Vick, A Preview Of What's To Come

August 29 - When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers face Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick on Friday night, they will be getting a taste of the mobile QBs they'll face on their schedule. The Bucs open the season playing against Quincy Carter, Donovan McNabb and Daunte Culpepper. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/ALLSPORT)

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers know they will be facing Atlanta quarterback Michael Vick twice a year beginning in 2002 when the league realigns its divisions and the Bucs and the Falcons are together in the NFC South. But when the two teams square off in preseason action on Friday night at the Georgia Dome, the Bucs will get their first look at Vick, the league's No. 1 overall pick, as well as the first three quarterbacks they'll face in the regular season.

In time, Vick will likely be known as the league's most mobile quarterback, but the Bucs will be facing three very mobile quarterbacks to start the season when they face Dallas rookie Quincy Carter in Week 1, Philadelphia's Donovan McNabb in Week 2 and Minnesota's Daunte Culpepper in Week 4 after the bye week. "It is going to be good for us," Bucs coach Tony Dungy said of playing Vick. "The way they play, their style of play, especially when Vick is in the game, we're going to get Quincy Carter, we're going to get Donovan McNabb and Daunte Culpepper early in the year. You've got a quarterback who can get out of the pocket and do some dangerous things, and they've got some designed running plays in for him. It will be good for us."

Bucs defensive tackle Warren Sapp agreed that preparing for Vick helps the defense start preparing for other scrambling quarterbacks.

"We've got Quincy Carter coming in Week 1, we've got Donovan McNabb coming in in Week 2, we take off a week then we have the White Rhino (QB Daunte Culpepper), so it's going to be real special for us to go up against a quarterback who can move around the pocket so that we can prepare for the first part of the season," Sapp said. "We need that."

When asked if playing against Vick got his juices going, Bucs defensive end Simeon Rice said, "I don't know if I want to face Michael Vick. My cardio's up now."

"If juices is a metaphor for sweat, yeah. He gets the sweat going. He gets the sweat in your eyes. He gets you thinking about him at night. If they say you're fast, you've got to be fast with him. When you're thinking about 4.3 speed for quarterbacks ... ouch. With Michael Vick back there, it's like having three running backs in the backfield."

While Sapp won't admit that Vick is scary just yet, he did say that Vick has the qualties to be special.

"You don't become the No. 1 pick in the NFL if you're not special," Sapp said. "He's special, but he has some things to learn. If we go out and do our thing, it doesn't matter who the quarterback is. We take them all down the same way."

But while Sapp throws out some praise Vick's way, he cautions not to exult him before he plays his first down in regular season NFL action. Potential can be a dangerous word.

"Do you know what potential means? Potential means he hasn't done (expletive) yet," Sapp said. "That's what potential means. You don't win games ... you don't even get a first down on potential. You don't even get a yard on potential. They said that Tony Mandarich was supposed to be the next coming of Anthony Munoz? Yeah. That's what potential means.

"You may face a stud in college every month, but up here at this level, everybody gets a check. You ain't playing Sisters of the Blind or Temple. This is real football."

Sapp knows full well that he and the first-string defense will only see Vick from the sidelines on Friday night as the starters for both teams are slated to play no more than the first quarter.

"Who's going to be playing this Friday? Chris Chandler," Sapp said. "When I leave, that's when Vick is coming in. It's just like when Cleveland and (Tim) Couch came down here that one year. Thy put No. 11 in the game and let him take his beating and then put Couch in when we left. They're not stupid. They don't want to do that with that kid. That's just being a bright coach.

"Next week all of the bulletproof vests come off and it's live, baby. That's what I'm waiting on. Then we can talk about something, because this right here is ifs and buts, and candies and nuts."

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