LB Derrick Brooks and the Bucs' defense had a strong practice Wednesday
Last week, the Buccaneers strung together three very crisp practices on offense, according to Head Coach Tony Dungy, then followed with an explosive 37-14 effort against Kansas City to finish the preseason.
On Wednesday, the Bucs looked a little less sharp moving the ball, but that was at least somewhat due to a strong defensive performance. The Buccaneers are determined to stop Kevin Faulk and the New England Patriots' running attack.
"They've got a high-powered offense," said Dungy. "Terry Glenn and Troy Brown are two very good receivers. Kevin Faulk is a guy who can catch the ball out of the backfield and make big runs, as we saw when we played them. The key for us is going to be to stop the running game and then concentrate on stepping Bledsoe."
Dungy's message has gotten through to the Buc defenders.
"First things first, we have to stop the running game," said DT Warren Sapp. "That's always been our cry every week when we lined up. We're going to go out and stop this running game, then get to the quarterback when the opportunity presents itself."
The Bucs needed good practice performances Aaron Stecker and Rabih Abdullah, who were serving as scout players representing the Patriots' offense, because the New England rushing attack can be confusing.
"This isn't a traditional Power-O, Counter-O type of team," said Sapp. "They do a lot of different things to spread you and eliminate our eighth man in the box. We've got to be sound in what we're doing up front and have our linebackers hit the run where they're supposed to, and put them on the ground."
Second-string quarterback Eric Zeier didn't practice on Wednesday but the Bucs are not worried about his Sunday game status.
Zeier woke up early Wednesday morning with pain in his left foot, and quickly recognized it as a form of tendonitis he had encountered in that foot below. He had difficulty putting any pressure on it in the morning and was quickly ruled out of Wednesday's practice. However, Head Trainer Todd Toriscelli said that Zeier had made significant progress as the day progressed, and he expects Zeier to be ready to return to practice on Thursday.
Zeier has suffered from this same injury on several other occasions, including twice with the Baltimore Ravens. He indicated on Wednesday that it generally takes one to two days to heal sufficiently. Zeier was added to the injury report as 'probable' and could even be removed later in the week if the pain is completely gone."
Other than Zeier, S Dexter Jackson was the only Buccaneer not to practice on Wednesday. S Eric Vance, just re-acquired on Monday, joined the team for the first time in 2000. Vance played parts of each of the last two seasons with Tampa Bay.