Keyshawn Johnson was one of the few Buc receivers able to practice on Wednesday
At one point during the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' seven-on-seven drill in practice on Wednesday afternoon, Defensive Backs Coach Herman Edwards had to call for a sudden change on the play sheet.
The sheet called for the Bucs to put a dime defense on the field against a certain formation. Edwards explained in a hurry that the Bucs couldn't actually field a dime defense against a four-wide spread on Wednesday. They didn't have enough defensive backs.
The Buccaneers' injury report released earlier Wednesday, was seven players deep and it included three receivers (Reidel Anthony, Jacquez Green and Andre Hastings) and two cornerbacks (Ronde Barber and Floyd Young). With the exception of Hastings (dislocated finger) all of those players were sidelined on Wednesday by muscle pulls.
"We think we're going to be fine by game time, but our receivers and DB corps were a little bit depleted," said Head Coach Tony Dungy on Wednesday. "We've got some hamstring strains that we're just trying not to make any worse."
Most of those injuries occurred in Sunday's game, in which a heavy pre-game downpour lasted into the first quarter and thoroughly soaked the Raymond James Stadium.
"We had a few guys that were complaining after the game," said Dungy. "I think running so much in the heavy weather and on the heavy ground may have caused some of that. We have about four or five guys that we rested today that we think will be ready by Friday."
Indeed, all seven of the players on the Bucs' injury report were listed as probable, meaning the team thinks it's likely that each will play. It would be nice if they could practice, as well. On Wednesday, practice squad CB Anthony Midget was pressed into running passing routes for the scout team offense.
The Buccaneers' workout on Wednesday was the team's first since Sunday's heartbreaker, in which the team lost an 11-point lead in the closing minutes and lost 21-17 to the New York Jets.
While the team has insisted since Monday that they've put that game behind them, a chance to hit the field for a full-scale practice certainly helped the players move on.
"I think we realize that the only way we're going to forget about last week is to head up to Washington and play well, win the game," said LB Jamie Duncan after practice. "The only way we're going to do that is if it starts out here in practice, and I thought our focus was good today."
Dungy didn't perceive much of a difference in today's workout, as compared to the previous weeks.
"Just a normal Wednesday," said Dungy. "Trying to learn the Redskins and get ready for them, and put our game plan into practice."
The Bucs generally use Wednesday to start on the run defense for the week, and that was particularly important on this day as the team prepares for Redskin RB Stephen Davis.
"Stephen Davis is a big part of what Washington does," said Dungy. "They have some unique plays for him and that was a big part of our defensive day."
Davis is a prototypical 'big back', a 235-pounder who combines power with speed to produce a very tough runner to bring down. It's a familiar refrain, but the Bucs feel that they must first stop Davis before they can control the Redskins' attack.
"Any time you've got a good offensive team like Washington, the focus is going to be on stopping the run and making them one-dimensional," said Duncan. "That's the way to kill a two-headed monster that runs and passes the ball, making it one dimensional."
Of course, the Bucs have to practice stopping Davis without actually making any tackles. How can you emulate bringing down a big back when you have to stop short of tackle in practice?
"It's just a matter of everybody getting it into their mind that they're going to be physical and everybody's going to get to the ball," said Duncan. "It's the responsibility of all 11 guys on the field, corners, safeties, linebackers and defensive linemen. It's definitely a team effort. We need everybody to tackle well if we're going to contain him."