Gruden stumps for linebacker Ruud

Rarely do head coaches campaign for one of their players for the Pro Bowl. But rarely are players as overlooked as Tampa Bay’s linebacker Barrett Rudd.

“For some reason, I wish he’d get more national respect as one of the up-and-coming stars in the league at that position,” Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden said Friday.

“I just don’t feel like people know about him like they do some of the other middle linebackers that play football in the league. He was a division champion last year, he’s our leading tackler, he’s a great player. He’s a great guy and a great player.

“I hope he gets to go to Pro Bowls and I hope he gets the accolades that go with great performances week-in and week-out. He’s played hurt, he’s played great when he’s been hurt, he’s playing solid football, he’s an every-down middle linebacker and I’m really proud of what he’s done. He’s a key to our team. He’s one of our big-time leaders.”

But then Rudd is like many of the Buccaneers, according to Gruden.

“We’ve got some guys that have really played great football here that are just all business, guys like Barrett and Tanard Jackson,” Gruden said. “I think Earnest Graham was that way. A lot of our guys are that way. We’ll keep it that way. I don’t mind having guys like Barrett Ruud around.”

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