TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - If Derrick Brooks didn't take his job so seriously, he might be amused by questions about whether an aging defense is still good enough to get the Tampa Bay Buccaneers back to the playoffs.
But after the so-called graybeards answered skeptics by helping the Bucs win the NFC South a year ago, Brooks, who turned 35 in April and is entering his 14th season, says that soon they will have to start using other words to describe them.
The Bucs have led the NFL in fewest yards allowed twice and ranked among the top 10 statistically 10 times in a dozen seasons under defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. They were second a year ago after sagging to 17th in 2006, when Tampa Bay finished 4-to-12 - their worst record since 1991.
And while there's a perception that the defense is getting up in age, there are just four starters 30 and over, with tackle Chris Hovan and end Kevin Carter joining Brooks and Barber in that group.
And what may surprise people even more, Brooks says, is how the Bucs are getting the job done these days.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)