Tampa Bay Buccaneers left tackle Donald Penn recently texted Josh Freeman to congratulate his quarterback upon learning Freeman was selected as one of the NFL's top 100 players.
Freeman and Bucs receiver Mike Williams recently received that Top 100 distinction for an NFL Network series – The Top 100: Players of 2011 – that airs every Sunday. NFL players voted Williams 83rd and Freeman 86th.
After congratulating Freeman, Penn made a pledge to himself.
"I'm going to make a lot of (general managers) mad this year. I've got a big ol' chip on my shoulder for not making the top 100," Penn said. "My biggest thing is at the end of my career, I want to be mentioned with the great left tackles. At the end of my career, I want to be mentioned with Derrick Brooks, Ronde Barber and John Lynch in Buccaneer history. That's all I want.
"My peers know. Well, I guess my peers don't know because they are the ones that voted. It's motivation. I love it."
Penn said he is just as motivated this offseason to prove his worth as in previous years.
Last year, Penn refused to sign a one-year tender and eventually received a six-year deal worth $43 million. Penn justified his contract by helping Tampa Bay finish 10-6 and going to the Pro Bowl.
Penn is currently playing in two California basketball leagues to stay in shape, but refuses to bang down low because he is worried about twisting an ankle. Despite constant concerns about his weight – Penn has a weight clause in his contract – he said he will be ready to play whenever the NFL lockout ends.
"I think every year I've come in, there hasn't been one question about Donald Penn when he's gotten there," Penn said. "I don't think (weight) will be an issue at all. It's never been an issue in the past. It's been an issue during the offseason, but when it's training camp, it's never been an issue.
"I always come in ready to play. This year I have to come into training camp really on my toes because we have two great young defensive ends."
In April, Tampa Bay drafted defensive ends Adrian Clayborn of Iowa and Da'Quan Bowers of Clemson with their top two picks.
Penn looks forward to spirited practices, but also wants right guard Davin Joseph there to enjoy the competition.
Joseph, a former first-round selection in 2006, could become a free agent after the lockout ends, but Penn is optimistic Tampa Bay will re-sign his friend.
"I think it's very important," Penn said. "The roles are reversed right now. I was in the same position last year and the year before because I was undrafted. Hopefully, he can learn from what I went through and what I did.
"Hopefully he doesn't have to go through what I went through. If he does, Davin is a great guy. He's going to make the right choices and the right decisions. We have to have that piece. He's a big piece of our offensive line. Just like they had to have a piece of me, they have to have a piece of that right guard because that's a big ol' piece of what we do as a team and an offensive line."
Penn didn't receive the same recognition as Freeman this offseason, but is optimistic the quarterback can give him something else in the future.
"I'm just looking forward to playing with that quarterback," Penn said, "because I know that guy is going to bring me a Super Bowl ring before my career is over."
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