Defense feels pressure to rush Warner
By RICK STROUD, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 22, 2002
TAMPA -- Give any NFL quarterback time to throw and he will pick you apart. Let the Rams' Kurt Warner get comfortable in the pocket and he will bury you.
The Bucs, who have just two sacks in as many games from their starting defensive line, will have to generate a heavy pass rush Monday night, something that was lacking in the season-opening loss to New Orleans.
"We've got to get pressure, that's the key to our success here on defense," said coach Jon Gruden. "One of the big keys, that's for sure. If you don't put pressure on the other team's quarterback, good luck. These guys are too good, way too good, if you don't get pressure."
MONDAY NIGHT MADNESS: Gruden always has been a football junkie. As a child he would sneak out of bed to catch the second half of Monday Night Football.
"I can remember for years and years, we had to go to bed at halftime," Gruden said. "I remember parking on the little stairwell, peeking around the corner. There's nothing like the NFL and there's nothing like Monday Night Football. It's a playoff atmosphere before the playoff games start happening. It's the only game going and very, very exciting. I have great memories of it, not only as a kid but as a coach. ... I got caught with my hand in the cookie jar every now and then.
"I liked Howard (Cosell). I still imitate him a little bit with the guys. I liked Alex Karros. Dandy Don (Meredith), (Frank) Gifford -- I liked the whole crew. They were great for the game, I think."
HIT AND RUN: The blueprint for beating the Rams is to allow their receivers to catch the ball underneath and punish them physically when they do. That's why the Bucs-Rams series is full of highlight hits from players like Derrick Brooks, John Lynch and Warren Sapp.
"Listen, if you're going to play his game, this is a contact sport," Sapp said. "We're going to try and bring our hat to it. That's not an easy feeling when 11 guys are hitting you or you catch one of those shots. It just makes it a little more uncomfortable when you turn around and run that ball."
STAY OFF THE FIELD: Gruden was asked how he would've responded to an attack similar to the one on Royals first-base coach Tom Gamboa on Thursday night in Chicago.
"I have no idea (how I would've reacted)," Gruden said. "I can't say I have ever seen anything like it. I hope I never do.
"I try not to bring up or stir up some of the questionable things in my past, but I really don't remember a lot of brawling or any such activities. There's no place for that in the game. I haven't been a part of it, nor do I want to be."
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