Head Coach Tony Dungy thinks his team is ready for a game that, on paper, looks like a matchup of two powerhouses
It has been a week of nursing wounds at One Buccaneer Place, and we're not referring to the team's psyche. While the club has bounced back quickly from its last-minute loss to the New York Jets, a list of muscle pulls have taken a few extra days to heal.
The good news is that, on Friday, the training room emptied out fairly quickly after practice. All but one player, WR Reidel Anthony, participated in practice and even he was only held out for precautionary reasons.
"He basically went a little more (on Wednesday and Thursday) because Jacquez wasn't going early in the week," said Head Coach Tony Dungy. "So he got overworked a little bit, but we think everybody should be ready to go by Sunday."
Despite a rotating cast of characters and occasional shortages at receiver and defensive backs due to the injuries, Dungy was pleased with the week's work.
"I think we've had a good week of practice," he said. "I think we understand the importance of this game and how big it is. We've had some injured guys that have had to fight through some things, but we got most everybody back today and I think we're ready for a good game."
Dungy even gave his players a small break at the end of Friday's workout, skipping the two-minute offense segment that is supposed to cap practice. That is something the team had been doing for the past month, somewhat as a reward for victories. Though the Bucs didn't win this past Sunday, Dungy still felt, with the injuries and the good two-minute work on Thursday, that the session could be skipped this week as well.
After practice, the Buccaneers designated their Friday inactive players. While that is usually a list of four men that will not play in Sunday's game, this week it was only three names long as the Bucs' roster is currently at 52 players. The team has not signed an additional player after putting TE Blake Spence on injured reserve on Tuesday.
The Bucs' Friday inactives are RB Rabih Abdullah, S David Gibson and CB Floyd Young.
Dungy thinks his team has displayed a good attitude in practice and will not carry any after-effects from last week's loss into Sunday's game.
"Our guys understand how we do things," he said. "You have to prepare and get yourself ready. They know this is going to be a big game, and I think we've shaken off last week and we're practicing well. I think we've got a lot of guys that would have liked to have played Tuesday or Wednesday. That's the good thing about the NFL…you only get one a week and you have to make it count. I would expect us to come with a good performance."
Word out of Washington is that stellar young cornerback Champ Bailey may see some time on offense against Tampa Bay. That would not surprise Dungy, nor would another well-known defensive face in the offensive huddle.
"We expect to see Champ," said Dungy after the Bucs' Friday workout. "We may see Deion (Sanders) a little bit on offense. We know they like to go after big plays. Champ's been in there a little bit, so we expect to see him. He's a good athlete, he can catch the ball, he can get deep. We'll just have to be ready if he does come in."
Dungy indicated that Bailey's presence on offense is worth noting but won't change how the Buccaneers approach the game. That also would hold true if the Redskins make a switch under center and go with QB Jeff George.
"I would not foresee them going to Jeff George," said Dungy. "We've played against Jeff in the past. They don't really change their offense when he comes in, so we'll be defending their offense and not necessarily the quarterback."
The Redskins, of course, fared very well last Sunday in the Meadowlands with Johnson at the helm. Count Dungy among those that admire Johnson's work.
"Brad is a very, very smart guy," said Dungy. "He's very thorough in his preparation. He does exactly what the coach wants him to do and he doesn't make many mistakes. He's able to improvise and get the ball to the right people. He can move around. He's tough to sack because he's big but he's also a good athlete. He's just a very good quarterback."