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Lightning forces players into garage

By RICK STROUD, ROGER MILLS and DARRELL FRY, Times staff writers
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 6, 2002

TAMPA -- It's a play everyone has called in the huddle during street football: Run to the Buick, cut to the Ford and I'll hit you with a pass.

But that was close to reality for the Buccaneers on Thursday. Severe thunderstorms produced as Tropical Storm Edouard weakened into a depression forced them to practice on the fourth floor of the Corporate Center One garage.

The Bucs tried to practice outdoors at One Buc Place but were chased by lightning.

"There's a first time for everything," coach Jon Gruden said. "But we got some work done, and we have no excuses. But the weather was scary today, a lot of lightning. Rain is one thing, lightning is another thing. Without a doubt it was the right thing to do. Our players concentrated, and we got some work done."

Thursday is traditionally a heavy work day for NFL teams. The Bucs were scheduled to practice in shoulder pads and shorts. But an 8-foot ceiling reduced their workout to a walk-through in preparation for Sunday's season opener against New Orleans.

"Our passing game didn't get much work in there, either," Gruden said. "But we were able to get some things done, try to recognize some looks and work on our communication and overall detail. It's not like being outside, but you have to sometimes make adjustments."

For the players, it was different, but better than risking a lightning strike.

"I have never done that before," 39-year-old offensive tackle Lomas Brown said. "I've practiced in a gym, inside the facility and even in an auditorium, but never before in a parking lot. ... It was great because no one was pounding on me today, and that's important for an older fella like myself."

The forecast calls for more rain today, but the Bucs have no contingency plan -- other than the garage.

"Hopefully, we can get outside (today) and practice some different phases," Gruden said. "We're going to look into a contingency plan. There's just not a lot of indoor domes that are available to us that can accommodate a football team. So if we have to go back to the garage, by God, we'll have to do that."

In the offseason, the Bucs inquired about using Tropicana Field on Fridays during the season to avoid hot weather, but no arrangement was finalized.

ONOME KNOWS: He may be the Trojan Horse or a diamond in the rough, but the Bucs are happy to have receiver Onome Ojo on the practice squad.

They are particularly happy to have him this week. Ojo spent last season, his first in the NFL, on the Saints roster and was cut after the preseason.

"Up to a couple days ago (I was there)," Ojo said. "It's sweet and weird all at the same time. I thought, how strange. I'll be seeing all my old teammates sooner than later.

"It's odd. Here I was rooting for the Saints to win as we took the field a couple days ago, and now I'm on the opposite side. So, I'm really hoping for the Saints' demise this weekend."

Ojo, a 6-foot-4, 205-pounder from Cal-Davis, was a fifth-round draft pick of the Saints last season. He was on the 53-man roster all season but was inactive for every game. He said he was delighted to share some of New Orleans' secrets with the Bucs coaching staff.

"Definitely, and I've been forthcoming because that's the nature of the business," he said. "It's fun. It's a game, but you want to win. I have a lot of respect and love for those guys over there, but I really want the Bucs to win."

READY AND WAITING -- IMPATIENTLY: The regular season is so close defensive tackle Warren Sapp can almost touch it. To Sapp, and most of his teammates, the season opener can't come soon enough.

"Yeah, it's time to go. Let's play ball, man," Sapp said. "I'm sick of this preseason. I'm sick of everything. Let's play. Let's line up."

Safety John Lynch said the starters understood the nature of preseason but got frustrated with limited action.

"You despise the preseason so much," Lynch said. "You just want to get that opening day to get going. You spend the offseason targeting that first day. Preseason, I don't think I played more than 15 plays."

GAG ORDER: Gruden has preached throughout the offseason to his players about not trash-talking and making bold predictions. The message seems to be getting through.

Pressed during the week on his team's outlook for this season, Sapp diplomatically responded: "We've got a game this Sunday against the New Orleans Saints, and that's no further than we're looking."

LEAN ON ME: With a new scheme and several new starters, the offense has gotten off to a slow start in the preseason and may take a few games to get in rhythm. That could mean the defense and kicker Martin Gramatica again could play a prominent role.

That is just fine with Sapp, who said the team wouldn't suffer if the defense had to carry more of the early workload.

"You're going to put it on the defense and Martin? No problem. I'll take my chances with that because I know what us 11 can do and I know Mr. Automatica is ready," Sapp said. "It's going to take us a little while to get this offense cranked up. But once we're cranked, we're going to be a real tough team to beat. If we've got to carry the load for the first month, then that's fine."

HE SAID IT: "I know we didn't run all our pass plays and patterns. I ran like two routes all preseason." -- Receiver Keyshawn Johnson on how much of the offense was on display the past four weeks.

Back to the Bucs
Today's lineup

  • Productive Saints QB still looking for respect
  • Lightning forces players into garage

  • Rays
  • Rays, Kennedy get swept away
  • Naimoli says deal should help sport
  • Nash to get out of jail
  • Up next: Rangers

  • Other sports

    U.S. Open Tennis
  • Sampras whips the kid
  • First Hewitt-Agassi match was a stunner
  • Davenport and Mauresmo up against Williams wall

  • On the Net
  • Tennis sites top NFL in searches

  • Colleges
  • 'Canes' DBs face big test
  • State practice reports
  • Silence isn't golden for DTs
  • Loss leads to better days
  • Beavers cruise to victory
  • Around the Nation

  • Baseball
  • AL: A-Rod reaches 50 HRs in rout
  • NL: Four-run first helps Schilling get 22nd win
  • Baseball notebook
  • Streak is nice, but A's want division

  • Motorsports
  • Stewart nips Harvick for rare Truck victory

  • NFL
  • 49ers win season opener
  • Around the NFC
  • Around the AFC

  • Sports on TV, Radio
  • Fox trio of announcers paving way to top spot

  • Preps
  • Mitchell promotes JV coach
  • Bears open with victory
  • New Chiefs, same dreams
  • Why run when they can fly?

  • Etc.
  • In brief
  • UT ready to honor its best

  • Outdoors
  • Daily fishing report

  • NFL Football preview 2002
  • Light up the cannons and hold your ears
  • Gimme Five
  • Gruden's path littered with historic hurdles
  • League site gives fans what they want
  • Bucs by the numbers
  • Kiffin's in charge of the defense, as always
  • Bucs Q&A
  • What to bring and what to leave home
  • Dilger site knocked off-line by Sept. 11
  • NFL Q&A
  • New rules
  • NFC South capsules
  • Confidence still strong despite loss of talent
  • Saints notebook
  • Bucs coaches
  • Falcons Notebook
  • So fast, they're scary
  • Buccaneers defensive capsules
  • Buccaneers offensive capsules
  • The Florida Keys
  • 'I am making a guarantee'
  • Staff predictions
  • Buccaneers at a glance
  • Bucs: High Hopes
  • Coaching changes
  • On the road with the Bucs
  • Team by team breakdown
  • Dolphins: For the fans
  • No more excuses for Miami
  • New NFL stadiums
  • Jacksonville looking dim without its stars
  • Jaguars: For the fans
  • NFL: By the numbers
  • What they're saying about the Bucs
  • What they're saying about the Dolphins
  • What they're saying about the Dolphins
  • What's past is past for Panthers, unless you hang on for motivation
  • Panthers: Special teams must keep scoring points

  • Prep football preview 2002
  • 4A-6 DISTRICT PREVIEW: Defending champ faces tough road
  • Losing season doesn't sit well with Hawks
  • Team's continued rise depends on cohesion
  • Graduation forces Spongers to ''reload''
  • Barons look forward to tough schedule
  • New-look Warhawks boast lofty goals
  • New Pats coach plans plenty of changes
  • Devils welcome fresh cast of characters
  • 'Canes in playoffs? Not that far-fetched
  • Explosive Felton to carry Warriors' load
  • Small Mustangs must rely on experience
  • Harris looks to measure up in win column
  • Packers boast new weapon at quarterback
  • Loaded Spartans have talent to dominate
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  • Gladiators trying to stay more grounded
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  • Rebels pinning hopes on healthy veterans
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  • Healthy Marauders pose playoff threat
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  • New coach looking to stretch the field
  • Big dreams without big heads
  • You've come a long way baby!
  • The small things come first for county's newest teams
  • Hillsborough distric outlook
  • From the editor:
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  • West Preview: Could this be the season the west finally fights back?
  • Veteran leadership strength of Cougars
  • This Cowboys coach promises to stay put
  • Don't be surprised by Indians this time
  • It's now or never for the Dragons
  • Potential for title run has Lions' attention
  • One loss motivates Tigers to improve
  • Leto's new offense, season hold promise
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  • Rebuilding Raiders must grow up fast
  • It's Hicks' turn to carry load for Knights
  • New-look Titans plan to pass first
  • Too many veterans not to be optimistic
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  • Wildcats begin to whisper about playoffs
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  • Ravens' growth will determine success
  • Last season's stars are tough to replace
  • Bucs want early wins then trip to playoffs
  • Nine-game skid shakes team's foundation
  • Bulls out to end trend of one-win seasons
  • Depth in trenches crucial for Eagles
  • Pasco County: For the fans
  • Playoff losses big motivation for Gators
  • The word little's a big deal for Mustangs
  • If Pirates can remain healthy, watch out
  • This season's schedule bound to have more surprises
  • New coach, offense give Rams new hope
  • Juniors out to resurrect Knights' success
  • Wildcats prepare for tougher challenges
  • Bulldogs are lacking in numbers, as usual
  • 10 Games to Watch: A week-by-week county primer
  • 10 Questions: Setting the record straight for 2002 ... sort of
  • Gators begin making big waves
  • National Signing Day will be a big deal this time around
  • Bucs sport a new look called the Spread-I
  • Conference race has new meaning
  • Offense has promise, defense a concern
  • Weightman to test reloading Hudson
  • New Bears coach is all about approach
  • Hernando: For the Fans
  • On the Net
  • Castillo, Leopards ready to break into open
  • Eagles to take field with winning feeling
  • Hernando County's college players to watch
  • Eagles in for rocky start, strong finish
  • Springstead ready to push Central
  • Scheme stays same but faces change
  • Panthers standout isn't very hard to find on field
  • Pirates bent on dismissing doubters, foes
  • Panthers have tasted success, want more
  • Buoyed by experience, athleticism
  • Tigers have playoff potential if they unite
  • A whole new offensive ballgame
  • Citrus County football from A to Z
  • Back to Top

    © 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
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