tampabay.com

Red zone

By JOANNE KORTH
Published November 28, 2004


SIMEON SAYS

Because no one says it quite like Bucs defensive end Simeon Rice.

"This is what it comes down to. You have to speak the truth, and the truth is, it is a game-to-game situation."

- on Tampa Bay winning the rest of its games.

ACHES AND PAINS

Defensive end Greg Spires sat at his locker Wednesday, a latex glove on one hand and a jar of sinus-clearing balm in the other. He rubbed the yellowish gel into his knees to loosen them up.

Welcome to the NFL, Week 12.

Spires had both ankles taped. Both big toes, too. He had a compression wrap on his right elbow, which was sore from all the hitting that goes on in NFL trenches.

And Spires is relatively healthy. In fact, he feels pretty spry compared with training camp, when his laundry list of injuries included a torn left biceps, a strained hamstring, a quads contusion and plantar fasciitis. What, no hang nail?

"Fortunately, no," he said.

SMALL WORLD

Bucs tackle Todd Steussie played for the Panthers from 2001-03 and was a starter on the offensive line when Carolina went to the Super Bowl last season. Though Steussie no longer starts for the Bucs, he saw action against the 49ers as a tight end in the jumbo formation. Don't be surprised to see him run a pass route against his former teammates, perhaps into the end zone.

TURN AROUND

Ten games into the season, the Bucs have shown marked improvement in several categories.

Sacks

First five games: 6

Past five games: 20

Touchdowns

First five games: 6

Past five games: 17

Rushing touchdowns

First five games: 0

Past five games: 7

Rushing yards

First five games: 405

Past five games: 550

Total points

First five games: 69

Past five games: 123

MISUNDERSTOOD

Pity the offensive linemen, they get no love. They're not flashy. They're not stylish. They're rarely around the ball. Their time in the spotlight is limited.

"We don't really get a lot of publicity unless we do something wrong or it's something negative," said right tackle Kenyatta Walker, who has had his share of bad publicity. "That's just how it is. Offensive lineman is not a glorified job, but your teammates know what you're doing."

Maybe it's the stereotype holding them back: big, slow, not real bright.

"I thought that was D linemen," Walker said.

But seriously folks ... the stereotype doesn't fit. Offensive linemen have to be quick despite their 300-pound frames and smart to execute complex blocking schemes. One missed assignment and, as we know, the whole play blows up.

"You definitely have to be athletic," Walker said. "You have to have a motor on you and have to be a little nasty."

CLIMBING THE CHARTS

Quarterback Brian Griese is 304 yard shy of passing Steve Spurrier for 10th on the Bucs' all-time passer list. Spurrier threw for 1,628 yards in the final season of his NFL career and his only season in Tampa Bay, an 0-14 campaign in 1976. But Griese has a ways to go to catch leader Vinny Testaverde, who threw for 14,820 yards in six seasons.

WELL RESTED

Martin Gramatica has not tried a field goal since missing a 46-yard attempt against the Chiefs, three weeks ago today.

QUOTABLE

"Silly, crazy. I have a lot of those guys around me."

- linebacker Jeff Gooch on his definition of a Thanksgiving turkey