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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Barber says secondary will see what it's made of versus Broncos' Manning



The challenge for the Bucs young secondary will be elevated at least a Mile High when they take on Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning Sunday.

Tampa Bay, which is ranked 32nd in the NFL in pass defense by allowing 315.5 yards per game, has been hurt by the trade of Aqib Talib to the New England Patriots and the recurring Achilles injury to Eric Wright, who was inactive in Sunday's 24-23 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.

Quarterback Matt Ryan passed for 353 yards with a touchdown and interception in engineering his fourth comeback against the Bucs in the fourth quarter or overtime against Tampa Bay.

The Bucs have been forced to start undrafted rookie Leonard Johnson and E.J. Biggers, a seventh-round pick in 2009, at cornerback. Johnson was burned for an 80-yard touchdown pass by Falcons receiver Julio Jones.

Will the Bucs young corners be up to the challenge of facing Manning?

"They have no choice.  It gets no easier,'' Barber said. "You should want these challenges. We'll have a real judge of character after a game like this. We'll see what we're made of.''

Bucs linebacker Adam Hayward said the veteran players have been working to build the confidence of their young defensive backs.

"They're handling it, man,'' Hayward said." As you can see how the game went. It's hard, when you've got young guys who haven't been in there very long. Ronde and myself and even Biggers, we're kind of getting with these young guys and telling them, "these are some receivers we're about to play. Don't be fooled. These guys are good.'

You've just got to keep working with them and building their confidence and letting them know they're here for a reason so they can play. That's what we've got to do this week because we're about to go against another great offense.

"You're playing the best of the best, so it's time to put your hat on and go to work just like everybody else does. If it's your first game or Ronde's 200-and something game. You've got to put your helmet on, strap it on and do your best.''

Hayward said much of the Bucs ' problems on defense were the result of poor tackling.  

"Our biggest thing is we weren't tackling worth a crap at all,'' Hayward said. "That whole first half was awful. We were stopping them, but the first guy would miss a tackle and then they'd break for five more (yards) and now we're in a bad situation. That's our No. 1 problem. We fix that, we're not even having this conversation. That would've eliminated a lot of things. It's frustrating, but we'll fix it.''

Manning is going for his 150th win Sunday as a starting quarterback and has 26 touchdowns and eight interceptions this season.

"That's the thing, everyone is going to have to play tight coverage because this guy will get whoever the ball,'' Hayward said. "It doesn't matter if it's a checkdown, it doesn't matter if it's a go-to receiver or someone across the middle. So everybody has to be on their guy taking care of business.

"He goes through the whole progression. This guy is one of the best quarterbacks to ever play this game, so it's going to be a challenge.''




[Last modified: Monday, November 26, 2012 12:40pm]


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