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Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Game in London means one fewer in Tampa

TAMPA — The Bucs better break out their passports.

The NFL's next international game will feature the Bucs against the Patriots on Oct. 25 in London, the league said Monday.

But the showcase comes with a price for the Bucs because they are giving up a game that would have been at Raymond James Stadium. It's probably not going to be a popular move among coaches, but organizationally, the Bucs say it's acceptable.

"You do give up a home game," GM Bruce Allen said. "Giving up a home game and playing in a neutral site isn't like having to play an away game. So, there is some cost to that. But it's going to be a neutral site for both teams, so it's a good challenge."

The league uses a formula to compensate teams who lose revenue associated with a home game, Allen said.

Commissioner Roger Goodell, a big proponent of playing and potentially expanding abroad, said after taking the job two years ago that every team would play overseas within 16 seasons. Next season's game at Wembley Stadium will mark the NFL's third in three years there, following the Giants and Dolphins in 2007 and the Saints and Chargers in October.

Allen said season tickets for 2009 will be sold as a nine-game package (seven regular-season and two preseason games), with prices adjusted accordingly. The team plans to make packages available to fans who want to travel to the London game.

The selection of the Bucs isn't surprising given ownership's ties to Britain. The Glazer family owns soccer club Manchester United, one of the world's most famous and valuable franchises.

The Bucs certainly didn't catch a break in facing New England, which will presumably have QB Tom Brady back, but Allen found some humor in it.

"Well, we couldn't schedule Wichita State," he cracked. "They're not in our league. I think it's two of the premier franchises in our league. We have very visible head coaches (Jon Gruden and Bill Belichick) and hopefully it will be a good matchup."

Tough assignment: Slowing down the Panthers' running game is central to winning Monday night in Charlotte, N.C. Carolina averages 133 rushing yards per game and has a formidable duo in RBs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart.

"Their run game is very, very good (and) creative," Gruden said. "Two-back sets, one-back sets, they run it on third and 8, third and 9 for big plays. They do a heck of a job running the football."

The Bucs rank ninth against the run and have allowed a league-best one rushing touchdown.

Injuries: DE Gaines Adams sustained a hip pointer against New Orleans and will be evaluated, Gruden said. Perhaps more serious is the unspecified knee injury to starting DT Jovan Haye. Unlike Adams, he did not return, and Gruden hinted his availability is in doubt.

In talking about Haye's possible replacement, Gruden said, "Ryan Sims goes in and plays two different positions and plays well whether it is 12 plays or 18 plays. He might have to play 60 plays on Monday. I don't know."

Stephen F. Holder can be reached at sholder@sptimes.com.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Game in London means one fewer in Tampa 12/01/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 3, 2008 1:42pm]
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