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Bucs notes: Conditioning to be tested at mile-high Denver
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
The Bucs hope their Florida conditioning pays off in the high altitude at Sports Authority Field in Denver.
By ROY CUMMINGS | The Tampa Tribune
Published: November 29, 2012 - 3:35 PM
Playing a game against the Broncos in the mile-high city of Denver can have the same effect on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as taking a glance at the city's scenic Rocky Mountain surroundings.
It can take their breath away.
Located a mile above sea-level, the Broncos' home field has proven one of the most difficult venues for NFL opponents to win, and its breath-taking altitude is among the reasons.
Tampa Bay (6-5) plays at Denver (8-3) on Sunday.
"I played against (the University of) Colorado once or twice while I was in college, so I know,'' Bucs defensive end Michael Bennett said. "The altitude there makes a big difference. It's tough.
"Hopefully, we can get up there and get adjusted to it, but there's really no way to get adjusted to it. You just have to try to keep your breath and keep running and running.''
The Bucs have run a lot since the start of training camp, literally running from drill to drill during their up-tempo practice sessions in an effort to stay in the best possible physical condition. The goal is to stay fresh through four quarters of a game in the heat at Raymond James Stadium, but the benefits could extend to Denver.
"I think we're one of the best conditioned teams in the league, so I'm hoping we won't have any issues with the altitude once we get up there and start playing,'' defensive end Da'Quan Bowers said.
Even if the Bucs don't have issues, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said it's imperative that they stick to their plan to rotate players in and out of the lineup where and whenever possible.
"I've played up there in that altitude, too, and it (stunk),'' McCoy said. "Believe me, this is not the game to try to be Superman. If you can't breath or you're tired, come out, because it will catch up to you.
"We're going to need everybody to be as strong as possible going into that fourth quarter this week, because this game is going to go down to the wire. It's going to be a good one.''
Broncos QB Peyton Manning didn't see anything wrong with Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles asking him for an autograph after their game in Kansas City on Sunday. Several Bucs players agreed.
"There's a place for it, because a lot of people don't realize, a lot of us are young guys and these are players we look up to,'' Bennett said. "We're just as big a fans as anyone else out there.''
McCoy is fan of Patriots QB Tom Brady and got Brady's autograph while New England was in town for some joint practices with the Bucs during the preseason.
"But that was at practice, so that's different,'' McCoy said.
And the winner is
The Bucs went 3-1 in November to climb into the NFC playoff race. Two of the biggest contributors were recognized on Thursday, when LBs Lavonte David and Dekoda Watson were named the NFL's defensive rookie and the NFC's special teams player of the month, respectively.
David had 47 tackles and five tackles for loss. Watson blocked a punt that Adam Hayward returned for a touchdown against San Diego and had a fumble recovery that led to a touchdown against Carolina.
Bucs RB Doug Martin was named the NFL's offensive rookie of the month for October, making the Bucs only the fourth team in the history of the awards to have a rookie of the month on each side of the ball in the same season.
NT Roy Miller (illness) and C Ted Larsen (illness) returned to practice after sitting out Wednesday. …The Bucs' five remaining opponents have a .555 winning percentage, which ranks fourth behind the Vikings (.664), Giants (.582) and Saints (.564) among NFC teams within a game of the final playoff berth.
Roy Cummings, Ira Kaufman