G Davin Joseph missed the first four weeks of the season due to an injury but is ready to help the Bucs' O-line dominate down the stretch
Tampa Bay Buccaneers starting right guard Davin Joseph and Adrian Peterson, the Minnesota Vikings' superstar running back, sported the same jersey while in college at Oklahoma from 2004-2005.
On Sunday, Joseph and Peterson will be reunited on the same playing field, but this time they'll be facing off as professional opponents seeking to one-up each other as each team fights for its own division title.
As deep as their Sooner connections might run, Joseph says there won't be any love lost as he and the Bucs try to beat Peterson and the Vikings and tally their seventh win of the season.
"We haven't really stayed in touch. He's not a guy that talks a lot and I'm not a guy to answer the phone," Joseph said with a laugh. "We're not really phone buddies, especially this week.
"I don't know what I'm going to say to him. It all depends on my attitude, I guess. I'm not much to talk, but we'll see."
Although Joseph's blocking helped Peterson rush for the second-highest career total in Oklahoma school history, this week Joseph will be paving the way for Buccaneer backs while rooting on his current defensive teammates to shut down his former schoolmate.
"It's always exciting watching the guy," Joseph said. "You always want to see somebody that you played with have success. But I don't want to him to have success against us. It's one of those games where I would love to see our defense go out there and shut him down. But he's an excellent player so it will be a great challenge for our defense.
"The tape speaks for itself. There's not really much you can say. It can seem like you have him bottled up and he's having a rough half, but he's had some games where he comes in the second half with some explosions and major yards, record-setting games. You don't know what you're going to get, so you have to play him like any other player and we've had success against some talented running backs. We'll be fine."
Setting aside the reunion between the two former Sooners, Joseph will be focused instead on helping the Bucs' running game get back on track. After the Bucs posted two subpar performances on the ground in Dallas and Kansas City, a stiff test awaits in the form of Minnesota's stingy run defense.
Echoing the attitude of the entire Tampa Bay offensive line, Joseph said he is eager to face off against a defensive line littered with Pro Bowlers. After all, to be the best, you have to beat the best.
"They're tough up front," Joseph said. "Really, if you're going to make a run towards the NFC Championship, you've got to be able to block guys up front like Kevin Williams and Pat Williams. You have to be able to block defensive ends like Jared Allen. It's just another test for us. You can say the run game is slacking, but our passing game has really picked up. It's a balancing act right now and Jeff [Garcia] is hot. We're all for it.
"There are some games, you look on the schedule and you really circle them and you put some extra attention on them. Those divisional games and those elite NFC teams like Chicago, Green Bay and Dallas, you look at games like that and that's really a test. It will show you if you're ready to run with the big dogs or if you're not there yet. It's one of those games that is really going to let us know how good of a team we are."
Joseph missed the first four games of 2008 season with a foot injury but has since returned to start the last five. Coming off the bye week, Joseph feels that he and the rest of his team are refreshed, recharged and ready to begin the sprint down the stretch in a tight NFC playoff race.
"We needed that week, just like every team needs a bye week," Joseph said. "Ours came at right about the right time, so we're excited to see a lot of guys who haven't played yet this season or played limited roles this season really come back and contribute. We have a lot to look forward to. We're as recharged as you can get. A week off definitely helps with this stretch that we have. We have seven games left and we are looking pretty good. It's a race to the finish right now. We just have to get as many wins as we can and hopefully take the momentum into the playoffs.
"At this point, I think we're ready to make a serious run right now. Guys are really playing well, we're getting a lot of guys back from injuries and we're looking good as an offense. The defense has been playing consistent and really we had a tough test going before the bye week, so all the components are really coming in to help us. We've been through some tough games, had some tough losses, some major wins, overtime wins. We've played a whole season in about half a season. I think this team is ready for anything."