Prepare yourself as best you can. Take a seat first, drink a cup of strong coffee, do what you need to do and get it out of your system. Because when you turn that TV on tonight and you watch your Tampa Bay Buccaneers, they are not going to look too familiar. It will be the first time since 1995 that the Buccaneers defense goes into battle without coordinator Monte Kiffin. Add on another year since the last time the weak outside linebacker position was manned by someone other than number 55; Derrick Brooks. They say Barrett Ruud will take over as team leader. We know Jim Bates is the new man in charge of the side of the ball that has gotten it done for the Bucs for a great deal of time, and No One is going into this season with higher expectiations than Gaines Adams. But on the other side, Jimmy Wilkerson who parleyed a starting spot in the lineup last season. Wilkerson had 5 sacks, but 4 came in the last half of the year.
From 2003 to 2007, He started a grand total of 5 games for the Kansas City Chiefs. The Bucs saw something in him that KC did not; and made him the starting Defensive End for 2009. It was his offseason improvements that spoke volumes for him. He slimmed down from 290 to 265, yet added muscle in its place.
Tampa Bay ranked 19th in sacks per pass play last season. That just will not cut it, in fact the Bucs were held scoreless in sacking for 3 straight games in October; @Denver, Carolina, and Seattle.
Now Wilkerson is optimistic the plans implemented by Bates will improve Tampa Bay's pass rush this season. Now that he is a starter, he can finally be at ease, but his wait to become a standout left end has just started! But he has had an excellent attitude, working hard even after the OTAs were finished and the wait for season began.
If the Bucs are to try to have a winning record in 2009, players like Jimmy Wilkerson are going to be the ones that that lead them there.