Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Buccaneers Adapting to "Sudden Change"

Players on both sides of the Tampa Bay-Washington game that was moved to Wednesday night are making the necessary adjustments but are happy they still get one final audition before roster cuts.

A collection of the best pictures taken during the Buccaneers' 2016 Training Camp.

Football coaches call it "sudden change:" an unplanned development in a game that requires adjustments on the fly. The most obvious example is a turnover deep in a team's own territory, which rather suddenly throws the defense into a tough situation.

"Football's all about adjustments," said Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Mike James. "You're just trying to adjust to whatever comes and how you've got to do it."

This week, Buccaneer players are dealing with sudden change on a macro level. Thanks to the expected landfall of a massive tropical storm on Thursday, the Buccaneers and Washington Redskins agreed to move their final preseason game from that evening to Wednesday night. And thanks to the often unpredictable weather patterns in the Bay area, even that drastic shift might not get the teams out of the rain completely.

The Buccaneers' 53-Man roster.

The change was announced late Monday evening, compressing an already short schedule for both teams. The Buccaneers still conducted their planned practice on Tuesday afternoon – one of only two field sessions in preparation for the preseason capper – but now won't have Wednesday for a final walk-through and a chance to rest. The same is true for the Redskins, of course, but with a revised travel schedule added on top.

"It's nice to have as much time as you can to prepare for an opponent," said tight end Cameron Brate. "But, you know, they have as much time as we do, it's up a day for them, too. It kind of sucks as far as preparation goes but it doesn't really give one team an advantage."

The date change isn't exactly convenient for players on either side, but it's better than the alternative. Had the game remained on Thursday night, there was a chance it would have been cancelled and that would have been a tough pill to swallow for many young players. Both teams are likely to devote most of the playing time to younger players who are still battling for jobs. Calling off the final audition would have been a significant lost opportunity for those NFL hopefuls.

Pictures of Buccaneers' Cheerleaders during Training Camp 2016.

"There are a lot of jobs on the line," said cornerback Jude Adjei-Barimah. "Everybody here is trying to make a roster, trying to make this team, and this last preseason game is very important to a lot of us. We've got to be able to go out there and put on film [the results of] all our hard work throughout camp and be able to be evaluated by the organization. It's very important that we get ourselves ready to go and come out here and play a clean game.

As a starter, Brate may not play at all on Thursday, and while Adjei-Barimah is likely to get his share of reps he also appears to have a pretty solid foothold on the 53-man roster. Others such as James are involved in position battles that remain undecided. Head Coach Dirk Koetter referenced the competition to back up Doug Martin and Charles Sims on Monday and said there is, "still some work to be done there." James sat out the third preseason game with a minor injury, and while it's not clear yet whether he will return for Game Four, he obviously would like another opportunity to show what he can do.

"I feel like it's always important to be out there," said James. "You're never done doing what you need to do. I think everybody here knows that. There's never a lock, it's never solidified. I have to come out and show myself every single day, and I have no problem with that."

James doesn't have much of a problem with the sudden change of playing on Wednesday night, either. In fact, it sounds as if he and his teammates weren't terribly surprised by the decision.

"No matter how these things go, you've always got to be ready to play," he said. "Looking at it from this weekend and later on into the week, you kind of knew something was going to happen if the storm didn't turn. It's an adjustment we have to make as a team, not only me. Everybody has to make the adjustment. I'm excited to see what's going to happen."

And if Wednesday night proves to be wet, too, just to a lesser degree, that will simply be another adjustment that players on both sidelines will have to make. Defensive tackle Akeem Spence might even enjoy the chance to play in those conditions.

"Being in Tampa so long you know it can rain at any point in the day and then be sunny 30 seconds after that," said Spence. "You know you're going to get a heavy run game [if it rains], you know the ball is going to be slippery, a higher chance of turnovers. So, yeah, I like playing in the rain. I don't mind it. You've just got to be able to adapt, get ready and go out there and play in the game."

That aforementioned turnover deep in a team's own territory requires an immediate reaction. Individual defenders might have been sitting on the bench studying video and still images of the previous drive. Some might be discussing strategy or simply trying to get their legs back under them. Suddenly, they're rushing out onto the field and into a critical situation. Once everyone is hurriedly in place, however, it's still the same challenge as ever.

That's the way Buccaneers players are reacting to the move of this week's game to Wednesday night: Make the necessary adjustments and then play ball.

"Everybody expected to play the game on Thursday, so maybe it affects the little pregame routine that everybody has," said Adjei-Barimah. "You have to alter it a little bit. But at the end of the day, once the ball is snapped you've got to be ready to play, you've got to be ready to go, and the fact that they moved the game up should not be an excuse. I feel like in the grand scheme of things nothing really changes."

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