Observation Deck: Warren's impact

He admitted to be blown away in August when his teammates surrounded him on the field after a season-ending injury. But wide receiver Paris Warren may have had an impact on this season as the catalyst for that outpouring of team solidarity on that warm August night in Tampa.

Paris Warren spends his days in a walking boot most of the time, the result of the devastating ankle injury he suffered in Tampa Bay's preseason finale against Houston.

But he may have had a bigger impact on this team that you realize.

You saw the scene last Sunday in Carolina. Carnell Williams, on the ground, writhing in pain as the result of a patella tendon tear. The entire Buccaneers team surrounded Williams on the field. The game officials couldn't keep them back. They weren't supposed to be there, but they weren't going to leave Williams out there by himself.

It was an unusual show of team solidarity, even in the NFL, where team is everything.

And it might have started with Warren's injury. Running back coach Art Valero said the similar outpouring for Warren's injury in late August may have been the first step in this team coming together.

Like last Sunday in Carolina, the Buccaneers didn't wait to see if it was all right to go see Warren. They just went.

Told about Valero's comments, Warren wasn't sure what to think.

"When I looked up and saw everybody coming (in August) I was speechless," Warren said on Thursday in the locker room. "I was angry (about the injury). But then again, I felt the support that my teammates had for me. They know that when I'm on the field I'm going to bust my butt and give it all I've got. I saw the same thing when Cadillac went down.

"That just shows the support that you have for your fellow teammates. That's really hard to explain. You try to be tough, but sometimes it really hits you to see how other people care about you."

Perhaps the galvanizing effect of this team's outpouring over Warren's injury carried over to the season. Warren isn't sure. He's been a Buccaneer since 2005 and said this team has always been close. He didn't detect anything different during training camp regarding this team's chemistry. The coaches didn't do anything different, either, according to Warren.

But the Bucs are 3-1, so something must have changed. Football is more than X's and O's, Warren said. Players come to work together and they often hang out together after work. It creates an esprit de corps that is unique to the game.

Chemistry is one of those "intangible" traits that can make a team whole, some say.

"We have a group of guys that really do like each other, respect each other and care about each other," head coach Jon Gruden said about the show of support for Williams on Sunday.

Warren is just a month removed from his injury. He's been walking around the Buccaneers practice facility on crutches and in a walking boot, but he said he's ahead of schedule. He walks in a pool every morning and uses two red straps on his walking cast to assist in working on his foot's range of motion. He has a doctor's appointment next week.

"I'm working my way up," Warren said.

And the Buccaneers are working their way toward a possible division title — and Warren, unwittingly, may have been a spark.


Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for BucsBlitz.com and the Charlotte Sun-Herald in Port Charlotte, Fla. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association and has won national awards for his Buccaneers coverage from the PFWA, the National Newspaper Association and the Associated Press Sports Editors. He is also a contributor to the Scot Brantley Show from 4-7 p.m. weekdays on WHBO 1490-AM in Tampa-Clearwater.


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