Lynch's decision not to wear long sleeves in Green Bay had little to do with the cold
Okay, you're a Tampa Bay Buccaneer and you're stranded in a Philadelphia hotel all day Saturday, thanks to a monstrous snow storm. Here are your choices: you can watch the Saturday Wild Card games, you can walk around the adjacent mall, you can read your playbook, or you can do an interview.
Okay, maybe that last one wouldn't be your selection but, really, there's not much going on. A pair of Pro Bowlers, safety John Lynch and DT Warren Sapp, were willing to turn away from the playoffs for a few minutes to share their thoughts roughly one day before the Bucs begin their own postseason run.
John, are you concerned about the possibility of playing without Derrick Brooks, should he aggravate his shoulder injury?
"You can't overestimate the loss when Derrick is out. He's going to play, but he's hurt and if he takes a hit dead-on he could be out. The guy's filled in did a pretty good job for him. And we're going to miss Marcus (Jones) because he's a very good rusher, but fortunately we rotate those guys a lot anyway. Steve (White) started for us last year and has been a very productive player."
Any chance Brooks won't play, Warren, and if he does will an early hit take him out?
"He's going. If he doesn't I'll shoot him. He's going to take a freak hit on it, trust me. It just happens. Whatever it is, if you have a nick or a cut or something, you find a way to hit it. We're going to find out real early if he's able to go."
Warren, you don't seem to thrilled about the thought of playing without Brooks?
"I don't like to go to war without him. That's my highway patrolman. There's nine hundred miles of highway, and he's covering all of them. There's no way you can hide from him. He's going to find you. We've always had a rule: I'll eat the double-teams on first and second down if you get me to third down. That's how we work. It's a partnership. Get me to third down and I'll take it from there."
Warren, it seems like you and Derrick are often on the same side of the field in the defensive formation?
"Monte's bright enough to figure out that it's tough on the other team when you have your two best players lined up there back-to-back. What are you going to do? If you stay on me, then he runs and makes the play. Or you try to get off on him, and I go in the back door and make the play. It's like picking your poisons. Sometimes, we swap over. In certain nickel situations, I'm on one side and he's on the other, then Lynch is behind me. Now it's really pick your poison."
What else does Brooks do for the defense, John?
"He and Ronde Barber in the middle package really cover the entire middle of the field, the way we play our nickel package. Those guys have to make some tough tackles, and they make it look routine. Those are two very tough players."
Speaking of tough guys, we notice you didn't wear long sleeves under your jersey last week in Green Bay. We're you trying to prove something?
"I guess everyone thought I was trying to be a tough guy, but I've never worn sleeves. I've tried to do it a couple times in the preseason because we were playing on turf and you get turf burns. But the last time, I missed my first two tackles and I went to the sidelines and cut off my sleeves and I've never worn them again. I just don't like wearing them. The linebackers didn't wear them, either, but I think they kind of had a pact together."
Did the team's fine performance as the temperature dropped in Green Bay belie the cold-weather myth or will we still be hearing about that tomorrow?
"I think we're going to hear that until we do something to it. I think there's probably something to it. Living in Florida, you get cold, your fingers hurt. One good thing, we've had some experience in the last couple of years playing in some cold-weather games. You talk to the guys in cold-weather cities and, although they're living in it, they don't practice in it. They're not out in it. I don't think that had anything to do with the game last week."
Warren, do you remember your thoughts when Donovan McNabb first came into last year's Bucs-Eagles game?
"We expected a much quicker, faster guy, but defensively we were going to do the same things. It became a little more difficult to keep him in the pocket, because you're used to one guy's style of running, then all of a sudden…like the say, you never know how fast a Porsche is until it goes by you. But we got him six times. We've never been bothered by a mobile quarterback. The one thing we've got to do with this guy is keep him in the pocket and make him be a quarterback."
Will you be facing a different protection group this year, Warren?
"We came out and rushed them real well (last year). Their O-line was different than it is now. Number 74 was starting, Mayberry was at tackle and Runyan wasn't there. Other than that, not much. Tra Thomas is the best player they've got, Runyan's playing well and Mayberry has moved inside."
Okay, thanks guys. Now get back to the game.