When veteran center Jeff Faine caught wind of criticism from Bucs fans and bloggers decrying his absence from the player-only workouts he earlier mocked, he wrote an open letter to the St. Petersburg Times vowing to attend upcoming practices.
"I don't typically respond to blogs but I found it necessary to respond to a recent post when my dedication to my team and the quality of my character as a captain was questioned," Faine wrote. "The Buccaneers fans deserve to hear the truth directly from me. There is nothing more I'd rather be doing than going through the offseason program and preparing for the upcoming season with my teammates on our journey to compete for a championship."
"You're not going to see Josh Freeman and our receiving corps down at the University of Tampa soccer field," Faine told the Times. "They might go out there and run some routes and throw. But you're talking about getting an entire receiving corps together being able to work against an entire defensive backs corps. It's just not going to happen."
Faine also spoke to WQYK-AM this week, according to the Times, saying: "I guess they wanted me to come snap the ball a little bit and block air. But I decided my time was best served in the weight room than making sure that our snaps were still good."
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"Back in February when I was asked about the feasibility of organizing player workouts, I wasn't questioning Josh Freeman's ability as a leader, I was more saying how difficult it will be for any individual to logistically get the entire team together for an offseason program comparable to one organized by the Buccaneers. If I wasn't clear on that matter, I apologize.
"I can assure you that my dedication to my team, the Buccaneers organization and the Tampa community has never wavered. I take pride in sharing not only football experience, but life skills and business knowledge that my teammates can use after their football careers end. This quality is why I have been voted a captain the past three years. It would be tough to find a player in this league that wears that captain's patch with more pride."
Faine, who has started 36 games for the Bucs since joining the team in 2008, appearing in eight last season, promised fans he would be a presence at future team workouts.
"As Josh well knows, the relationship between a center and the quarterback is of utmost importance and he knows that I support him completely in his efforts to prepare during the lockout. Although I missed the first three days of field work in Tampa because of prior commitments, I will be part of future sessions to build team camaraderie. As professionals, we are all accountable for our training and preparation regardless of where we live in the off season. I can assure you I will do all I can to continue to build on our team success from last season."