New Start for Hovan

Former Viking looks to revitalize his career in Tampa Bay.

By Jeff Berlinicke The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, still far over their salary cap, have had to be prudent with their spending this spring, but they might have made a coup with the signing of free agent defensive tackle Chris Hovan.

Hovan, a first-round draft pick in 2000, started his career with the Minnesota Vikings in an impressive manner, and was second-team all-pro after the 2002 season. He fell out of favor, however, under Vikings coach Mike Tice, and was benched for most of the 2004 season.

The Bucs were in need of a defensive lineman after losing starter Chartric Darby to Seattle as a free agent. Anthony McFarland is questionable after suffering a serious triceps injury that benched him for the final half of the 2004 season.

Hovan had three impressive seasons with the Vikings, but plunged in 2003 when he made only 38 tackles. He was deactivated several times in 2004 and said he couldn't wait to get out of Minnesota as an unrestricted free agent.

Hovan arrived at Tampa for a workout on Monday vowing to regain his former form.

He was known for painting his face before Vikings games to fire up the Metrodome crowd, but he turned sour after being replaced. Hovan is 6-2, 294 pounds, somewhat small by NFL standards, but he's prominent for his speed.

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