TAMPA — The Bucs are well aware of the tough task they're in for Sunday in dealing with the Giants' touted defensive front, arguably the best in the league.
"They're freaks of nature," LT Donald Penn said.
"They've got, like, three or five Pro Bowlers on their defensive line, something crazy like that," LG Carl Nicks said. "They're beasts."
The Giants defense also is coming into the game hungry, having racked up no sacks in a 24-17 loss to the Cowboys in the season opener.
"They're the world champs," Penn said. "After the loss last week, it's going to be tough. There's going be a lot of hitting in the mouth."
Though the Giants are without injured DT Chris Canty (knee), DT Marvin Austin (back) could return. And they have a triple threat of ends in Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora — both two-time Pro Bowl players— and former USF star Jason Pierre-Paul, a 6-foot-5, 270-pound force who racked up 16½ sacks last season.
"He's one of the most dominant players in the National Football League," coach Greg Schiano said of Pierre-Paul, against whom he coached against while he was at Rutgers and Pierre-Paul was with the Bulls. "And he presents a lot of problems. You better know where he is every play, and you better have a plan to account for him, because if you don't, he'll not only causes havoc in sacks and hits, he takes the ball away.
"He's tremendous at swatting the ball out of the quarterbacks hands. He's one of the elite players."
The Giants move Pierre-Paul around to both sides, with Penn and RT Jeremy Trueblood both expecting to have to face him.
"I'll be ready for anything," Trueblood said.
What helps set the Giants front apart are its athleticism and versatility. It can create pressure "bull-rushing, speed rushing — they're jack-of-all-trades over there," Nicks said.
"Some of us on the line, we'll have to play our best game yet," Penn said. "That's part of football. … I like playing the best, so I'm excited.
"These guys are the best."
WITH HONORS: Bucs veteran Ronde Barber has been here before. But that doesn't take any luster off Wednesday's announcement that Barber was named NFC defensive player of the week for the 10th time in his career, this time for his five tackles, two tackles for loss, a sack and an interception in Sunday's season-opening 16-10 win over the Panthers.
That his performance occurred in Barber's 200th consecutive start, and first game at safety, wasn't lost on the 16-year veteran.
"It never gets old," Barber, 37, said, smiling. "If you're going to do it, try to prove some people wrong, might as well do it in Week 1.
"I got some favorable bounces, got a hustle sack and a tipped pick. Everything else, I was doing my job. To be recognized for it, it's a great deal. It happened on a pretty special day for me. But it is what it is, I've done it nine times before, so it's par for the course, I guess."
ANTISOCIAL? Schiano said he doesn't get "real sentimental" about returning home to the New Jersey area for Sunday's game against the Giants, other than there's a certain comfort level about being in a familiar place.
"It's not a social trip," said Schiano, whose first head coaching job was at Rutgers in Piscataway, N.J., for 11 seasons before joining Tampa Bay this year.
MEDICAL MATTERS: Nicks (big toe) had limited participation in practice and said he would return to full practice today and expected to play Sunday.
Joe Smith can be reached at [email protected]