TAMPA — Tampa Bay Buccaneers LT Donald Penn is set to reach a cherished milestone Sunday at Seattle.
The 30-year-old undrafted free agent out of Utah State is slated to make his 100th consecutive NFL start for the Bucs (0-7), who take on the powerful Seahawks at noisy CenturyLink Field.
“I’m blessed,’’ said Penn, who was pilfered off Minnesota’s practice squad on Oct. 4, 2006, and started at Indianapolis three days later. “Thank God I was able to do it, especially as a free agent, starting from the bottom and working my way up. It’s a great accomplishment. It seems like yesterday I was here battling (DE) Simeon Rice, trying to stay on the team.’’
Penn signed a six-year, $41.7-million contract in the summer of 2010 and promptly made the 2011 NFC Pro Bowl roster.
“I’ve been through my ups and downs and I’m very blessed to make it through injury free,’’ he said. “I hope to keep it going. I might have missed only two or three practices since I’ve been here. I don’t miss practice, either. I fight through a lot of pain and aches and we’ve got a great training staff.’’
Penn singled out two mentors during his pro career.
“First, Derrick Brooks, who saw something in me when I first got here and told me the potential I had,’’ Penn said. “The other is Davin Joseph. I’ve followed Davin’s lead since I’ve been here. I lift what he lifts and if he does extra, I do extra.’’
In an effort to replicate the crowd noise expected at CenturyLink Field, the Bucs pumped up the volume over the speakers at team headquarters during Wednesday’s practice.
“It might be interesting to have someone do the decibel meter, because it’s got to be close (to Seattle),’’ Tampa Bay offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan said. “I’ve been up there three times and what we had out at practice was pretty loud.’’
Still the one
Despite losing 12 of his past 13 games on the Tampa Bay sideline, prompting widespread criticism of his job performance, Schiano feels blessed to be in his chosen profession.
“Every day, I love what I do,’’ he said. “For 26 years, I get up every morning excited to do it. It isn’t fun for some of the stuff your family has to go through, but my job, it’s the best. What I do for a living, I wouldn’t trade that.’’
Cornering the market
When the Bucs and Seahawks take the field, Darrelle Revis won’t be the only elite cornerback on display.
Seattle’s Richard Sherman, a brash, physical 6-foot-3 corner, has 16 interceptions in his first 34 NFL starts and Seattle has allowed only six touchdown passes halfway through the 2013 season.
“He plays with confidence and backs it up,’’ Bucs offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan said of Sherman, who earned All-Pro honors last year. “There’s no question he’s a heck of a player and it’ll be a big challenge for us.’’