough frame to take 15-20 carries but plays behind two other good backs. Call it bad timing or whatever, but although Stecker is listed as Warrick Dunn's backup, he must wait on Dunn and fullback Mike Alstott to get their share of carries, before he can be considered.

* * *

At the start of last season, Stecker, then in his first season, seemed a shoo-in to be the first Bucs player to return a kickoff for a touchdown. But Stecker lost the aggressive nature he displayed attacking coverages.

* * *

Stecker entered training camp battling with rookie cornerback Dwight Smith and second-year receiver Frank Murphy for the kickoff duties. After Smith and Murphy faltered, Stecker took over. Against New Orleans, he took the opening kickoff, broke a series of tackles and ran a team-record 86 yards before being tripped up at the 14-yard line. Then against the Ravens, he took the ball 3 yards deep into the end zone and scampered 32 yards before being upended. "I think I just got tired of being mediocre when it comes to returning the ball," he said.

* * *

Stecker's story isn't just about kickoff return ups and downs. Truth is, he's a pretty solid running back. Similar in style to mentor Warrick Dunn, Stecker runs hard (37 yards on 12 carries) and is versatile coming out of the backfield as a receiver (seven catches for 93 yards). His only touchdown of the season came on a 35-yard reception in a 41-14 win over the Vikings.

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