Penn writes new chapter in his career
Donald Penn was walking off the field at Candlestick Park on Sunday when he sidled up to Buccaneers general manager Mike Dominik. Penn asked if he had an incentive for touchdowns in his contract.
"Get away from me," Dominik said. "We're gonna have to work something out on that," Penn said later.
It's all fun and games when you beat a team 21-0, as the Bucs did to the San Francisco 49ers. But the most fun of all came in the fourth quarter, when Penn caught a 1-yard touchdown pass from Josh Freeman.
The play worked perfectly. The only thing that didn't was Penn's attempt to throw the ball into the stands where his family was sitting. He came up a little short.
"They had a whole little section," Penn said. "I couldn't quite get it there."
Said running back LeGarrette Blount, "He's 300-plus pounds. He probably doesn't have an arm like Josh."
As for throwing the ball in the stands in the first place, an act that can result in a fine, Blount said, "He's the highest paid lineman on the team. He can afford that. I'm not going to throw a ball in the stands. It's $5,000 coming out of my paycheck. I can't afford it."
Penn said he first started lobbying offensive coordinator Greg Olson to catch a pass after he caught a tipped ball last year against Philadelphia, a play on which Penn ran for 15 yards and a first down. He said he had never caught a pass before that game, not even in youth ball.
"I think it was around Week 3 (this season), he says, 'I came up with something for you,' " Penn said of Olson. "So we had it in. We practice it once a week. I told Josh, 'You better not run that ball.' "
The play is designed as a quarterback option with Freeman either throwing it to Penn or running it. Penn reported eligible at left end and blocked on the line before releasing to his left. Freeman was rolling the same way and delivered the ball a little low, allowing Penn to show off those nice hands he's been telling his teammates about.
"He caught it with his hands," cornerback Ronde Barber said. "He caught it below his waist. It was a heck of a catch. He keeps claiming that he's got great hands. We saw it in practice a couple of times. You've got to give him credit."
Said middle linebacker Barrett Ruud, "As bad a body as he has, he's pretty nimble. It was a graceful catch, an awful celebration."
Penn was born in Los Angeles and played college ball at Utah State. The undrafted free agent originally signed with Minnesota before Tampa Bay signed him off the Vikings' practice squad in 2006. He's been the Bucs' starting left tackle since Oct. 7, 2007, and signed a six-year deal on the first day of training camp worth a reported $48 million after staying away from all of Tampa Bay's offseason workouts.
The Buccaneers may not be paying him for his pass-catching abilities, but that's not going to slow Penn down.
"We are not going to hear the end of that forever," center Jeff Faine said. "It's not even this week. I'll see him 30 years from now and he'll still be talking about it."