Bucs News and Notes

December 13 – The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are preparing to take on the 9-3 Chicago Bears this Sunday. The Pewter Pirates want to avenge their 27-24 loss to the Bears from earlier in the season. In other news, Bucs rookie LT Kenyatta Walker came to the rescue of hundreds of foster children on Wednesday, and Tampa Bay defensive line coach Rod Marinelli is staying put-for now. Buccaneer Magazine has all of this news and more in this installment of Bucs News and Notes.

KENYATTA TO THE RESCUE: On Nov. 13, the Foster Angels' storage facility was broken into and $15,000 worth of gifts for the foster children were stolen. But after hearing the news, Bucs rookie LT Kenyatta Walker came to the rescue of hundreds of foster children by donating $8,000 to the Foster Angels Program.

"I heard about what had happened to their program and I wanted to do what I could," said Walker. "I've been blessed to be put in a position where I can help other people out and I just wanted to give something back to the community."

If you would like to follow in Walker's lead in helping the Foster Angel Program, call the Children's Board of Hillsborough County at (813) 229-2684.

MARINELLI STAYING PUT…FOR NOW: Bucs defensive line coach Rod Marinelli was one of a handful of candidates being considered for the vacant head coaching job at the University of California. But on Wednesday, Jeff Tedford, who was the offensive coordinator at the University of Oregon for the past four years, was hired as the new coach of Cal.

Marinelli has ties back to the University of California, where he served as their defensive line and assistant coach from 1983 to 1991.

While Marinelli didn't get the Cal job, he could be considered for vacant defensive coordinator and head coaching jobs at the end of the 2001 season. Tampa Bay lost both assistant head coach/secondary coach Herm Edwards and linebackers coach Lovie Smith to promotions last offseason.

BUCS LOOK TO GET WOEFUL RUNNING GAME COOKING: Tampa Bay's running game is ranked 30th in the league, and the only team worse than the Bucs is that department is the 1-11 Carolina Panthers. But on Wednesday, head coach Tony Dungy said the team is going to make a change in their running attack.

The Bucs are going to likely experiment with a permanent fullback in their offense, and rookie Jameel Cook will fill that role. Cook has been doing an admirable job as a lead blocker for FB Mike Alstott. The A-Train is averaging 4.0 yards per carry and has scored eight touchdowns this season. But Bucs RB Warrick Dunn has not had the same success with Alstott blocking for him. Dunn is struggling and is only averaging 2.7 yards per carry.

"Jameel (Cook) is playing well," said Dungy. "He deserves the chance to play and with Mike (Alstott) playing more at halfback, he's got to get a rest at sometime and that's when Jameel will get to play."

Tampa Bay will experiment with having Cook lead block for Dunn against Chicago's 3rd ranked run defense. The Bucs could only manage 17 total rushing yards against the Bears on Nov. 18, and that number will certainly have to increase for the Pewter Pirates this time around.

"Jameel (Cook) did a good job," said Dungy. "We'll have that package involved in our game plan. Now, how much we will have it in? We'll have to see as the game unfolds."

NO MORE SURPRISES: The Chicago Bears offense is known for dinking and dunking the ball underneath coverage, but they sure caught Tampa Bay's defense off guard when the two teams clashed at Raymond James Stadium on Nov. 18.

Bears QB Jim Miller hooked up with WR Marty Booker seven times for 165 yards and three touchdowns. Booker and Co. toasted Tampa Bay's secondary three times for 28, 44 and 66-yard touchdown receptions.

"It was just a couple of fluke plays," said Bucs DE Steve White. "We've definitely shown we can play with these guys. It's just a matter of us doing what we can do and we'll be all right. We had two or three breakdowns, and other than that, we pretty much contained them."

Other teams have not been able to take advantage of Tampa Bay's defense on the deep ball since the Bucs and Bears met, but the Bucs will certainly not forget what Chicago did to them.

"We've done a good job in not giving up the big play since then," said Bucs SS John Lynch. "But you kind of revisit it when we watch the film for this game. It's kind of disappointing, but that's the past. What you have to do is learn from that and move on."

THE BUCS LOOK TO ELIMINATE THE BAD TASTE CHICAGO LEFT IN THEIR MOUTH: It's no secret that Chicago left a bad taste if Tampa Bay's mouth by escaping Raymond James Stadium with a win in November. And there is only one way to rid themselves of that bad taste, and memory.

"Anytime someone comes into your house and takes a win, and let's you know about it, it does leave a bad taste," said Lynch. "And we need to return the favor."

WINDY CITY FORECAST: Tampa Bay is 0-20 in games played under 40 degree temperatures. It's mid-December, it's Chicago and it's going to be freezing, right?

Well, as of Thursday morning, forecasts in Chicago are calling for 44-degree temperatures with cloudy skies and scattered showers. These are certainly not the weather conditions the Bucs would prefer, but they'll take the Bears whenever and wherever the have the opportunity to gain ground on them.

"I hope it's under 40 degrees," said White. "I hope it's under 30 degrees so we can prove to everyone that the weather doesn't win or lose games for people. It's the players and the people on the sidelines."

"That would be nice to put to rest," said Lynch. "I don't know what the forecast is, but I'm not really worried about it. We've been there before and we just need to win a football game regardless of what the temperatures are."

NO RESPECT: After Bucs K Martin Gramatica's game-tying 49-yard field attempt bounced off of the right upright, the some of the Buccaneers players didn't appreciate the way they were disrespected by some of the Bears players.

"Someone pointed some of that stuff out after the game," said Lynch. "They also had some stuff to say to Martin (Gramatica) after the game. They had a coach that got in one of our player's faces. That's Bush League. For the most part, there are a lot of guys we respect over there. But I'll remember some of those things. There's already enough motivation in this game. That just adds a little more to it."


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