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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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Loading Up on the Line

Still shopping aggressively, the Bucs turned their attention to one of the team’s main areas of concern on Tuesday, signing former Giant Luke Petitgout to bolster the offensive line


Luke Petitgout started at three different positions on the offensive line during his eight years with the Giants

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were extremely busy over the first four days of the NFL's open market, adding assets to the defensive line, the running back corps and, most especially, the quarterback stable. But there was little doubt that the team would address the offensive line at some point in free agency, and that point proved to be Tuesday afternoon.

That's when the Buccaneers announced the signing of versatile and experienced lineman Luke Petitgout, a New York Giant for his first eight NFL seasons. As is team policy, terms of Petitgout's contract were not released.

Petitgout has played for just one NFL team but his professional career has been anything but limited. The Giants have made great use of the former Notre Dame standout's versatility, starting him at left guard (1999), right tackle (2000-01) and left tackle (2002-06). Petitgout excelled wherever he was employed and will give his new team multiple options for the front line in 2007.

Petitgout became a free agent when the Giants released him and several other veterans in a series of cap-related moves prior to the start of the new league year. The Buccaneers, who have invested significant time and resources in reshaping their own offensive line, were only too happy to see the former first-team Sports Illustrated All-Pro on the market.

Like several of the Bucs' other early targets in free agency – Kevin Carter, Jeff Garcia – Petitgout is a recognized clubhouse leader, a pure football man who rarely takes a day off and is committed to his team's goals. He will join a largely young offensive line that last year started rookies at both right tackle (Jeremy Trueblood) and right guard (Davin Joseph).

The 6-6, 310-pound Petitgout first entered the league as New York's first-round pick in the 1999 draft, the 19th player selected overall. He appeared in 15 games as a rookie, starting eight at left guard. In 2000, he was switched to right tackle, where he started every game for a Giants squad that reached Super Bowl XXXV, which was played in Tampa.

After Lomas Brown departed for the Super-Bowl bound Buccaneers in 2002, Petitgout moved over to left tackle and helped pave the way for Tiki Barber's breakout season. Barber would gain nearly 1,400 rushing yards during that campaign, and never again fall below 1,200 yards before his retirement following the 2006 season. Petitgout missed six games in 2003 due to a back injury but otherwise was in the starting lineup for all but one game from 2000-05.

His final year in New York was marred a bit by injury. He started the first nine games as the Giants opened with a 6-3 record but was one of a long list of New York starters to go down during the season's second half. On November 12, Petitgout sustained a fracture to a non-weight-bearing bone in his left leg and was done for the year.

The 30-year-old Petitgout hails from Georgetown, Delaware.

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