LB Derrick Brooks and the Buccaneers practiced in chilly weather on Friday afternoon and will head to an even worse clime in the evening
Because of inclement weather expected to hit the Philadelphia area this weekend, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have decided to alter their travel plans.
The Buccaneers are now scheduled to leave One Buccaneer Place for Tampa International Airport on Friday evening at 8:15 p.m. The team is expected to arrive at Philadelphia International Airport at 11:30 p.m. Tampa Bay had originally planned to fly to Philadelphia on Saturday afternoon.
The front about to encroach on Philadelphia and the rest of the Northeast could be severe enough to close airports in the region, according to the Bucs' charter airline. Snowfall of eight to 14 inches is possible and it is considered almost 100 percent certain that there will be some precipitation.
"That's what Northwest Airlines is telling us," said Dungy. "Our preference would be to go tomorrow, but they're saying if we wait until tomorrow, we may not be able to land anywhere close. So we're going to go and see if we can get there before the weather comes in."
While the change in plans certainly requires a bit of scrambling on the part of coaches and players, Dungy does not expect it to have an adverse affect on his team's preparation.
"It won't be a distraction," he said. "The tough thing is just getting the message to the families. Everyone was anticipating going tomorrow, so that's always a little bit difficult, people with kids and trying to get that taken care of."
He doesn't plan on giving his players any motivational speeches in regard to the unusual travel plans. "I don't think they really need any thoughts," said Dungy. "You're in the playoffs and it's win and work another week, lose and you go home. That's about all you need in the playoffs."
The Bucs will hold their normal Saturday morning walk-through in a ballroom at the team's Philadelphia hotel.
Meanwhile, the weather in Tampa continued to deteriorate, sliding from sunny and mild on Wednesday to chilly and wet on Thursday to downright cold on Friday afternoon. The constantly changing conditions, as well as last Sunday's game in frigid Green Bay, is offering the Bucs plenty of opportunities to prepare for Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium.
"This was good work for us today, to get some bad weather work in," said Dungy.
The Buccaneers made one Friday change to their injury report, downgrading DE Marcus Jones to questionable. Jones, originally listed as probable due to a foot sprain, has not practiced this week and is not likely to be available on Sunday.
"Right now it looks like Marcus and Jeff Gooch probably won't be able to go, so we're still going to wait and see on that," said Dungy. "Other than that, everybody else did okay today."
That means Thursday's evaluation of the team's other injured players – Derrick Brooks, Alshermond Singleton, Pete Pierson, Steve White, Jamie Duncan and Shaun King – remains valid. All are expected to play, even if they are not quite 100 percent healthy. Each of those six players practiced on Friday without incident.
Later in the afternoon, both Jones and Gooch were deactivated as part of the Bucs' mandatory four Friday inactives. The other two players deactivated on Friday were RB Aaron Stecker and WR Frank Murphy.