Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Staying Sharp (August 18)

Looking to rebound from their last preseason effort, the Bucs wanted to keep a crisp week of practice going on Friday

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S Shevin Smith picked off two passes during practice

Though he's rarely critical in a specific manner after practice, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Head Coach will tell you if the session as a whole was sharp or not. This week, as his team has run through its preparations for Sunday's game in New England, Dungy has been increasing complimentary each day.

That continued on Friday. Describing his team's last full-scale workout as 'crisp' and 'encouraging', Dungy indicated that he fully expects a better effort against the Patriots than what his team delivered in Miami last Thursday. Offensive Coordinator Les Steckel also seemed upbeat, praising the offense extensively in mid-practice as they finished a critical walk-through period.

Tampa Bay will meet briefly Saturday morning for a final practice before boarding a plane for Massachusetts, but it will be short (45 minutes) and not too strenuous. The three-day period of Wednesday-Friday basically completed the team's onfield work for New England, which resembled a regular-season schedule much more than the previous two preseason weeks had.

"We've had the full week of preparation," said Dungy, "so we've looked at them and set it up just as you would a regular game. It obviously helps. The more you prepare, the more you work on what you're going to see in the game, the better you usually do. So we expect a little better execution this third game."

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The injury report didn't change significantly on Friday, but Dungy felt good about the overall health of his roster.

"We should have most of our guys going," said Dungy. "Guys that will not go: Chris Daniels, obviously; Damien Robinson; Dexter Jackson; John McLaughlin; Jason Odom; Tarig Holman; Floyd Young."

That means Shevin Smith will get his first start at free safety and will play deep into the contest. You could file this under 'Good Omen': Smith intercepted two passes in practice on Friday.

TE Patrick Hape continued to participate in various portions of practice on Friday and is looking more likely to get a little playing time on Sunday. Hape, recovering from offseason surgery for a foot fracture, missed the team's first two games and would probably be only a part-time player if he suits up against New England.

"We would like to (get Hape some snaps)," said Dungy. "We'll see how he is. We've got one more day, a light practice tomorrow. He seemed to come through today okay. We'd like to get him in there if he doesn't have any more problems with it.

"It's hard to say. We'll talk to (Head Trainer) Todd (Toriscelli) and monitor the situation. We'll have a set number of plays with him as we will have Mike (Alstott) and some of the guys that are just getting back."

Alstott has been an almost full participant in practice this week, but the team is still planning to be careful with their star runner, who is recovering from a hamstring strain. He'll go into the Patriot's game with a hard cap on his number of snaps.

"We haven't figured out that number is," said Dungy. "We'll probably make a decision tomorrow after practice, but it will probably be somewhere between 10 and 20 plays."

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Dungy has formed a good early impression of WR Andre Hastings, who signed with the team as a free agent on August 3, about a week and a half into training camp. Hastings, an eighth-year veteran who has played for Pittsburgh and New Orleans, is proving the value of experience, learning the Bucs' offense quickly.

"He has," confirmed Dungy. "He's a veteran guy that knows the game of football very well. He's smart. He's really got a great work ethic, and he's been very impressive in that regard."

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As was mentioned above, the injury report changed very little on Friday. T George Hegamin and LB Kinnon Tatum were upgraded from questionable to probable while FB Kevin McLeod was added to the report, also in the probable category. Though an official injury report is not required by the NFL until the regular season, the Buccaneers provided this list to the media:

CB Tarig Holman, hamstring, out S Dexter Jackson, ankle, out DE John McLaughlin, knee, out T Jason Odom, lower back, out S Damien Robinson, hamstring, out TE Patrick Hape, foot, questionable CB Floyd Young, ankle, questionable RB Mike Alstott, hamstring, probable DT James Cannida, shoulder, probable T George Hegamin, knee, probable FB Kevin McLeod, neck, probable RB Aaron Stecker, neck/hamstring, probable LB Kinnon Tatum, ankle, probable

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