TAMPA, Fla — It's been over a week since their last preseason game and the Bucs are more than ready to hit the field Thursday, at least that's what Head Coach Bruce Arians said in post-practice interviews.
"Oh, yeah. We know what day it is, I promise you," Arians said when reporters asked if the team was clear on how close their first game was.
In their last preseason game, starters played in the first half giving them a taste of live action ahead of the regular season.
Now, it's almost here.
Sunday, the Bucs put pads on during a session that didn't originally call for it.
"The inside practice was really physical," Arians said. "So, I was like, 'Should we put pads on Sunday?' and they were like, 'Yeah, just for our protection.' Yeah, just the protection. It was a very, very good practice."
Arians told reporters he likes what he's been seeing these last few days. The players were bringing great speed, he said.
So far, the only player who is not practicing this week is Jordan Whitehead. The Bucs safety is out with a hamstring injury they're monitoring on a day-to-day basis. If Whitehead isn't cleared to play Thursday, Arians said he's "super comfortable" with Mike Edwards and Ross Cockrell taking over during Week 1 against the Cowboys. However, he's not counting Whitehead out.
Going into Thursday's game, the Bucs will have to keep up with the Dallas Cowboys' receiver trio of Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup.
"They're loaded, and they all do different things," Arians said when talking about the receiving corps. "Gallup goes deep, Cooper is Cooper and CeeDee Lamb is a great runner after the [catch]. They all individually do different things. They're not the same guy."
Looking ahead to Week 1, the Bucs have the weight of last season's Super Bowl on their shoulders, but Arians said his team isn't concerned with egos and individual stats, "it's just about winning ballgames and winning championships."
The Cowboys will play the Bucs at Raymond James Stadium Thursday. Kickoff is slated for 8:20 p.m.