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Tampa Bay Buccaneers' defense must keep track of Philadelphia Eagles' Michael Vick

TAMPA — As if the Bucs don't have their hands full preparing for the return of Eagles Pro Bowl QB Donovan McNabb, they also must plan for Michael Vick. Maybe on the same play.

Vick, who missed two seasons then was suspended for 2009's first two games for his role in a dogfighting ring, went 0-for-2 passing and rushed once for 7 yards in his return Sept. 27 against Kansas City.

The Bucs are very familiar with the 29-year-old quarterback, having faced him for six seasons when he played for the Falcons.

"Michael Vick hurts you more in preparation than he does on Sunday," Bucs coach Raheem Morris said, "because by Sunday, you are mentally exhausted about what you're going to do and how you're going to do it. Then you go out there Sunday and, as a coach, just hold your breath and hope he doesn't do anything dynamic to absolutely break your will."

McNabb and Vick aren't the only ones who step behind center for the Eagles. WR DeSean Jackson and RBs Brian Westbrook and LeSean McCoy also have taken snaps in the wildcat formation.

Pundits predicted the McNabb-Vick pairing would cause strife. But McNabb, who has missed the past two games with a broken rib, insisted he's looking forward to getting on the field with Vick.

"You have a guy who was one of the top quarterbacks when he was playing. Now he's back and getting his feet back under him," McNabb said. "And when you add a guy like that with a Brian Westbrook, with a (TE) Brent Celek, DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy, you just add more and more weapons on the offensive side.

"When we're all out there on the field together, you have to figure out who you're going to defend. We really haven't even touched the surface with (Vick) in there and myself in there as well as the rest of the guys. And that's the exciting part about it."

BEAT THE HEAT: The Bucs hoped training in the heat and humidity would be an edge. But Thursday, the heat index on the practice field was more than 100 degrees. The Bucs erected a small, portable tent so selected players could escape the sun between practice periods. "It's got to be your edge on Sunday," Morris said of withstanding the heat. "On Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, it'll beat at you. And then you've got to try to find a way to beat it a little bit."

INJURIES: DE Gaines Adams sprained his ankle Wednesday and did not participate Thursday. C Jeff Faine (triceps), RB Earnest Graham (hamstring) and DE Kyle Moore (knee) also did not practice. WRs Antonio Bryant (knee) and Brian Clark (undisclosed) were limited. WR Michael Clayton (ribs), QB Byron Leftwich (hip) and RB Derrick Ward (knee) and LB Geno Hayes (undisclosed) participated fully. Adams missed practices last week with a groin injury but responded with his best game of the season, getting a sack, fumble recovery and pass defensed at Washington.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers' defense must keep track of Philadelphia Eagles' Michael Vick 10/08/09 [Last modified: Thursday, October 8, 2009 11:07pm]
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