Just before Wednesday's practice ended, a freak dust storm blew over the facility and obscured vision for about 10 minutes
It has been said that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers gain an advantage over their northern visitors early in the season because they train in the same heat that envelopes games in Tampa. By that theory, the Bucs should be ready for just about anything short of a monsoon this Sunday.
Tampa Bay's practice was nearly halted by an electrical storm, eventually devolved into its usual sweltering affair, then finished with limited visibility under an unusual dust cloud.
"We got it all today," said Head Coach Tony Dungy. "We had the heat and humidity, we had the lightning early, then we had the wind and the sand storm at the end. So we got to practice in all of the elements, which was good."
As practice began, the Bucs decided to forge on despite some lightning that concerned the players after Dungy counted the seconds between light and sound and determined that the lightning was 'out in Lakeland'. He counted 18 seconds between the two clues and the Bucs pushed on, the correct decision, as it turned out, since the clouds broke and let in 95% heat and very high humidity.
After wading through that for two hours, the Bucs were in their final few minutes of the workout when a sudden wind brought dust over from a nearby construction site.
Though Pro Bowl safety John Lynch watched from the sideline, Dungy felt good about his team's health on the first day of preparation for Sunday's home game against Chicago. Dungy expects Lynch, who is suffering from a thigh bruise caused by a Patriots helmet on Sunday, to return to the field on Thursday.
Floyd Young, who raised some concern with a hamstring pull on Sunday in Foxboro, has recovered nicely and was able to practice today. He is listed as probable on the Bucs' injury report, as is WR Karl Williams, who also made it through today's practice without incident. Williams has a mild shoulder sprain.
The health issue with the biggest impact on Wednesday was no injury but a virus that is making the rounds. RB Warrick Dunn missed part of practice due to flu symptoms, in fact. "We actually have a little flu bug going through," said Dungy, with an apt choice of words. "Keyshawn had it, Warrick, a couple of other guys. It's more a stomach virus than anything else right now."
For at least the near future, veteran guard Randall McDaniel will continue to see spot duty at fullback. Though it is not the ideal solution in Dungy's eyes to the Bucs' void at that position, the team does feel comfortable with McDaniel's ability to get the job done. Both Dungy and Offensive Line Coach Chris Foerster witnessed McDaniel doing the same thing for the Vikings when the two were assistant coaches in Minnesota.
"It's not something that we planned," said Dungy, "but with Kevin's situation and everything that transpired, we're just trying to get the best people in. Those are going to be some critical plays on the goal lines and on third-and-ones. We just felt, overall, our best way to go was to put Cosey in, and Randall, and go with the guys that are most comfortable at that point."
Eventually, the Bucs might find some other people to plug into that limited fullback role, but for now, the team will stick with McDaniel. "We will until Blake and Rabih get comfortable at those other spots," Dungy said. "We'd like to phase Randall out of it, but right now he'll probably continue to work there."
The upside is that the 287-pound lineman is capable of delivering a rather substantial block if the timing is right.
"It's something to see when we get the right play on at the right time," said Dungy.