Bucs News And Notes: Wednesday

October 16 – The Bucs signed T Dan Goodspeed to its practice squad on Wednesday. In order to make room for Goodspeed on its five-man practice squad, the team released G Russ Hochstein. Why is Tampa Bay's defense the best the in the NFL. Why did Bucs head coach Jon Gruden have speakers out on the practice field on Wednesday? Why did LS Ryan Benjamin receive so much attention in the locker room? PewterReport.com has compiled this notebook with news and notes from One Buccaneers Place.

The Buccaneers signed tackle Dan Goodspeed to its practice squad on Wednesday. In order to make room for Goodspeed on it's five-man practice squad, the Bucs released second-year guard Russ Hochstein.

Goodspeed originally signed onto Tampa Bay's practice squad on September 4, but was released on Oct. 9.

Hochstein, who was Tampa Bay's fifth-round draft pick in 2000, was released by the Bucs on Sept. 17, but was re-signed by the team one week later. He was released again on Oct. 1 and was signed to the team's practice squad after clearing waivers that same day.

Tampa Bay has four players on its injury report. Bucs defensive tackle Warren Sapp and strong safety John Lynch were both held out of practice on Wednessday, but both players are expected to start against Philadelphia on Sunday.

DT Warren Sapp - (knee sprain) - Probable
S Dexter Jackson (turf toe) – Probable
S John Lynch (knee sprain) – Probable
DT Anthony McFarland (foot sprain) – Probable

Tampa Bay is ranked No. 1 in overall defense in the National Football League this week. The Buccaneers are allowing just 250 yards per game and they haven't allowed an offensive touchdown in three out of the five contests they've played thus far. The Bucs are ranked 2nd in total run defense and 4th against the pass this season.

The Carolina Panthers were ranked No. 1 in total defense last week, but that changed after Tampa Bay held Cleveland to just three points and the Panthers allowed the Cowboys to score 14 points last Sunday.

Veterans Stadium is arguably the toughest NFL stadium for an opposing team to play in and the main reason why it's so difficult for visiting teams is due the crowd noise. The Eagles' home arena holds over 65,000 fans and one would be hard-pressed to find many of the away teams' fans in the stadium on game day.

That's why Bucs head coach Jon Gruden brought the crowd noise to One Buccaneer Place for Tampa Bay's practice on Wednesday, but without the crowd. Gruden brought out a couple of speakers onto the practice field and pumped crowd noise through them while the team practiced. The players said the simulated crowd noise would help prepare them for the real thing come Sunday.

"It's just as loud (as an away stadium)," Tampa Bay quarterback Brad Johnson said of the crowd noise coming out of the speakers on the practice field on Wednesday. "It gets loud in away stadiums. Baltimore and Cincinnati were loud. Raymond James (Stadium) gets loud, too, and we're on the offense. We're kind of used to playing with crowd noise, but I think it's something a little different for us and adds a little jazz to the practice, especially on offense. We have a lot of communication things we have to verbalize. It definitely simulates us going through a game-type deal."

Bucs running back Michael Pittman, who used to visit Veterans Stadium once a year as an Arizona Cardinal, said he expects the Philadelphia crowd to be very involved in the game on Sunday.

"(The speakers) will help us get used to all the noise," said Pittman. "It's going to be a big game down there. I know the Philly fans are going to be crazy, they're going to be wild and they're probably going to be drunk before the game starts. So we have to go in there and silence the crowd real quick. We need to make some big plays early."

Bucs right defensive end Simeon Rice said the team was doing whatever it could to help improve its chances of winning in Philadelphia on Sunday.

"It's fun," Rice said of having the crowd noise out on the practice field. "It helps break up the monotony. Hopefully it will aid us. We have to do what we need to do to get ready for this Sunday and if bringing the noise is what it takes, let it be done."

Tampa Bay weakside linebacker Derrick Brooks expects the crowd in Philadelphia to be loud, but he said his team's focus must remain on the Eagles.

"We're just keeping our focus on the Eagles," said Brooks. "We expect it to be loud and we expect it to be whatever, but the fans can't play a down of football. We can't worry about the fans. We'll just keep our focus on the team."

Tampa Bay's new long snapper was the center of attention on Wednesday. This might sound strange seeing as long snappers are usually the least popular players on any roster, but Bucs LS Ryan Benjamin is an exception.

Benjamin played at River Ridge High School in New Port Richey, Florida and graduated from the University of South Florida, which is located in Tampa. Not many players in the pros have the opportunity to play football in their hometown.

"It's interesting because a lot of the times long snappers don't get a lot of exposure," said Benjamin. "I'm getting a little more exposure than most because I'm in my hometown. My agent, Kevin Gold, represents only long snappers, and he said he'd never seen such a buzz over a long snapper before."

Playing in Tampa is not the only thing the Bucs and Bulls have in common. They both play their home games at Raymond James Stadium.

Benjamin hopes now is the only time he's recognized because the only time long snappers are generally talked about is when they make mistakes.

"You want to be unknown," said Benjamin. "When people start recognizing you as the long snapper on the team it's probably because you screwed up. In that respect you kind of want to stay low key. It's not always good to have press unless you're from the town you're playing in."

Former Bucs long snapper Morris Unutoa is a perfect example. He played two seasons (18 games) with Tampa Bay between 1999-2000 and fans, for the most part, had no idea who he was. But when Unutoa rejoined the Bucs after LS Mike Solwold was placed in the injured reserve with a foot sprain, it took just two weeks for fans and the media to start talking about him. Unutoa was released on Tuesday after the Bucs signed Benjamin.

Needless to say, Benjamin is excited about playing for his hometown team. But now he's going to try to start preparing for his first game as a Buccaneer.

"It all sunk in yesterday and I'm just trying to get in here today and get my feet wet, have a good practice and worry about Philadelphia this week" said Benjamin.

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