TAMPA, Fla. -- Jeremiah Trotter doesn't want to talk about his abrupt departure from the Philadelphia Eagles anymore.
"That chapter of my life is closed. I'm moving forward now with my new team," the newest member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers said Wednesday.
"I'm excited to be here. I'm looking forward to jelling with everybody and making new friendships."
Trotter signed a one-year contract with the Bucs on Tuesday, two weeks after being released by the Eagles with three seasons remaining on a five-year, $15 million contract he signed in 2005.
The Bucs jumped at an opportunity to bring in Trotter, even though linebacker already was considered one of the team's strongest positions.
Third-year pro Barrett Ruud took over the starting middle linebacker job when Shelton Quarles retired after last season. Trotter -- at least initially -- will to try to carve a niche as a reserve.
"I think it's a shot in the arm for our team. He's not only been a great performer in the NFL, inside those doors he's a great leader," coach Jon Gruden said, adding he expects Trotter to be a good influence on some of the team's young defensive players.
"The quicker he learns our stuff, the quicker you'll see him on the field. In the meantime, he'll be a real good leader on our football team."
Trotter was released by the Eagles on Aug. 21 and worked out for Gruden, general manager Bruce Allen and defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin two days later. He was known in Philadelphia for his hard-hitting, physical style of play, and the Bucs are looking for more of the same.
"The bottom line is that we're not going to ask Jeremiah Trotter at this stage to change much about his game. He's here because of what he's put on film," Gruden said.
"He's a very good, physical middle linebacker who will help us. Just because he's not exactly like who's played here in the past doesn't mean that he can't play here."
Trotter scoffed at the notion that maybe he has lost a step.
"You're going to always have critics. You can't worry about what people say or what they think. You have to keep working hard, and when you get between those white lines hit somebody in the mouth," Trotter said. "That's the only thing I can control."
Quarterback Jeff Garcia was one of Trotter's teammates in Philadelphia last season. He welcomed his addition to the Bucs.
"He knows the game; he understands the game; he is very tenacious; he gets after it; he's a hitter; he's a guy who's going to bring intensity on the field," Garcia said. "He's going to push Barrett. He's going to make sure that the linebackers that are in there are doing their jobs, otherwise he's going to be ready to step in."
Ruud, who started five games while Quarles was slowed by injuries last season, said he didn't feel threatened by the move.
"I think he's a great addition. ... I've watched him for three years now, I've always watched him because the Eagles are in our conference and we see a lot of film on him," Ruud said. "He's definitely a good player."
Trotter said he had yet to talk to anyone about a specific role. For now, he's just concerned with learning the Bucs system.
"Xs and Os are Xs and Os. The biggest thing is the terminology," the 10th-year pro said. "Whatever they need me to do to help this team win, I'm ready to do."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved