DE Marques Douglas plans to impress the Buccaneers with his work ethic
As NFL free agents sort through various offers and look for a new place to call home, there are a variety of issues that must be weighed.
Money, of course, is an undeniable factor in the equation, and there are such equally important considerations as potential playing time, franchise location, team facilities, etc.
But for recently relocated defensive end Marques Douglas, one of the biggest lures that led him to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was something less tangible. It was the mindset at One Buccaneer Place, a mindset that has long demanded tough, hard-nosed defensive football.
"The Buccaneers, along with a couple other teams, have been synonymous with good defense over the years," Douglas said. "When I met with [Defensive Coordinator Monte] Kiffin, it was a lot like what we had in Baltimore – the accountability, the trust factor, working hard and just doing what you're supposed to. Just thinking about that, it gave me a chance to get back to what I was accustomed to, something I hadn't had over the last three years."
The previous three seasons Douglas was referring to were spent in San Francisco, on a defense that finished 25th in the league in 2007, 26th in 2006 and dead last in 2005.
Those struggles on defense were surely a source of frustration for Douglas, who came into his own in 2003 and 2004 as a member of the defense-minded Baltimore Ravens. Although he produced at both stops on his way to Tampa, opening 78 games over those five seasons as a full-time starter and notching 323 tackles and 18 sacks, Douglas said a return to a perennially-strong defense was a welcome opportunity.
And on the Bucs' end of things, the team is getting an experienced, versatile defender who can play either inside or outside on the defensive line.
Adding another veteran of Douglas' caliber to a defensive front already stocked with experienced linemen such as Kevin Carter, Chris Hovan, Ryan Sims and fellow free agent signee Jimmy Wilkerson – not to mention second-year rising stars Gaines Adams and Greg White – creates an interesting mix of talented players.
When asked what he could bring to the table as part of such a diverse group, Douglas' answer was simple.
"I'm a player; I'm a gamer," Douglas said. "If you look at me, I might not pass everybody's test as far as what a defensive lineman should look like, but at the same time, I'm a worker. I work hard, and hopefully what I bring to the group is added hard-nose play and a guy you can count on every Sunday to start out the game strong and finish the game strong."
With so many talented defensive linemen already under contract in Tampa – including Adams and Carter, who started the bulk of the team's games in 2007 – it may have been easy for Douglas to look elsewhere and sign with a club where the competition for playing time might have been less intense.
But Douglas said he's relishing the opportunity to compete for snaps as a Buccaneer and his aim is set squarely on earning a starting spot come opening day.
"I envision myself as a starter," Douglas said. "No matter what role I'm in here, that's how I've been playing. That's what I expect of myself. I've always been the one who will go in and play against the best offensive guys. Over the last few years, I've been successful at doing that and I don't see why it should stop there.
"I don't want to be handed anything," Douglas continued. "I want to work for it and let the chips fall where they may. I know what I'm capable of, and that's producing on the field and being one of those guys you can count on. I'm a vocal player, but at the same time I like to let my actions speak as loud as my words on Sunday. That's why I think I've been so successful in the NFL."
And with OTAs and training camp right around the corner, the Bucs certainly hope Douglas' experience, productivity and hard-working attitude can add another dimension to an already-talented defensive line.