On Thursday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' newest player will pull on a team baseball cap for the first time.
When will an actual helmet go on? Look to Tuesday for that answer.
The National Football League has a big week in store, beginning with the announcement of the 2010 regular-season schedule on Tuesday evening. Two days later, the first round of the '10 draft will take place, putting the league's two biggest offseason events practically back-to-back.
The NFL announced on Wednesday that the schedule for next fall is on the horizon. All 256 regular-season games will be revealed during a two-hour special on NFL Network next Tuesday, April 20. The show begins at 7:00 p.m. ET, and that's precisely when Buccaneers.com will announce Tampa Bay's 2010 slate.
Which team will the Bucs draw for their opener, and will it be at Raymond James Stadium for just the fourth time in the last 11 years? Are there any prime-time games in Tampa Bay's near future? When will the bye week fall? Will the intra-division games against Atlanta, Carolina and New Orleans be front-loaded, back-loaded or scattered throughout the year?
All these questions and more will be resolved in less than a week. Buc fans with a wider NFL interest will also get answers to many other questions, such as which team will play the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints in the first regular-season game? Who's headed to Dallas and Detroit for Thanksgiving and where will the third Turkey Day game be played? Who's headed to the new stadium in New York on the opening weekend. When will Donovan McNabb head back to Philly?
To see more than just the Bucs' slate as soon as the league announcement is made, fans should head to NFL.com for the entire schedule. The site will include a new interactive application giving fans a voice through fan forums, rating the schedules and answering poll questions.
Two days after the schedule announcement, the league will begin the 75th "annual NFL player selection" process in its history and one of the most hotly anticipated drafts in recent memory. It is certainly a critical draft for the Buccaneers, who own the third overall choice, four of the first 67 selections and a total of 11 picks overall.
The first round will be conducted on Thursday evening, marking the first time the draft broadcast will begin in prime time. The round begins at 7:30 p.m. ET and the Bucs pick third (barring trades); since each pick has a time limit of 10 minutes, Tampa Bay will be on the clock at 7:50 at the latest, and probably well before that.
The second and third rounds of the draft will begin at 6:00 p.m. ET on Friday, with each team getting a maximum of seven minutes per pick in Round Two and five per pick in Round Three. The Buccaneers own the third and 10th picks of the second round (numbers 35 and 42 overall) and the third choice of the third round (number 67 overall).
The NFL expects Thursday's first round to conclude by approximately 11:00 p.m. ET, and Friday's two rounds to be over by roughly 10:30 p.m. ET. The final four rounds will take place on Saturday, April 24, beginning at 10:00 a.m. ET.