The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are rested and ready to get back to work after their bye week.
The Bucs hit the practice field Tuesday in preparation for the 4-3 Green Bay Packers in a showdown between old NFC Central division rivals.
Ask most teams when they'd prefer to have their bye week and they'll tell you midseason. The Bucs were fortunate to be one of the few teams to receive a bye in Week 8 of the 17-week season. Unfortunately for Tampa Bay, that's one of the few things that have gone right for the Bucs, who are 0-7 on the season.
"It came at a great time," Bucs safety Sabby Piscitelli said of the bye week. "It was good to go home and spend some time with my family. I was able to get away from it and relax. But at the same time, when Sunday came I had a bad feeling in my stomach watching the games. I want to get out there and try to get our first win."
The bye week is typically a time to rest and reflect, which isn't necessarily a good thing for the Bucs players that were part of last year's club. That's because the Bucs have lost 11 straight games dating back to last season.
"At first I was ready to get away from it, but it came at a great time," said Bucs defensive end Styles G. White. "Coming back to the reality of being 0-7 is tough, but I think we're all ready to go back to work and get this thing right."
The break ended Tampa Bay's losing streak for at least one more week, but the Bucs were dealt a blow Sunday when the only other two winless teams in the NFL – the St. Louis Rams and Tennessee Titans – recorded their first wins of the season, leaving Tampa Bay as the NFL's only winless team.
"I'm not interested in sharing misery with anyone else in the league," said Bucs head coach Raheem Morris. "I'm not interested in who has wins and who doesn't; I'm interested in our own wins. That's our job."
Some players were well aware of the fact that the Bucs are the only team in the NFL still searching for their first win of the 2009 regular season. But that doesn't necessarily put any more pressure on the team to win.
"A little of that is out there, but at the same time I don't think we need to put even more pressure on ourselves to win," said Bucs center Jeff Faine. "That's when players start to try and do too much and overcompensate, and most of the time it backfires. We just need to focus on what we're doing and it will get done."
Others weren't even aware that the Bucs were the only winless team in the league at the midway point in the season.
"I haven't even thought about that," said Bucs safety Sabby Piscitelli. "You obviously don't want to be involved that discussion. They got their first win of the season last weekend, and we plan on getting ours this weekend."
With St. Louis' 17-game losing streak over, Tampa Bay now owns the longest losing skid in the league at 11 straight games dating back to last season. But unlike the bye week, there is something the Bucs can do about recording their first win of the season this week.
"Some guys will handle it differently," Bucs defensive tackle Chris Hovan said of losing. "Some guys will wake up in the morning, look at the record and feel sorry for themselves. That's just the way some guys are built. I wake up and feel sorry for myself for about 10 seconds and then I get back to work. Hey, the only way to relieve a loss is to get a win."
Like the Rams and Titans, the Bucs are hoping to end their losing streak and record their first win of the season vs. the Packers on Sunday. Based on what Morris saw from his team's first practice since returning from the bye week, the Bucs might just do that Sunday.
"If the practice we had today had any indication in terms of how the players feel I'd say the bye week was great," said Morris. "They came out really energetic out of the box. I don't know if that had something to do with the team meeting or their individual meetings this morning, or their drive to get a win. Whatever it is, they came out of the box today with a re-energized spirit to get their first win. They have nine games left. That's how they're looking at it."