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Jurevicius joins Bucs, will play

By RICK STROUD, GREG AUMAN, KEVIN KELLY

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 19, 2003


PHILADELPHIA -- Receiver Joe Jurevicius joined the Bucs at the team hotel Saturday afternoon and will play today.

Jurevicius missed three days of practice and did not travel with the team because he was attending to wife Meagan and first child Michael, who was born last week and is experiencing health complications. The baby was a month premature.

General manager Rich McKay said that Jurevicius arrived after the team's brief workout at Veterans Stadium.

"He took care of what he had to take care of," McKay said. "Joe is a competitor, and he'll be focused."

HELP FROM ABOVE: The Bucs can look to the skies for support, thanks to a fan donation drive.

WILD-FM 98.7 and Buccaneer Heaven raised more than $1,300 to cover the cost of renting a plane to fly over the stadium for three hours with a banner that reads: "Go Bucs, Think Warm! Pluck the Eagles!"

Debbie Arnold of Clearwater, a season-ticket holder, read enough about hostile Eagles fans that she didn't want to go to Philadelphia, but she came up with an idea that would give the Bucs some support.

"I think the fans there will probably go berserk when they see the plane, but they can't throw anything at it," she said. "We were so bummed we couldn't go, but I couldn't believe how well this worked. The fans really came forward."

Arnold couldn't find a pilot in Philadelphia willing to fly the anti-Eagles banner, but she found one in New Jersey. The banner will fly over the stadium from 1:45-4:45 p.m.

"I really don't discriminate -- it's just business for me," Scott Higgins of Ocean City said. "As long as I don't get shot down."

PAT ON THE BACK: Maybe they were just being polite, but the Eagles praised the Bucs' 27th-ranked rushing offense.

"That poses a big challenge," defensive tackle Corey Simon said. "All season long these guys have been effective in their running game."

Running back Michael Pittman led Tampa Bay with 49 yards on 12 carries in the 20-10 loss at Philadelphia on Oct. 20. Mike Alstott averaged 4.6 yards in his past three games at Veterans Stadium.

"I don't think you can let Alstott and Pittman be a factor," Philadelphia defensive coordinator Jim Johnson said. "If Alstott gets on a roll or Pittman breaks a long one that's going to be hard on us. We have to stop those guys, there's no question about it.

The Eagles ranked fourth in the NFC and ninth in the NFL in rush defense (103.8 yards per game) during the regular season.

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