Bucs head coach Bruce Arians has been coaching in the NFL for over 30 years, but a team this special can still surprise him. On Sunday, Arians gave players the option of a fully-padded practice or wearing just helmets and shoulder pads. To his surprise, the team opted to get fully-geared up in preparation for Week 1.
“I really love how we started the week,” Arians said. “First time I ever asked players ‘should we put pads on?’, and they said, ‘yes’, because of practice the other day. It was like, ‘whoa’. So it was really great to see it. Great speed to the practice. Both of our scout teams did a hell of a job of giving great pictures (to the starters).”
Bucs head coach Bruce Arians – Photo by: USA Today
Most players can’t wait to doff the pads for practice, but the Bucs seem determined to maintain the physical pace until Thursday. That’s when they’ll host the visiting Dallas Cowboys in the season opener. Expectations are sky-high for the Bucs, and their focus and concentration has been on point since the preseason ended.
“Inside, practices were really physical (last week),” Arians said. “So I said, ‘should we put pads on for Sunday?’. And they said, ‘yeah’. Just for our protection. It was a very, very good practice.”
The Cowboys may have finished last season with a losing record, but this is a different team than a year ago. Their offensive is much healthier than last year, especially with the return of Dak Prescott. Offensive tackles Tyron Smith and La’El Collins should be good to go on Thursday, after missing most or all of last season. Elite offensive guard Zack Martin will miss the game on the COVID list, but the Cowboys offense will still be one of Tampa Bay’s toughest tests all season.
Jon Ledyard is PewterReport.com's newest Bucs beat writer and has experience covering the Pittsburgh Steelers as a beat writer and analyzing the NFL Draft for several draft websites, including The Draft Network. Follow Ledyard on Twitter at @LedyardNFLDraft
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