By Jeff Berlinicke
He's always been the ultimate fan favorite, maybe the most popular Buc of all time.
Mike Alstott doesn't understand his reduced role in the Bucs offense and neither do most of the fans. Coach Jon Gruden consistently explains it by saying that every player on the roster has a role and stops it right there.
Alstott has always been the ultimate grinder, the guy who can pick up three yards when only two are needed. Ever since Cadillac Williams went down with an injury in Week 4, the Bucs running game has been nonexistent. Williams hasn't been able to regain his early season excellence and Michael Pittman hasn't been much better. Alstott is the Bucs best receiver out of the backfield, but he only had three touches in Sunday's 34-14 loss to Carolina in a much-needed division game.
On Alstott's first touch of the game, he caught a short pass and broke four tackles on a third-and-10 deep in Bucs territory. He picked up 12 yards for a key first down. Four plays later, Simms found Joey Galloway for a 50-yard touchdown.
He didn't touch the ball again until the third quarter when he made a nine-yard run on third-and-eight. On his final touch, he scored a touchdown from the one-yard line.
Alstott has refused to point any blame, but he is frustrated. This is likely his last year with the Bucs and many were surprised that he was brought back this season. With the arrival of Williams, it was a surprise that Alstott was brought back and most thought it was a public relations move by the Bucs.
Still, as Williams's foot injury might be worse than expected, Alstott can provide a spark to the Bucs backfield that ran for only 44 yards in the loss. With the Washington Redskins coming to Tampa on Sunday, someone will need to pick up yardage on the ground. The Redskins have one of the stingiest run defenses in the game, so this could be Alstott's last stand.
Alstott Still Delivers
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