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High Profile -- Mike Alstott

By ROGER MILLS, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published November 3, 2002


The Bucs running game has not yet found it's grove but if history has means anything, Tampa Bay may want to hand things over to Mike Alstott. To say that Alstott enjoys running the ball against the Vikings, particularly in Tampa, is like saying it gets hot here in the summer.In the last four home games against the Vikings, Alstott has 408 yards on 80 carries (5.1 avg) and has scored four touchdowns. "We know he's had some success against them, and we would like to get him the ball again," running back coach Kirby Wilson said.


When head coach Jon Gruden came on board, the Bucs made a hard push to re-tool the offense by bringing in a slew of free agents. The list included the likes of Michael Pittman, Kerry Jenkins, Ken Dilger, Joe Jurevicius and, eventually, Keenan McCardell. In order to do that, Alstott was forced to take a pay cut or find himself released. He opted for the pay cut. On April 20, Alstott signed a new four-year, $8 million extension that included a $2.5 million signing bonus.


So far, you can count the Bucs' productive running days this season on one hand. Better yet, on one finger. It came in a 17-3 win over the Cleveland Browns, when Alstott rushed for 126 yards on 17 carries. In fact, 121 yards came in the second half and 83 of those came in the fourth quarter. The Bucs finished that day with 186 yards on the ground. It was the only the second time this season they have rushed for over 100 yards.


Not like the Vikings or the Bucs need special reminders of Alstott's performance against Minnesota last October in Tampa, but some in the Viking locker room, like coach Mike Tice, have taken it personally. The word is the Vikings are prepared to let anybody but Alstott beat them today. "I talked to Mike and he said the last two games (Alstott) has had 200 or 150 yards. The good thing is, that's recent history. It's not a long tradition... Every game is a new game and every season you've got new teams and this is a new team on defense and hopefully we'll stop their running game."

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