Donald Penn Talks About Less TalkSeptember 2nd, 2012
The Bucs left tackle who has started 76 consecutive games and played pretty damn well, Mr. Donald Penn, hasn’t been heard from much through training camp and preseason. Penn loves to talk but he’s been keeping quiet. Why? Because Penn feels there’s been too much talk from the offensive line and not enough dominance, plus Penn believes media types have burned him by focusing on his weight. Penn and Joe chatted yesterday. Here’s the part of their exchange Joe can share.
JoeBucsFan.com: With Davin Joseph out, a guy who was a leader and a guy Coach Schiano considered a top team leader, do you feel any extra pressure to step up and lead differently than your usual style?
Donald Penn: I kind of do. But it’s kind of like, I’m going to try and do it by example more now. Not really doing a lot of talking, just go out there and do my job and do it to the utmost effort. And show other guys, you know, when they’re down they’ll look at me and see me bustin’ my butt and going hard, you know they pick it up too. When I see something super noticeable, I will speak up on it. But I’m going to approach it all will less talk and more showing. More by example.
Joe: Why less talk?
Penn: I think in the past with this O-line, there’s been a lot of talk and we show it sometimes and not all the time. So I think we need to stop talking and just come to work everyday and do it everyday because we’re very talented on this line but we haven’t put it together for a whole season yet. We’ve done it at times. This year we need to put it together for the whole season and every game be the strong point of the offense.
Joe: Your peers around the NFL voted you the 97th best player in the league, revealed on NFL Network this summer. Do your teammates have some fun with you about that?
Penn: I snuck in. I snuck in. No, it was real fun for me to find out. As a matter of fact, the person that told me was Carl [Nicks]. He texted me the day it came on and I put it on the TV. I was real disappointed when I wasn’t in it in 2011. I thought I was supposed to have been in it last year. I was happy to get there this year. It was good to get recognition from the other guys, especially where I came from [being undrafted.] Next year I’m trying to crack the 50.
Joe: Because of the media’s focus on your weight, a lot of fans care about it. Do you think it makes a difference how you play, if you’re weight changes five, 10, 20, or 30 pounds? Are you a different player at any kind of weight? Better or worse?
Penn: No. I don’t think so. I think everybody has to find something to pick at. And me, I’m never in trouble in the public. I’m never in trouble for not being here working. I’m great with foundations. I do a lot of outside stuff nobody knows about helping kids and stuff like that. I play great football. They’ve got to find something. I think that’s what they’re digging at and that’s what they’re picking at. And, you know, you can’t believe everything people tell you. I learned that a long time ago. You can’t believe everything people tell you. I’m tired of hearing about it. I’m tired of people talking about it. My play shows. I play well every game. I play my butt off. A play here and there happens; they get paid, too. You know, I’m not going to be perfect every single play. But I try, and I’m damn near close to perfect. But every slip up, it seems to blow up when it’s me. I’m just going to go out there again and keep getting better. We’ve got a great group of guys, a great team, a great coaching staff. In a couple of days we’re going to be able to show it.
Joe: In past years, you’ve had a young player alongside you to mentor and look out for, like Ted Larsen as a rookie diving in off the bench in 2010. Is there a difference for you now with Carl Nicks next to you and knowing you don’t have to worry about him?
Penn: I think it’s going to help me out a lot having that dominant guy inside, especially in the run game and the way I can focus more on the opponent. Since I’ve been in the league, I haven’t had a guard play with me consistently for more than a year other than Aaron Sears. Carl and I are going to have our timing down, and he’s always going to be there. I can count on it. I feel a lot more comfortable. I don’t have to help out that much. With Ted when he jumped in as a rookie like you mentioned, I did everything I could do to help him and get him ready and have his back. And that’s what teammates do. But now I can worry about Donald and what Donald got to do. I don’t have to help Carl with any little things. I can completely focus on the defense.