There's an axiom among coaches and players about the locker room wall -- don't say anything that will end up on the opponent's wall. Translation? Don't diss the opponent.
Warren Sapp, a far from introverted individual who has been forced to respond to jabs from the Pittsburgh Steelers saying the Bucs are "paper champions" who talk smack but can't back it up, stepped into the fray Wednesday in a phone interview with Minnesota media that included a surprise media guest -- Randy Moss -- and what followed couldn't be made up or scripted.
Moss, who seems to be much more accepting of his role as the newfound possession receiver of the Vikings instead of the double-teamed deep threat, joined the media Wednesday as the Minnesota press corps talked in a phone interview with Sapp. Pretending to be a media member asking a question, Moss asked Sapp, "How do you intend to defend Randy Moss Sunday?"
Sapp, unaware that Moss was the questioner, replied in Sappian fashion, "Randy Moss is not our first concern."
Moss' reaction was both one of surprise and one of what appeared to be hurt feelings. He's never been viewed by any defense as anything but Priority One and wasn't pleased with the response from Sapp.
As if the Vikings and Moss didn't need more incentive to beat the Bucs Sunday, Sapp may have just provided the motivation.
* Our e-mails from our Bucs sources have been going nuts the last day or two, as two words -- must win -- have been coming from surprising sources. Brad Johnson, who uncharacteristically blew off the local media both Sunday and Monday, said in an Internet column for the NFL that he sees Sunday's game as a must-win game for the Bucs. He was joined by an even more unlikely source -- coach Tony Dungy. This is the same Tony Dungy who said if the Bucs beat the Vikings in Week 3, Minnesota's division title hopes were done. Now he's saying if the Bucs fall two games behind the Vikes with no tie-breaker advantages, their own division title hopes are shot. Not only is he pissing off his team, but perhaps the Bears and Packers as well.
* Why were Dungy's comments so surprising? He's never got off to a good start. In each of the last three years, the Bucs have been 3-4 after seven weeks -- a very real possibility again with games coming up vs. the Vikes and at Green Bay. Yet, in the last two years, Tampa Bay has gone 21-11, which means that after Week 7 the last two years, the Bucs have a combined record of 15-4 -- impressive to say the least and another reason why the Vikings have the world in their hands.
* Injuries could play a big part in Sunday's game. The Bucs are hobbled with both Keyshawn Johnson and Jacquez Green major question marks. Meanwhile, Warrick Dunn, who was injured on a TD run in the first game with the Vikes, missed practice Wednesday, but will still likely be called on to start Sunday.
* In other injury news, VU was told Bucs offensive lineman Todd Washington, who backs up both Randall McDaniel and Jeff Christy, was rolled up in practice and sprained an ankle, making him a question for Sunday.
* We'll likely have more on this tomorrow, but VU has already been told -- as we were at this time last week -- to expect Michael Bennett to be de-activated Sunday, opening the door for Doug Chapman to win the starting job if he produces another solid game. Both Bennett and Moss sat out practice Wednesday, but Moss will start, while Bennett will likely be in street clothes again.
* In the offical injury report sent into the leauge, the Vikes listed Robert Griffith (ankle) as out and Bennett (ankle) as questionable. Three players who are expected to play key roles -- Moss (ankle), Corbin Lacina (ankle) and Troy Walters (knee)-- were listed as probable.
* In the Bucs' injury report, four key players -- Dunn (foot/hamstring), Keyshawn Johnson (hip flexor), Jacquez Green (groin) and Jeff Gooch (shoulder) -- were listed as questionable, while Derrick Brooks (foot) and safety Dexter Jackson (thigh) were listed as probable.
* Patrick Chukwurah practiced Wednesday at his typical linebacker spot, but VU's being told he still isn't being ruled out as a Derrick Thomas-type pass rusher on the defensive front.
* The Bucs have played three times since Dunn was injured vs. the Vikings. One would think Mike Alstott would pick up the slack, especially after scoring the game-winning touchdown vs. the Vikings. The opposite is true -- in the last two games, he has just seven rushes and one reception.
* The Bucs couldn't lose three in a row, could they? Yep. In every year except 1999, Tony Dungy's Bucs have had at least one three-game losing streak.
Sapp Disses Moss
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