TAMPA, Fla. In a season filled with so many negatives, any positive development can be uplifting for a downtrodden team. So the news that guard Davin Joseph had become the only Buc voted to the NFC Pro Bowl team naturally brought some smiles Wednesday in the Tampa Bay locker room.
Nobody, of course, was happier Joseph. But the six-year veteran out of Oklahoma viewed his second career nod as an honor for the entire offensive line.
"We have a talented league and a talented division, but it just shows how much work we put in up front, challenging each other on a day-to-day basis," he said. "(We're) always looking to get better. It's just a reflection of how hard the offensive line has been working this year. And I'm proud to be the one who was chosen, but I couldn't do it without my guys."
Joseph, a starter since his rookie year of 2006, began the season with a new contract worth 52.5-million over seven years. So ending up with a Pro Bowl appearance feels especially gratifying to the 6-3, 313-pounder a validation of his hard work and that of his fellow linemen.
"Of course, you want to win, and I'd give it all back for some wins," he said. "If you give me 10 wins, I'd trade it all in. But it just shows that we have talent. It's no doubt that we put in a lot of work. Things just aren't panning out for us right now, but soon they will be."
Joseph says the news, announced Tuesday night, caught him off guard.
"Oh yeah, it took me by surprise," he said. "I thought we were playing well up front, but winning and everything else goes into account. But I don't make the rules. I just play hard each and every week. And I'm glad to have a chance to play in another Pro Bowl."
Quarterback Josh Freeman, meanwhile, is glad to have Joseph protecting him on the front line and his reputation as a tough, relentless player precedes him.
"Davin's been a major bright spot," Freeman said. "I mean, the effort that that guy gives, his intensity. I hear guys all the time (say) 'You got to keep that No. 75 watch out for him, tell him to cut out the cheap shots,' which are not cheap shots. They're hustle plays.
"I remember (Detroit defensive tackle) Ndamukong Suh before the first game saying, 'Man, you've got to keep No. 75 from cheap-shotting.' I'm like, 'Are you really telling me this?' You of all people? Guys throughout the years have said the same thing. Brian Cushing (of the Texans) comes to mind. They know about that and know what kind of player he is. And it's great to have him on our team."
Joseph laughed when told of Freeman's comments.
"That's pretty much a good sign," he said. "When you have guys talking (that way) about you, it's good. Of course, those guys are very competitive. And up front, we look forward to going against guys of that high talent."
Joseph looks forward to blocking for some pretty talented quarterbacks in Hawaii, namely New Orleans' Drew Brees and Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers.
"It's always good to meet guys of that caliber and also play for them," he said. "It'll be a wonderful opportunity. But I just really want to represent the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and show that we have talented players, that we have a bright future here. I'm just the (one) this year, but soon to come we'll see a lot of guys in this locker room taking a trip to Hawaii."
Joseph is the second Bucs lineman to make the trip, following tackle Donald Penn's appearance last year as a replacement for Green Bay's Chad Clifton. Fellow tackle Jeremy Trueblood was delighted that his fellow lineman had earned the honor.
"Playing next to Davin all these years has made me a better football player," he said.
But Joseph, the 28-year-old from Hallandale, Fla., was taking it all in stride, focusing more on what next year may hold for the 4-11 Bucs, who hope to snap their nine-game losing streak Sunday in Atlanta to close the season.
"You look at the big picture," he said. "The big picture is that we have an outstanding quarterback. We have a lot of talent at receiver. We have an outstanding running back. It takes time. I'm going to be here for the long haul. And we've just got to keep on finding ways to go out on Sunday and give it your best."
It might just mean a trip to Hawaii.