Jerry Wunsch and the Bucs expected storm clouds to move in on Wednesday, but they held off
Either the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' luck is really good, or there weather service is really bad.
For at least the fourth time since the regular season began, the Bucs went into the afternoon on Wednesday believing that local storms would rearrange their schedule. And, once again, the day went off without a hitch.
Though a light rain was beginning just as the team left the field at approximately 4:00 p.m., the team made it through practice in its entirety. Head Coach Tony Dungy wasn't glowing about the day's effort, but he was positive.
"It was a pretty good day," said Dungy. "The rain held off and we got all of our work in. I think the guys are excited about this week.
"All we heard was that there was a 70% chance of rain. We thought that we might have to move the schedule around, but as you can see, the rain held off."
That was good news for most of the team, maybe not so great for CB Ronde Barber. Barber felt a 'twinge' in his right quad midway through the workout and was held out until the end. Barber was in the training room after practice and was added to the injury report, but it's not considered serious and Dungy believes Barber will be fine for the game on Sunday.
One other Buc failed to finish practice, but this absence was prearranged. RB Rabih Abdullah left at around 3:30 in order to visit the dentist and have a tooth pulled. The only appointment Abdullah could line up was at 4:00 p.m. The only other player not to participate was S David Gibson, who has a foot sprain. Dungy said on Monday that Gibson could be ready for the Jets game, though he as a torn ligament in his foot.
As usual, the Bucs spent a portion of Wednesday's practice on goal line drills. However, there might have been a little added emphasis on that situation after the Bucs' failure to get the ball into the end zone on one memorable drive in Detroit last Sunday.
Overall, the Bucs are thriving near the goal line, ranking first in the league in red zone touchdown percentage (81.8%). They have successfully used a variety of options inside the 20, including Keyshawn Johnson, Mike Alstott, Shaun King and Warrick Dunn. That one drive, however, has stuck in their minds.
"We try to keep people off balance," said Dungy. "I think our guys have done a good job of mixing it up. We've thrown down there (in the red zone). It depends on what defense you see. We'd still like to run it in…we're disappointed that we couldn't get it in from the one (at Detroit)."
Media-wise, Wednesday afternoon at One Buccaneer Place was dominated by the Keyshawn Johnson Angle. To ease the anticipated crush of requests in the locker room, Johnson held a pre-planned press conference in the team's press room, an event attended by a large contingent of New York media representatives.
That helped to create a buzz around the building, even if the Johnson story isn't terribly interesting to the rest of the team.
"It's kind of nice to have that energy in the building," said Dungy, attributing that feeling to the relative importance of such an early game. "That's the way you want it. We had our share of games in 1996 that didn't matter to anyone.
"We're playing a team that has won 10 of its last 12 games. We're playing for first in our division…we've got a chance to go ahead of Minnesota by a half-game. We're playing at home. There's a lot, internally, for us to play for."