When the Bucs’ 2006 schedule was unveiled in April, it was hard for players not to look at the month of November and wonder how it would feel to play a stretch of three games in 11 days.
This upcoming week figures to be a particular strain on both players and coaches, playing a home game against Washington on Sunday, then turning around and flying off to Dallas for a Thanksgiving meal with the Cowboys.
“I was with Green Bay when we played the Lions on Thanksgiving,” said Bucs head coach Jon Gruden said. “Really, I just stunned at the quickness in which we played the games. We have a schedule that’s a bit bizarre.”
Gruden plans to give his players the day off Monday, practice Tuesday, then it’s on the plane to Dallas Wednesday.
He and his coaching staff will be pulling extra duty, though. They began dissecting the Cowboys after Friday’s practice, with a little more planned for Saturday, with more to come following Sunday’s matchup against the Redskins.
LEGGING IT OUT Linebacker Ryan Nece kept his sense of humor about the upcoming schedule when asked whom he thought it impacted the most.
“Kickers, they have it the hardest. It’s awfully tiring on their legs, the amount of kicking they do. You know it’s pretty strenuous,” Nece said.
On a more serious note, Nece went on to say he believes the three-game stretch will prove most difficult for linemen on both sides of the ball, citing the contact they engage in on a down-to-down basis.
As a player, it’s important to prepare mentally, but once the game starts it becomes irrelevant because “you become locked in and ready to do the job.”
“The mind is a strong thing,” Nece added. “It’s amazing what players are able to put their bodies through, especially at this level. You see what Chris Simms was able to do.”
Other than getting in the proper state of mind, Nece suggests that the only thing a player can do to make it through such a run is to get proper rest between games.
“There’s no magic pill, no sauna, no whirlpool that’s going to get you back,” he said. “You just have to be smart. To be honest with you, the one thing I’m going to do is sleep. There’s no more important remedy than sleep.”
TOUGH GUY A day of good rest appears to have benefited Anthony Davis. The Bucs’ starting left tackle sprained his ankle in Wednesday’s practice and sat out Thursday. He returned Friday with Gruden saying he should be ready to go against Washington.
“He’s a tough guy,” Gruden said of Davis. “It’s a credit to him. He is not the type of guy who says much. I just say, ‘You ready to go A.D.?’ and he gives you the head nod.”
Davis said he has been rehabbing with trainers and he feels 100 percent. If he didn’t and thought he would hurt the team, he wouldn’t play.
“Honestly, I think every player in this locker room is playing with an injury right now so we just try not to think about it. It’s not a big deal,” Davis said.
The prognosis for defensive end Simeon Rice and defensive tackle Ellis Wyms remains bleak. With both players missing practice again on Friday, their status for Sunday remains a game-time decision.
There’s a chance linebacker Shelton Quarles could play, and if not, Barrett Ruud will start in his place.
All three players stayed home during the Bucs’ road game at Carolina Monday.
“Leave injured players at home,” Gruden said. “My thinking was, three games in 10 days, here’s a chance for these guys to at least sleep in their own beds, get some rest and some extra treatment.”
On Friday Gruden would only say that Quarles has a chance to play and that he had no further updates on Rice and Wyms other than he was “concerned” about them.
STRIKE UP THE BAND To get the team in the spirit of the weekend, the Bucs were treated to a musical collage of college fight songs during Friday’s practice.
Gruden prefers the Ohio State fight song while his wife Cindy is partial to Rocky Top having been a University of Tennessee cheerleader.
IT DOESN’T SUIT HIM The NFL has authorized San Francisco Coach Mike Nolan and Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio to wear suits, designed by Reebok, on the sidelines this weekend for the first time since 1993.When Bucs head coach Jon Gruden was asked if people could expect to see him donning one on the sidelines anytime soon, it didn’t take him long to consider it.
“Hell no, I ain’t wearing a suit,” Gruden said. “But if we win a couple games in a row, heck I might wear a tuxedo.”
INJURY REPORT Cornerback Juran Bolden (hip), T Anthony Davis (ankle), T Donald Penn (foot), RB Michael Pittman (shoulder), LB Shelton Quarles (knee/ankle), DE Simeon Rice (shoulder) and DT Ellis Wyms (ankle) are all listed as questionable.