The last Buccaneer to win one of the NFL’s Rookie of the Month award was running back LeGarrette Blount, who took the award home for an outstanding December in 2010. That will remain the team’s most recent ROTM title for at least one more month, but several Buccaneer newcomers look like they could soon be adding to the trophy case at One Buc Place.
At the very least, Buccaneer rookies are showing up on the short list. On Wednesday, the NFL announced that Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III and New England defensive end Chandler Jones were the September Offensive and Defensive Rookies of the Month, respectively. Given Griffin’s 103.2 passer rating and Jones’ three sacks in the month, the two appear to be worthy choices.
Two Buccaneers were in the mix, however. Running back Doug Martin was one of 10 players considered for the offensive award, while linebacker Lavonte David was one of six nominees on the defensive side. The Buccaneers and the Titans, who had wide receiver Kendall Wright and linebacker Zach Brown nominated, were the only teams to have a player in both the offensive and defensive groups of nominees.
Martin is second among NFL rookies with 247 rushing yards behind Griffin’s teammate, running back Alfred Morris. David is first among NFL rookies with 33 tackles.
If Martin manages to take home one of the ROTM awards in the coming months, he will join a pretty long list of Bucs who have accomplished that early-career feat. FB Mike Alstott was the first to do it, in 1996, and he was later joined by RB Warrick Dunn in 1997, QB Shaun King in 1999, RB Cadillac Williams in 2005 (twice) and Blount in 2010.
However, no Buccaneer has ever won the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Month award, somewhat surprisingly. With safety Mark Barron joining David among the NFL’s leading rookie tacklers, there’s reason to hope that drought will end in 2012.
The Bucs obviously had high hopes for both Barron, the seventh overall pick in the 2012 draft, and David, the 58th. Still, many well-regarded rookies have had more difficulty adjusting to the NFL than expected. Not so these two.
“I don’t think you do [know for sure],” said Defensive Coordinator Bill Sheridan. “You know you spend a lot of time interviewing these guys pre-draft. You visit with them, and at the combine or go to their campus or bring them here. But I don’t think you have an idea until they get into the playbook. You are in the camp and you are in the install putting in the new coverages and every meeting and new pressures and fronts and that kind of stuff that you really get a feel for how that guy can handle it.”