Brainy DT would like a shot with Bucs

He calls himself a 'cerebral' defensive tackle who outwits opponents with his smarts instead of his body. But his instincts and speed are pretty good, too. Maybe that's why the Tampa Bay Buccaneers met with the Florida State player during the Senior Bowl in Mobile.

It had only been a few weeks since Florida State's bowl game, but defensive tackle Andre Fluellen said he was getting restless for a football game.

So there's little surprise he's in Mobile this week for the Senior Bowl, where the 6-foot-2, 279-pound tackle is playing for the South team.

"I know it's only been two or three weeks (since the bowl loss), but it's what I love to do and it's at the highest level," Fluellen said. "Some of the seniors don't want to play in this game. I'm embracing it. I'm glad to be here."

Fluellen probably needs to be here in Mobile, where more than 800 NFL coaches and scouts are taking in the workouts leading up to Saturday's Senior Bowl game at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. This week gives Fluellen — a projected fourth-round pick by some draft services — a chance to improve his stock.

He made his case to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earlier this week. The Bucs have spent a good part of their week in Mobile interviewing several defensive tackles that could be used as a three technique or nose tackle.

Fluellen played both at Florida State. He started only four games his senior year as he spent part of the season shelved by a hyperextended elbow. So he ended up with only 21 tackles in 2007.

But he appears to be healthy now and spent part of this week impressing some scouts with his speed off the ball.

But Fluellen said he's aware there are questions about other parts of his game.

"I think I have the size that a lot of these coaches want and I'm trying to prove to them that I can do whatever they want me to do," Fluellen said.

The Bucs have spoken to larger defensive tackles during this week, including Arkansas's Marcus Harrison (6-foot-3, 310). So Fluellen has spent extra time watching film and paying attention to his 49ers position coach during practices about footwork and technique.

"I think I'm more of a cerebral-type of defensive tackle," Fluellen said. "I really pay attention to technique. I'm not the biggest guy, so I have to do other things to make it work for me."

That meant using his quick first step to cause blockers problems during practice, though at the time he worked as a one-technique. That quick first step could make him an end in a 3-4 defense, as well.

But he admitted that he was happy to speak to the Bucs, who play the kind of system that Fluellen believes he could be successful in.

He's also spent plenty of time watching the Bucs, so he believes he knows what they're looking for.

"Oh yeah, especially growing up with Warren (Sapp) in there," Fluellen said. "I was a big fan. Still am."

Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for BucsBlitz.com and the Charlotte Sun-Herald in Port Charlotte, Fla. An award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers Association, he appears frequently on Scot Brantley Show from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WHBO 1470-AM in Tampa-Clearwater.


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