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Martin Fennelly Columns

Fennelly: Dashon ready to soar with Bucs secondary

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Published:   |   Updated: August 22, 2013 at 05:56 AM

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Hawk is ready to help Bucs’ secondary soar

TAMPA — Bucs defensive back Ahmad Black, a joyful soul, chirped about the looming season, about something shiny and new in a secondary that sprouted mold in 2012, statistically dead-last in the NFL.

Bucs second-year safety Mark Barron, not one to talk, spoke of a different kind of season, between newcomers and guys like him being a year older and wiser and removed from last season’s nightmare.

“We most definitely want to show everybody that we’re one of the best secondaries in the league,” Barron said.

One of the best secondaries in the league?

Yes, he said that.

“We want to flip that around completely, go from last to first,” Barron said.

That’s where Darrelle Revis comes in.

“And ‘The Hawk,’ ” Ahmad Black said.

The Hawk? The Hawk, for ball hawk, was a few lockers down.

One of the best secondaries in the league?

“We accept it,” Dashon Goldson said. “This isn’t the secondary they had last year. I think we can get it done.”

Goldson, 6 feet, 2 inches and 200 pounds of Bring It at safety, has helped infuse such confidence.

Yes, he’s the other guy. The free agent two-time Pro Bowler didn’t come here for as big a deal as Revis, though it was big enough, and he doesn’t cast a star like Revis.

He doesn’t mind.

“Not at all,” Goldson said with a smile. “I’m here to play football, not win a popularity contest.”

This Hawk aims to flap his wings just the same.

He did in those Pro Bowl seasons for the 49ers. He did when he flattened Bucs receiver Mike Williams two seasons ago. He did last season, on Monday night, national feed, when he pulverized Arizona Cardinals receiver Early Doucet. Good, clean hits. The Hawk brings it, a lot.

But what, exactly, will it mean in 2013?

Goldson might free Barron up, let him play closer to the line, like he did as a star at Alabama.

“I’m not the smartest, but I definitely know a lot, and I’m here to help him, to get him on the stage where he wants to be,” Goldson said.

But can Goldson shut down open threats, a last line of defense back there at safety.

We’re still not sure that’s his style.

He has 15 NFL interceptions in six seasons, plus he has that nickname, and then there’s what he says:

“The big hit is more of a momentum thing ... to start the fire, but first and foremost is getting that ball back and getting our offense the opportunity to put points on the board. I’ll take that interception over everything.”

But is the man an all-out cover guy?

We’ll know soon enough.

Bucs coach Greg Schiano sees leadership.

“He’s a very strong personality, in a good way,” Schiano said. “(He) gets along with everybody, yet he’s got the credibility from what he’s done in his career that when he speaks, people listen. So they can hang out and be friendly, but when he puts the hammer down as the boss, they listen.”

Goldson’s teammates love his swagger and all-in emotion.

“I ain’t going to lie. I got a few penalties because of that,” Goldson said with a grin.

The man has been fined for taunting, for hitting a sliding quarterback. And last season, he was nailed for a helmet-to-helmet number on a Patriots tight end: Aaron Hernandez.

What’s not to like?

Goldson also has paid out to his fastidious league, thousands of dollars, for uniform violations, socks all wrong, pants not right, oh, that crazy kid. Still ...

“I’m always tuned in,” Goldson said. “I turn into a different player when I get on that football field. I’m Dashon off the field and The Hawk on the field. When it’s time to go, it’s time to go.”

He talks about the Doucet hit ...

“I remember him coming across the middle. (He) thought he was free … and I came down the hole and hit him, on a Monday night live. I just Hawked it afterward, spread the wings.”

He loved that moment.

“You’re licking those chops, for sure.”

Quarterbacks and receivers did that all last season against the Bucs secondary.

Comes now The Hawk.

It’s time to go.

And how.

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