By ROGER MILLS, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published October 27, 2002
Stecker shakes up Bucs running game
The Bucs offensive line has been working toward continuity, and now comes a slightly new challenge: With backup running back Aaron Stecker expected to see touches today in Carolina, the line will have to deal with a different style of running.
"Michael (Pittman) is a hard-nosed runner and Aaron is more like a Warrick Dunn, maybe a little harder and a lot stronger than Warrick," right tackle Kenyatta Walker said. "He's a screen guy, a shifty guy."
With the exception of an 186-yard effort against the Browns, the running game has struggled. The Bucs are hoping Stecker will provide a spark. But, Walker said, it still comes down to what happens at the line of scrimmage.
"Truth is, I don't know who's back there," Walker said. "The biggest thing is us up front doing our job. I really feel it has nothing to do with who we face or what we're doing. These coaches are going to have it schemed enough that we're in the right positin to win. We just have to go out and do our thing."
-- If much of last week's game in Philadelphia was a defensive standoff, imagine what today's game against the Panthers could be like. In three-and-outs (drives in which a team does not gain a first down) the Bucs are second in the league with 35.
Carolina is first with 39.
Stop the press, please
If it were up to him, Bucs defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin would not have let anyone know that he received a contract extension, much less discussed the details of it. The Bucs extended Kiffin's deal through the 2004 season a week ago after the Bucs defense climbed to the No. 1 ranking in the NFL.
"I know, I know, I don't like to talk about that stuff and I wished that hadn't come out," Kiffin said after Sunday's loss. "Now, they're going to say, "We should not have given him a new contract.' I promise you I wasn't thinking about my contract. I really couldn't care less about that."
When last they met
Receiver Karl Williams caught a 29-yard touchdown pass from Trent Dilfer for the Bucs' second score in the fourth quarter in a 16-13 come-from-behind home win on Oct. 18, 1998. After Bucs kicker Michael Husted missed the extra point, the Panthers marched 54 yards to set up a game-tying 47-yard field goal attempt with 89 seconds left. The kick sailed wide right.
6: return TDs for Bucs this season (4 INTs, 1 fumble, 1 punt return), one shy of franchise record set in 2000.
51: consecutive games Bucs have had at least one sack, the longest current streak in NFL.
512: receptions Keyshawn Johnson has through his first 100 games, third all-time behind Sterling Sharpe (524) and Lionel Taylor (516).
574: catches Marvin Harrison has in first 98 games.
The Last Word
"Well, if they've got time to sit around and listen to the criticism, then, by God, they have time to get in here and study one more end zone count. We deserve to be criticized when we lose, sometimes you get criticized when you win. Tiger Woods, I've seen him bogey the sixth and seventh holes and come back strong. You've got to play 18 holes." -- coach Jon Gruden on whether his team is concerned about criticism after the loss to Philadelphia.
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