|Best matchup of Bucs-Seahawks: rookie Gaines vs. Pro Bowler Jones|
|Written by Admin|
|Saturday, 08 September 2007 03:59|
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' rookie and fourth overall pick in April's draft is making his NFL debut on Sunday against Walter Jones.
The Seattle Seahawks left tackle is a consensus pick as the league's best offensive lineman, the dominator who makes Bucs coach Jon Gruden say, ``He blocks the sun out, man.''
Hey, kid, good luck eclipsing him on Sunday.
``Some things you just have to get put in the fire and see for yourself,'' Bucs linebacker Derrick Brooks said. ``We can tell him how great Walter is and he knows that. At the same time, he has to look forward to his first NFL game going against, arguably, one of the best left tackles to play the game.
``To me there is not a bigger stage and no bigger challenge coming out of the box to make a statement of where you want your career to go in playing against Walter.''
So how is Brooks, a 10-time Pro Bowler and leader of the defense, advising Adams?
``One, make sure you prepare yourself for a long day,'' Brooks said. ``And two, don't back down, step up, make the play.''
Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck hopes he won't notice the matchup. He usually doesn't pay attention to Jones during games because the perennial Pro Bowl left tackle is usually dominating a pass rusher.
``Most guys think it's an honor to go up against Walter Jones,'' Hasselbeck said. ``He's a very respectful player. When he gets you, he gets you. And then when you get him, he'll congratulate you.
``That's happened a couple times. I've heard about it.''
Opponents have said that respectfulness actually makes battling Jones even more demoralizing. They say there's a certain uneasiness about hearing Jones' praise on the rare occasion the 6-foot-5, 325-pound lineman actually yields ground - let alone permits his man to get near the ball carrier or quarterback.
Adams, at 6-5 and 258 pounds with receiver-like speed, is going to start because Patrick Chukwurah is out with a knee injury. He has the quickness plus moves that are unfamiliar to Jones to test the 33-year-old star. And Jones knows it.
``You look forward to the challenge,'' Jones said. ``It's going to be a great challenge for him and a great challenge for me.''
Even though Jones said he ``feels great'' after a painful 2006, he might be below top form Sunday. He didn't step on a field after the first drive of the preseason opener Aug. 12 until Wednesday.
``I'm getting there. I was a little rusty today,'' Jones said after his first practice in 3 1/2 weeks.
Jones' hiatus was coach Mike Holmgren's way of preserving Jones' legs and surgically repaired shoulder until the regular season. Last year, Jones got hurt in the opener and played every game hurt - and still went to a seventh Pro Bowl.
``Walt hasn't practiced very much, so I am not saying it is a concern. It should be to Walt's advantage,'' Holmgren said. ``But even with Walt it is no different, it is a little better if he has played against the guy before. Regardless of how big he is, how smart he is, how experienced he is, going against a guy he has never played against, there will be a challenge there.
``Walter Jones is a great football player. But the other guy will tee it up because it is Walter Jones. I imagine it would be a fun thing to watch during the football game.''
The Bucs believe Adams, an All-American last year at Clemson, is so good, they demanded Simeon Rice take a pay cut. When Rice didn't, Tampa Bay cut the veteran whose 121 sacks is second to the Giants' Michael Strahan among active players.
``Actually, the rookie is a pretty good player,'' Hasselbeck said. ``They got rid of Simeon Rice, who is one of the best D-ends of all time. So that obviously speaks volumes about what they think about his young kid. He's young. He's explosive. He's quick.''