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High profile -- John Howell

By ROGER MILLS, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published December 15, 2002


Being from Nebraska is not enough. Oh, no. John Howell, 24, is true small town, true cowboy and that includes chaps, saddles, hats and belts, horses and roping cattle. Growing up in Mullen, a town of 500, John Thomas Howell has ridden bulls and dragged down calves with his bare hands, a practice that no doubt helps him in dragging down an opponent who is trying to get away. "I tell you what, they're very similar and very difficult," said Howell, who was one of 23 members of his high school senior class. "They both will resist; they both don't want to be caught. They're both strong and fast and trying not to get caught."


Part of the reason why the Bucs made Howell (5-11, 204 pounds) their fourth-round selection from Colorado State in 2001 was his familiarity with the team's Cover 2 defensive philosophy. The Rams play a very similar system. In college, Howell had 233 career tackles, nine sacks and three interceptions. He started all 11 games as a senior and finished the season with 93 tackles, good enough to earn All-Mountain West Conference first-team honors. "It was definitely an advantage for me coming in here, since I was already familiar with a lot of the terminology," Howell said. "I knew it. It was up to me to fine-tune which gaps and which responsibilities that I had. And a lot of those were similar to Colorado State as well."


As a rookie, Howell immediately distinguished himself as a hard worker on special teams and played in 14 regular-season games and the playoff game in Philadelphia. More important, Howell did start one game, against the Steelers, and finished with a career-high 13 tackles. He had 26 tackles for the season. "The main thing that happened for me against Pittsburgh was that it gave me confidence to play at this level," he said. "Getting your first start as a rookie, you question some things, you start to wonder what you have to do to prove yourself. So, to be in the game, in front 70,000 people, and have 13 tackles and a relatively good game, gave me the confidence to know I could play with these guys.


Starting strong safety John Lynch practiced Friday and seemed eager to play today. Lynch is recovering from a neck strain against the Falcons and was upgraded to questionable on Friday. But should Lynch not play, Howell will get his second career start. "My mind-set is that I'm going to start, my mind-set is that I'm going to play the whole game," Howell said. "That's the way I prepared all week long and anything less would be unacceptable. I'm concerned about the guy because I look up to him. I want to play, but not at the expense of his health."

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Today's lineup

  • Zoned in
  • Chucky's Chalk Talk
  • Who to root for today, Bucs fans
  • All the talk that is not there
  • High profile -- John Howell
  • Side line
  • I appreciate every cent
  • Letters: Keyshawn's doing what needs doing
  • Gary Shelton: A vote for Brooks, but counting's not done

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  • Piniella is bold with statements
  • No more 'original' Rays remain

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  • Cullen glad to come back

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    College football
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  • Rally puts W. Kentucky in I-AA final vs. McNeese

  • College basketball
  • Gators end streak for Terps
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  • Salukis watch
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  • NFL
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  • NFL Game Day: Week 15

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