Inside Slant

Even on the other side of the globe, the Bucs looked like world beaters.<br> Kicking off the new season in the same manner they ended the last one, the Bucs blasted the New York Jets 30-14 in the American Bowl at the Tokyo Dome.

"We don't care when we play, who we play or where we play," said Bucs defensive tackle Warren Sapp. "It's just about us going out and performing. It's five in the morning at the crib. You never get a chance to play at a time like that. You know those Tampa people were ready to go. They were in every sports bar in town so we had to give them a show."

Perhaps more impressive was the efficiency of the Bucs offense in the second year under coach Jon Gruden.

Tampa Bay never punted against the Jets as all three quarterbacks -- Brad Johnson, Shaun King and rookie Chris Simms -- led the team to time consuming drives and easy scores.

The Bucs were 11-of-13 on third down conversions and held the ball more than twice as long (40:39-19:21) as the Jets, out gaining them 386-yards to 180.

But Gruden cautioned Bucs fans who felt Saturday's game was reason to greet them at the airport.

"I can't even remember who we played last year in the opening preseason game. No one else can, either," said Gruden. "This is exhibition football. Derrick Brooks wasn't here, Barber wasn't here. A lot of guys played just two to three plays and that was the case for the Jets tonight, also. But you come a long way to play football and you want to win. You want that taste in your mouth. You have a high standard. And no matter who puts the Pewter and Red on, we expect to go out and be able to execute."

Quarterback Shaun King went 11-of-13 passing for 121 yards for an efficiency rating of 105.4. He benefited from a rejuvenated running game behind fourth-year pro Thomas Jones, who rushed 11 times for 43 yards and a touchdown.

"I thought he looked very comfortable," McKay said of King. "I think the one thing I wrote in my notes is that last year, he got in one game, hadn't played the much and looked very uncomfortable. And I thought tonight he looked very comfortable in the system. His reads were real quick, the ball came out fast. He had a chance for a touchdown and threw a real good ball. He had what we thought we had because it's the way he's looked every day in practice.

"The offense just seems to be a lot further along, whether it's the first unit or the second unit," said Bucs general manager Rich McKay. "It feels more comfortable because the offense has been installed for a year, the players can actually help the younger players as opposed to Jon having to install the system by teaching it to the players and the coaches. I just think you'll see the benefit of it."

The Bucs were very pleased with their young offensive line, which includes rookie center Austin King, tackle Lance Nimmo and guard Sean Mahan.

"There weren't any mistakes and they looked like they executed very well," said Gruden.

CAMP CALENDER: The Bucs resume practice Monday, Aug. 4, with a light workout. Tampa Bay closes camp at Disney's Wide World of Sports Aug. 15.

Bucs Blitz Top Stories