Well, Buccaneers fans, for the first time since February, it’s game week for your favorite football team. And while the hype for Saturday’s preseason opener against the Cincinnati Bengals can’t possibly live up to where it was prior to Tampa Bay’s last contest at Raymond James Stadium, it’s pretty nice to say that football is back.
For two weeks now, the defending Super Bowl champions have been hard at work on the practice fields at the AdventHealth Training Center in preparation for their title defense. This week is a little different in that, at the end of it, they’ll be lining up against another team for the first time in six months.
When asked after Saturday’s practice about the anticipation of his team getting to face an actual opponent in the coming days, head coach Bruce Arians had this to say:
“It’s that time – tired of hitting each other. But we’ve got three more days of it. You’ve just got to push through it, like today. [They] have [Sunday] off and we’ll cut this day short a little bit for them and come back and have a really spirited Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. [We’ll] look at Cincinnati a little bit for the young guys to just give them a chance to know what they’re going to see.”
There always comes a point during training camp when players are tired of squaring off against their teammates. That’s one reason for the continued use of joint practices with other teams, of course. But as different as this week might feel in terms of mentality and excitement for both players and fans alike, it’s going to feel quite the same as the previous weeks when it comes to what’s happening on the practice fields. Arians was quick to note on Saturday that it’s going to be just another typical week of training camp:
“It’s just training camp. We’ll look at Cincinnati’s formations on Thursday and try to show them the base stuff defensively and offensively. And mostly for the young guys so that they know what they’re going up against.”
It would make sense that the coaching staff would use this week as just another week of training camp rather than a typical game week. After all, it’s still the preseason. Plus, when you consider the fact that the Tennessee Titans will be in town next week for some joint practices, this may be the last chance for the Bucs to have a relatively normal training camp week. The week after next will likely be more about whittling down the roster and getting the bubble guys ready for the third and final preseason game in Houston. Then, the week after that, it’s on to preparing for the regular season opener against the Dallas Cowboys.
So, while this week might lean toward feeling a little different for the Bucs, a lot of it will be the same. With that being said, no one can blame you if you’re way too excited to see Tampa Bay in exhibition action five days from now.