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High profile: Cosey Coleman

By JACK SHEPPARD, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 23, 2003


THE MAN

In only his third year out of the University of Tennessee, where he started all 13 games during the 1998 national championship season, Coleman has become a solid member of the offensive line, starting 15 games this season (missing only the regular-season opener against New Orleans after a knee injury during warmups for the preseason opener against Miami).

WHAT PAIN?

Coleman put a scare into the Bucs during Sunday's NFC Championship Game, needing a golf cart to carry him to the locker room with a slightly sprained right knee during the first half (after receiving see-you-next-year congratulations from opposing players). But Coleman returned in the second half and helped anchor a line that didn't give up a sack on quarterback Brad Johnson against one of the best pass rushes in the NFL.

COMES ON STRONG

Coleman entered the season as one of only two offensive linemen returning at the same position from a year ago (with center Jeff Christy). But his preseason knee injury, Jon Gruden's new offense and the arrival of new line coach Bill Muir slowed his progress. By midseason, though, Coleman and tackle Kenyatta Walker had developed into a solid tandem that has protected Johnson well down the stretch.

PROUD OF POSITION

"No question we do get slighted (as an offensive line), but the bottom line is we're here," Coleman said Wednesday. "Regardless of what the numbers have said, we've found a way. What are we, 14-4 now? The teams like Miami with Ricky Williams gaining (big) yards and Kansas City with Priest Holmes, where are they at? Would they take 700 yards off their final tally, off their total, to be here in the Super Bowl? I think they would."

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