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Ruud Helping Out Possible Replacement in McKenzie

As an unrestricted free agent, middle linebacker Barrett Ruud may not be back for a seventh season with the Buccaneers in 2011. Anwar Richardson of The Tampa Tribune reports that hasn’t stopped Ruud from helping Tyrone McKenzie, one of his potential replacements.

“I flew up to Nebraska and met with Barrett last week, and he was nice enough to sit down with me,” McKenzie said. “We went over the defense. I had a good grasp of it with (linebackers) coach (Joe) Baker during the season. It was good to sit down with somebody and talk about football.

“I flew up to Omaha and he drove from Lincoln to Omaha to see me. Me and him met in the lobby and went over tape. That shows the type of classy guy Barrett is and leadership he has.”

McKenzie, a 2009 third round pick out of South Florida by the New England Patriots, missed his rookie season with a torn ACL and spent the first nine weeks of the regular on New England’s practice squad. McKenzie joined the Buccaneers’ practice squad late last season, and was added to the 53-man roster for the final three weeks of the season.

In three games, McKenzie was credited with five tackles, four on special teams.

The Buccaneers have not ruled out re-signing Ruud, who totaled 585 tackles, five quarterback sacks, six interceptions, and 20 passes defensed in his 95-game, 68-start career. Tampa Bay used a 2011 third round pick on University of Washington linebacker Mason Foster, who could start in the middle right away.

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