Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Mean Enough

Second-round pick Jeremy Trueblood is huge, mobile, intelligent and experienced, but does he have a mean streak? Maybe you should ask him

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T Jeremy Trueblood could follow in a long line of successful Boston College offensive linemen

Second-round pick Jeremy Trueblood is huge, mobile, intelligent and experienced, but does he have a mean streak? Maybe you should ask him

Most of us like to hear good things about ourselves, so the months leading up to the draft must have been hard on just about any prospect not named Reggie Bush or Mario Williams.

Being eligible for the draft means having every aspect of your game, not to mention your mental makeup, discussed in an endless array of "scouting reports." And with the thoroughness that the ultra-popular NFL Draft demands these days, no scouting report is complete unless it has a paragraph under the "Weaknesses" heading as fully formed as that under "Strengths."

And all of this is available for public consumption. How would you feel if a third party chose to detail your weaknesses for the rest of the universe? "Could stand to use a few pounds…tends to neglect yardwork…may be addicted to caffeine." Not necessarily a scouting report this writer would want to read over his bagel and cream cheese.

NFL players and prospects are asked about their weaknesses all the time. That is certainly true on draft weekend. And, given the nature of their occupations, it's fairly understandable. Depending upon the nature of the alleged weakness, the response from the player can vary from dismissal to begrudging agreement to irritation.

On Saturday, Boston College tackle Jeremy Trueblood was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the second round, with the 59th pick overall. Now, Trueblood was an outstanding college player, starting for three years at left tackle on a good Eagles offensive line. He just happens to be six-foot-eight, which could obviously be a big advantage for an offensive lineman but is also fairly rare for a dominant tackle.

As such, Trueblood is ready for some questions about his stature, and his answers on Saturday had a definite bent: Honesty.

Asked if he thought his height carried any disadvantages, Trueblood brought up the issue of dealing with pass-rushers who are significantly shorter than him.

"I guess one of the disadvantages is the leverage that guys smaller than me have," he said. "But, I don't see too many really short defensive ends in the NFL, I don't see a problem with that. And just being taller, and having longer arms and stuff like that, I feel I have the ability to overpower people. I hope that continues in the NFL."

Trueblood also conceded that it is natural to wonder if a lineman of his height is going to have problems bending at the knees and waist to get low enough to compete, though he hasn't found that to be an issue for him.

"I guess to a point," he said when the notion was advanced. "But, I think everyone should be concentrating on doing that. With the coaching I have received through the years, it hasn't been too much of a problem."

Ah, but there was one bit of criticism, one mildly damning phrase taken from some scouting report or another that truly got Trueblood's blood boiling.

The supposed "weakness:" He's not mean enough.

Them's fightin' words for an offensive or defensive linemen. These men spend their work days mauling with 300-pound men, punching each other in the chest, banging pads and swapping sweat. It's a rare lineman on either side who's feeling particularly nice after a three-hour game or two-hour practice. But, of course, within that world there must be a scale of players from meanest to sweetest. Trueblood doesn't like to be characterized near the sugar-coated end of that scale, and his reaction is probably a good indication that he's right.

"To anyone who says that, I'd tell you to put on any one of my game tapes and see how ferocious and nasty I am on the field," said Trueblood. "I think that's how every lineman should play. And if anyone says that about me, maybe they should go watch a little more game film."

Trueblood started 36 games at left tackle for the Eagles over the last three years. He says that wouldn't have been possible had he been thinking about sending greeting cards to the opposing defensive linemen.

"Every lineman should play with an attitude," he said. "That's the way you play at Boston College. Either you are going to play hard and just try to overpower people or you are not going to play. That's the way we play football up there."

Indeed, BC annually pumps out nasty O-linemen, NFL vets like Tom Nalen, Pete Kendall, Damien Woody, Chris Snee, Doug Brzezinski, Dan Koppen and Ron Stone. It's not likely that the Bucs are going to have to worry about unearthing a mean streak in Trueblood.

Besides, it would be difficult to make it through a Buccaneer training camp, let alone the regular season, without a certain amount of, shall we say, intensity. Trueblood is already prepared for that.

"Coach [Jon] Gruden, from what I can tell, just from watching games, he runs a real tight ship out there," said Trueblood. "He makes sure he gets the most out of his players."

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