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Tampa Bay Buccaneers focus on limiting resurgent Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers

TAMPA — Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers gets another shot at Jeff Garcia on Monday night. That might not sound particularly intimidating given Peppers' limited impact against the Bucs in the teams' first meeting in October.

While Peppers had no sacks and five tackles in that 27-3 Bucs victory, he has zeroed in lately, recording seven sacks in his past four games, including three in a win over the Raiders.

The task of limiting Peppers will fall largely on Bucs left tackle Donald Penn because Peppers has moved from left to right defensive end this season.

But the Bucs will make sure Penn won't go it alone.

"Julius has been playing on Donald's side, but it's not just going to be Donald," coach Jon Gruden said. "It'll be the tight ends. It'll be our whole team. … But when Donald does have a chance to block him, we have to count on him being at his best because Julius is hot and he's a heck of a player."

Waiting game: A Monday night kickoff has already caused some alterations to the schedule, with the Bucs conducting a rare Saturday practice. And it means game day will be a long day for players whose routines include playing mostly day games. The problem for coaches is whether to leave players to themselves Monday at the team hotel or keep their minds occupied. The Bucs will opt for the former.

"Game day is the players' day the way I've always looked at it," Gruden said. "We might get them up in the early morning after breakfast and have a brief meeting or just a walkthrough. But the hay is in the barn after that evening meeting on Sunday night. We'll give our guys the opportunity to relax, watch a movie, be together and get ready to play."

Injury report: The injury list remained unchanged, with defensive end Gaines Adams (hip) listed as questionable but almost certain to play, Gruden said. Defensive tackle Jovan Haye (knee) is listed as doubtful and is not expected to play.

more panthers: Carolina owner Jerry Richardson, 72, has been readmitted to the hospital, a month after surgery to implant a pacemaker. Doctors planned tests to determine why he is feeling ill.

More NFL

Bills: Rookie defensive end Chris Ellis (ankle) went on injured reserve. Defensive lineman Corey Mace was activated from the practice squad.

Cowboys: Running back Marion Barber (toe) did not travel with the team to face the Steelers today, reported.

Saints: Running back Deuce McAllister and defensive end Will Smith rejoined the team after U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson on Friday blocked their four-game suspensions under the league's antidoping policy.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers focus on limiting resurgent Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers 12/06/08 [Last modified: Monday, December 8, 2008 11:45am]
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