Brown Ready To Help Bucs' Offensive Line

July 30 - There are several reasons why Tampa Bay signed offensive tackle Lomas Brown to a one-year contract just before the Buccaneers reported to training camp. Actually, there are 17 reasons -- one for each year of playing experience Brown has under his belt. At 39, Brown wouldn't have played for just any team or anybody. In fact, the persistence of Bucs head coach Jon Gruden is what swayed Brown out of retirement to sign with the Pewter Pirates.

Lomas Brown thought he had retired from the National Football League, but that was before he got on the telephone with Tampa Bay head coach Jon Gruden.

"Coach Gruden was so persistent," said Brown. "We were talking on the phone one time and he said he wasn't getting off until I agreed to come down there and play.

"I really was (contemplating retirement). I put my time in. My father is sick back in Miami. I had a lot of personal things that I was dealing with. I finally got a chance to play in a Super Bowl here (Tampa). I didn't like the results, but I got a chance to play in the Super Bowl. With the prospects of coming to a team that truly does have a shot at winning it all and a very persistent coach (are what convinced me to come back)."

Gruden insisted that it didn't take as many phone calls to lure Brown to Tampa Bay as Brown had suggested, but Gruden certainly is happy to have Brown on the team.

"We brought in Lomas Brown, not only because we're football fans -- we brought him in because he's an every-game starter at left tackle for a long time in this league," said Gruden. "We think he can still play."

Brown, who rated himself a five on a scale of 1-10 in terms of being 100 percent conditioned, looks forward to contributing to his new team in any way he can.

"We seem to have a young line here with a lot of potential up front," said Brown. "My role is to probably come in and try to add a little experience and try to help out some of the guys as much as I can. If need be, if I have to play or they want me to play, I'll be ready to do that."

At 39, Brown didn't know if he had much left in the tank, but Gruden and Tampa Bay offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Bill Muir, who Brown briefly played under when they both were with the Cleveland Browns, assured him that he had enough left in the tank for at least one more season.

"From talking to coach Gruden and coach (Bill) Muir, they said they watched the film from last year," said Brown. "They felt that I could still play. That's what we talked about before I signed here. From me at this point being 39, it's just the physical part of it. I have the knowledge, it's just being able to go out there and apply it physically at 39. My challenge right now is to pick up the system and try to be physically prepared to go in there if I have to or if they want me to be ready."

Tampa Bay signed veteran swing tackle Roman Oben and re-signed Pete Pierson earlier in the offseason. Those signings along with the addition of Brown has some wondering how confident Gruden is in second-year left tackle Kenyatta Walker.

While Gruden may or may not be sold on Walker as the team's starting left tackle, Gruden apparently isn't willing to take any chances. Tampa Bay's offense struggled last season and plenty its woes were attributed to the offensive line's inconsistent play. The Bucs' offensive line allowed 47 sacks and blocked for a running game that ranked 30th in the NFL in 2001. Gruden has given the team alternatives at the left tackle position, which bodes well for the offense.

Whether he's a backup or the starting left tackle, Brown is looking forward to helping Walker grow as a player in any way he can.

"He (Walker) has the physical talent," said Brown. "He has the tools. From everything I've seen so far, he has the tools. Coming into the NFL as a rookie is going to be hard, especially at the offensive line position. Especially at left tackle, facing the best pass rusher off of every team that you play each weekend. I heard that he struggled a bit last year, but that should have been kind of expected because it's a very demanding position. Being a junior coming out of school, it puts a lot more pressure on you. I think he'll be a lot better this year. Anything that I can do to help him, I'm going to try to do."

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All photos are courtesy of Pewter Report director of photography Cliff Welch unless noted otherwise. Click here to visit Welch's web site.

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