Tampa Bay Buccaneers

A Ring for Nerys

Of the nine players originally allocated to the NFL Europe League by the Buccaneers this season, only C Jason Nerys will come back with a championship, though QB Jared Allen got close

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QB Jared Allen (12) couldn't overcome Frankfurt's defense and running game

Nine Tampa Bay Buccaneers were allocated to the NFL Europe League this spring.

Seven ended up playing full, 10-game seasons with their European squads. Three were in the championship until the campaign's final weekend. Two played in World Bowl XIV on Saturday.

One will get a ring.

On Saturday, in a game broadcast live in America by the NFL Network, the Frankfurt Galaxy defeated the Amsterdam Admirals, 22-7, in the World Bowl. The last Buc standing, the one who can now call himself a world champion is center Jason Nerys, a valuable cog in the Galaxy's unstoppable rushing machine.

Nerys, a first-year player out of Delaware, signed with the Buccaneers in January and was part of the nine-man contingent allocated to the NFLEL by Tampa Bay. Nerys first entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the New York Jets in 2004, so it was an interesting coincidence that he would spend the spring alternating with a current Jets player, center Charles Missant. Missant generally started for the Galaxy, but Nerys would get frequent sub time, and the two would help Frankfurt set an all-time NFLEL record with 175.3 rushing yards per game.

The 6-4, 310-pound Nerys started the Galaxy's 10th contest of the season, in which Frankfurt clinched the second World Bowl berth by defeating Berlin. In the championship game on Saturday, Nerys was back to his substitute role, but the results were the same for Frankfurt: a 269-yard ground attack that accounted for more than half of the total yards accumulated by both teams.

As a result, Frankfurt denied Amsterdam a second straight league title and won its record fourth World Bowl. The Bucs had a starter on the opposite sideline, as well, as first-year quarterback Jared Allen handled the offense for the Admirals. Allen experienced the second half of Frankfurt's championship formula on his eighth drop-back of the day, as he was sacked for a safety and the game's first points by Green Bay Packers defensive end Jerome Nichols. Allen was sacked six times on the day, including three times in the first quarter, by the league's top-ranked defense.

Allen did lead Amsterdam to a 7-2 halftime lead, however. His 14-yard strike to San Diego Chargers running back Larry Croom in the second quarter set up Croom's 12-yard touchdown run two plays later. Allen, who took over the Admiral's starting job in Week Eight after a season-ending injury to potential league MVP Gibran Hamdan, finished the game with 13 completions in 26 attempts for 126 yards. He did not throw a touchdown and was picked off once.

Allen's interception, on a third-quarter pass intended for Chicago Bears wide receiver Craig Bragg, played a part in Frankfurt's game-winning rally. The Galaxy took the lead on their second drive of the second half, a 66-yard touchdown march in which every yard was gained on the ground. Four plays later, Allen's pass was redirected by Seattle Seahawks cornerback Brandon Haw, setting up a short Frankfurt field goal. Two more rugged, run-first drives produced 10 unanswered Galaxy points in the fourth quarter and the World Bowl victory.

Nerys and the Galaxy offensive line helped probable league MVP Roger Robinson rush for 96 yards in the championship game. Robinson, an Arizona Cardinals allocate finished the regular season with a league-record 1,087 rushing yards but he wasn't even the Galaxy's top rusher on Saturday. That honor went to Butchie Wallace, a runner so far not affiliated with an NFL team, who ran for 143 yards and a touchdown on just 18 carries, including a 63-yard breakaway in the fourth quarter that iced the game.

Win or lose, the experience was invaluable for both Nerys and Allen, who are trying to use the live playing experience offered by the NFLEL as a springboard to bigger things in the NFL. Those last two Bucs are scheduled to fly back to Tampa on Monday, a week after their fellow European travelers came back to the parent team. Those five – kicker Xavier Beitia, guard Phil Bogle, running back Jacque Lewis, punter Brian Simnjanovski and linebacker Jermaine Taylor – have already put a week of practice with the Bucs under their belt. Allen and Nerys will soon join the ranks in preparation for the start of training camp in late July.

Of all of them, Nerys will be the only one with an additional prize from Europe: A championship ring. As a part of the Galaxy's record-setting offensive line, he can take pride in an outstanding and ultimately fulfilling season…months before the real season begins.

Two other Buccaneers, wide receiver Jonathan Carter and defensive tackle Keith Wright, were allocated to this year's NFLEL season but were unable to participate in the games after sustaining injuries. Wright has recently rejoined the Buccaneers and is expected to report to training camp with the team; Carter is still in the middle of his rehabilitation.

Here's a look at how the other seven Buccaneers allocated to the NFLEL this spring fared over the full season:

  • QB Jared Allen, Amsterdam Admirals…Made 3 starts and played in 7 games…Passed for 670 yards and four touchdowns…Also started World Bowl XIV for Amsterdam, completing 13 of 26 passes for 126 yards, no touchdowns and one interception.
  • Xavier Beitia, Berlin Thunder…Led team with 48 points scored…Had only 13 field goal tries but nailed nine of them, including all four from 40-49 yards…Also true on all 21 point after attempts.
  • G Phil Bogle, Hamburg Sea Devils…Started all 10 games at right guard…Helped Hamburg allow a league-low 12 sacks during the season.
  • RB Jacque Lewis, Rhein Fire…Shared backfield duties with Fredrick Jackson, often alternating on a play-by-play basis…Rushed for 378 yards and a team-best five TDs…Added 17 receptions for 145 yards.
  • G Jason Nerys, Frankfurt Galaxy…Played in all 11 games, including World Bowl XIV…Started only regular-season finale but substituted regularly with starting center Charles Missant…Helped Frankfurt rush for league-record 1,753 yards, plus another 269 in the World Bowl.
  • P Brian Simnjanovski, Berlin Thunder…Punted 50 times, averaging 39.5 yards per kick, with a net of 32.5…Showed outstanding directional punting ability, dropping 18 punts inside the opponents' 20-yard line.
  • LB Jermaine Taylor…Berlin Thunder…Played in all 10 games and started nine at right outside linebacker…Finished third on the team with 58 tackles and tied for the team lead with nine stops on special teams…Also broke up six passes.
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