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Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Donald Penn having Pro Bowl season

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

TAMPA, Fla. -- During the 2008 and 2009 seasons, Tampa Bay offensive tackle Jeremy Trueblood provided fodder for an automatic weekly post. When ESPN Stats & Information would send out the updated list of false start penalties, I’d scan it and do a quick update on where Trueblood stood among the league leaders, mainly because Trueblood always was among the league leaders.

That’s not the case this year and it probably has a lot to do with the fact that Trueblood has started only seven games. He only has two false start penalties this season. But the more amazing thing might be that Tampa Bay left tackle Donald Penn, who was snubbed in Pro Bowl voting, does not appear anywhere on the list of the 144 guys around the NFL who have been called for at least two false starts.

It’s pretty amazing when a starting left tackle can go this far into a season with less than two false starts. I had the Bucs check with their coaches and they said Penn has been called for one false start. They even gave a little bit more evidence of how strong a season Penn has had. He’s been called for only one holding penalty and has given up three sacks.

Throw in the facts that, despite a slew of injuries across the rest of the offensive line, Penn has protected quarterback Josh Freeman and paved the way for rookie running back LeGarrette Blount to emerge as a force and I'm willing to say Penn should be in the Pro Bowl.

Actually Atlanta left tackle Sam Baker doesn’t appear on the list either. That’s nice, but I’m not ready to put Baker anywhere near Penn in any other category.

As a division, the NFC South has fared pretty well when it comes to false start penalties. The league leaders are Ryan Diem and Michael Oher with eight false starts and there are a bunch of guys with seven.

The NFC South leader is New Orleans left tackle Jermon Bushrod with six and Carolina’s Geoff Schwartz has four.

James Lee, who sometimes has replaced Trueblood as the starting right tackle, has three false starts and that ties him with Carolina left tackle Jordan Gross and Carolina tight end Jeff King.

The NFC South players who have been called for two false starts are Carolina center Ryan Kalil, New Orleans guard Jahri Evans, Carolina fullback Tony Fiammetta, Atlanta tight end Justin Peelle, Carolina receiver David Gettis, Carolina guard Travelle Wharton and Tampa Bay guard Davin Joseph.