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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Break Out

Marcus Jones’ career trajectory took another strong turn upward last season


DE Marcus Jones had one of the finest pass-rushing seasons in Buc history last fall

Marcus Jones' pass-rushing efforts in 2000 might have been overshadowed by the even greater season turned in by Warren Sapp, but consider this when evaluating Jones' breakthrough campaign:

Only three players in Buccaneer history have ever had as many as 13 sacks in one season. Hall of Famer Lee Roy Selmon is one and potential Hall of Fame candidate Sapp is another.

The third is Jones.

That the former North Carolina star was able to join that trio in 2000 was nothing short of remarkable, given that his career as a Buccaneer was considered all but dead after the 1998 season. After struggling through ankle injuries and maturity issues for his first three NFL seasons, Jones entered the 1999 offseason with a grand total of 32 tackles, one sack and four games started. It surprised no one when he was left exposed for the Cleveland Browns expansion draft.

In one of the greatest non-moves in Buc history, Jones was not picked up by the Browns and he was not released by Tampa Bay, as some expected. Instead, he was given a new position on the end of the line and, as it turns out, a new lease on his NFL life.

Since switching from defensive tackle to end during the 1999 offseason, Jones has played in all 32 games, started 20 and racked up 86 tackles and 20 sacks. He has also repeatedly admitted that his early-career approach to the game was lacking and has transformed himself into one of the team's hardest workers. The Bucs were so impressed with Jones' newfound productivity and his improved outlook that it signed him to a lucrative contract extension in the middle of the 2000 season.

Jones didn't disappoint after cashing in on November 19, immediately going on a three-game streak with at least one sack each week. Earlier in the season, in Tampa Bay's 41-13 dismantling of the previously-undefeated Minnesota Vikings, Jones became the first player in franchise history to have four sacks in one contest. Even Sapp is still waiting for his first four-sack game, and Selmon never accomplished it during his amazing career.

Of course, the man who broke Lawrence Taylor's Tar Heel sack record is used to being mentioned in the same breath as some big NFL names. For quite some time, it appeared that the only past Buccaneers Jones would be linked with were first-round disappointments as Keith McCants and Eric Curry. Now he's viewed as an integral part of the Bucs' defensive foundation.

As Tampa Bay's signing of Simeon Rice makes clear, the Buccaneers are convinced that an effective defense starts up front. Jones has reworked himself into a commodity that the team believes is extremely valuable. To see just how he did so during the 2000 season, please click here (56K Real). To see the video in 100K Real, please click here and for 300K, please click here.

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