Bucs News And Notes: Wednesday

January 15 – PewterReport.com has compiled a notebook with news and notes regarding Sunday's NFC Championship Game. Which Bucs player didn't practice Wednesday? Want to know how Bucs fans can send the Pewter Pirates off to Philly? What does head coach Jon Gruden remember from his coaching days with the Eagles? Which Tampa Bay season ticket holders will receive the opportunity to buy Super Bowl tickets if the Bucs beat the Eagles? Find out the answers to these questions and more in this notebook.

BUCS-EAGLES INJURY REPORT:
All but one of Tampa Bay's players participated in Wednesday's practice at One Buccaneer Place.

Buccaneers wide receiver Joe Jurevicius didn't practice Wednesday for "personal reasons". Jurevicius will return to practice on Thursday.

In other news, Bucs quarterback Brad Johnson practiced Wednesday without a helmet. Johnson, who received several stitches during last Sunday's Bucs-49ers game due to a cut he sustained on his forehead, will sport his helmet on Thursday.

"He didn't wear helmet because he still has some swelling there," Bucs head coach Jon Gruden said. "He still has some swelling there and it's still sore to put that lid on his head. So, he went without the helmet. It looked a little awkward, but you know Brad – he stands out any way. We cut him a break today, but he'll be wearing that helmet tomorrow."

PewterReport.com has the official Bucs-Eagles injury report, which was released Wednesday.

TAMPA BAY:

G Cosey Coleman (right ankle sprain) - Probable
CB Corey Ivy (right Achilles strain) - Probable
QB Brad Johnson (forehead laceration) - Probable

PHILADELPHIA:
DE Derrick Burgess (foot) - Doubtful
LB Shawn Barber (knee) - Probable
S Blaine Bishop (groin) - Probable
QB Donovan McNabb (ankle) - Probable
WR Todd Pinkston (toe/finger) - Probable
RB Brian Westbrook (Wrist) - Probable

BUCS RE-SIGN RB TAYLOR TO PRACTICE SQUAD:
The Buccaneers re-signed running back Tony Taylor to its practice squad Wednesday.

Taylor (5-foot-9, 191-pounds) had spent six weeks of the regular season on Tampa Bay's practice squad before the team released him last Saturday in order to sign wide receiver Ramondo North and tackle Mitch White.

To make room for Taylor on the five-man practice squad, the Bucs released center/guard Jason Scukanec, who had spent a total of nine weeks there in two separate stints.

FANS CAN SEE BUCS OFF TO PHILLY ON FRIDAY FROM RAYMOND JAMES STADIUM:
Most Tampa Bay fans won't be able to attend the team's NFC Championship Game in Philadelphia, but they will be able to see them off.

The Buccaneers will depart from Raymond James Stadium at 3:00 p.m. on Friday, January 17, for the NFC Championship Game in Philadelphia.

Fans are invited to send the team off from Ray-Jay as the Bucs depart Tampa for Philly. Fans planning to attend must enter Lot 2 on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd in the Northeast corner of Ray-Jay. Lots will open at 12:00 p.m.

BUCS NAME TWO FORMER BUCS HONORARY CAPTAINS FOR SUNDAY'S GAME:
Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Richard "Batman" Wood and offensive tackle Paul Gruber will take the field Sunday as the team's honorary captains.

Both Wood (1979) and Gruber (1999) played in one of the Bucs' two previous NFC Championship Games.

TURNOVERS KEY:
So, what's going to ultimately decide which team wins the NFC Championship Game on Sunday? While several things will play an integral role in deciding the outcome of Sunday's game, the team that wins the turnover battle will stand a fantastic chance of advancing to Super Bowl XXXVII.

Philadelphia is ranked No. 4 in the league in turnover ratio with plus-14. Tampa Bay has the best turnover ratio in the league with plus-17.

But in their last three trips to Veterans Stadium, the Buccaneers have not won the turnover battle against the Eagles.

In Week 7, Tampa Bay fumbled four times and lost one of them. The Bucs also threw an interception. The Eagles fumbled three times and lost just one of them. Philly QB Donovan McNabb also threw one interception.

GRUDEN HAS FOND MEMORIES OF THE VET:
Veterans Stadium isn't a foreign landmark to Tampa Bay head coach Jon Gruden.

Gruden served as Philadelphia's offensive coordinator under then-head coach Ray Rhodes. Gruden was with the Eagles for just three seasons (1995-'97), but he established himself as one of the best offensive gurus in the league, which helped him land his first head coaching gig with the Oakland Raiders.

So, is it ironic that Gruden will bring his Bucs team to NFC Championship Game to play the Eagles in the last game ever played inside Veterans Stadium?

"It's amazing, you know," Gruden said of Philadelphia's home stadium. "Veteran Stadium is a historic landmark as far as I'm concerned. I hate to see that place go. I lived underneath the Vet for three years. I'm sure Jeffrey Lurie and the Eagles organization have built an unbelievable stadium for them to move into. I think it's fitting for Veteran Stadium to close with an NFC Championship Game of this magnitude."

Gruden is all too familiar with Philadelphia's home crowd, which is considered one of the loudest and rowdiest in the league. The working environment will certainly be an uneasy one on Sunday, but it's something Gruden said his team, which is 6-2 on the road this season, must overcome.

"It's going to be loud," Gruden said of this Sunday's game. "When you play at our stadium, in front of our fans, and our defense is on the field, it's extremely loud. When you play on the road generally, when you're offense is on the field it's extremely loud. When you play in the Vet, it's always extremely loud, you know what I mean. It will be a great challenge. That will be the most enthusiastic crowd probably in Veteran Stadium history. Knowing those fans like I do a little bit because of previous working arrangements there, it will be a great challenge that we'll have to try to overcome."

BUCS SUPER BOWL LOTTERY TICKET WINNERS TO BE NOTIFIED THIS WEEK:
Tampa Bay Buccaneers season ticket holders may have the opportunity to watch their favorite team play in Super Bowl XXXVII in San Diego, California on January 26, 2003.

The Bucs recently held a ticket lottery to determine which season ticket holders would receive the opportunity to purchase Super Bowl tickets if the Bucs advance past Sunday's NFC Championship Game. Season ticket holders, who were selected in the lottery process, will receive notification within the next few days.

The notification will be mailed to Bucs season ticket holders via UPS. Each lottery winner will have the option to buy two tickets at $400 each. If the Buccaneers do not advance to Super Bowl XXXVII, the notification will considered null and void.

AllSports Travel will be the Official Super Bowl XXXVII Travel Provider of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Fans can contact AllSports Travel at 1-800-332-4123 if they are interested in inquiring about travel and hotel needs.

QUOTES OF THE DAY:

Bucs head coach Jon Gruden when asked about his team's past history against the Eagles:

"There's been a lot of this psyche, deep, dig-in-between-the-lines stuff all week. It's about to drive me crazy. I could care less if we play Jones Junior High. We're in an NFC Championship Game. We would have liked to have been the No. 1 seed and play it here. I wasn't here for a lot of the games that you're talking about and neither was Mike Pittman or a lot of these players. Let's just let everybody talk about last year and two years ago and let's concentrate on what needs to be done now. That's the reality as I look at it."

Wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson on what the Bucs' offense needs to do in order to beat the Eagles' blitz packages:

"Protection. Protecting the quarterback. Our offensive line needs to pick up the blitz as they come and to recognize them before they get there and for Brad and all of us to recognize it. We need to check out of when we need to. In Week seven (versus the Eagles) we really weren't sure and didn't understand the game. It didn't get out of reach until the end of the game. A long run by Duce Staley made the score a little different. A couple of times Brad (Johnson) got hit on some throws and the ball kind of floated on him. I don't know if that happens this time. Our offensive line is playing very well. We have a lot of confidence in what they are going to do to protect us."


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