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Tampa Bay Buccaneers players sharpen look as well as play

TAMPA — Whether buttoning up had anything to do with the Bucs tightening up is debatable.

But it didn't hurt in the opinion of coach Raheem Morris and some veterans. Nor did any of several subtle changes the Bucs made during the first half of the season before Sunday's win against Green Bay.

The latest change — a gameday dress code instituted by Morris — began Sunday. It required players to do away with jeans and T-shirts and instead don slacks and button-down shirts. Morris has been preaching about attention to detail, and this was one more way of driving the point home.

"You make them come to the game looking the right way," Morris said. "Make them look like winners. … There was a presence. You look good, you feel good, you play good. The old Deion (Sanders) deal.

"There are only 32 teams. This is special. So, when we come to the game, we want to look special."

RB Cadillac Williams, who voluntarily wore suits many Sundays, agreed with the move.

"That's how I dress anyway," he said. "If you act like a pro, you feel different. I think it's a good rule. And we won, so you know it's going to stay."

RB Derrick Ward said he had a dress code when playing for the Giants under coach Tom Coughlin, one of the game's strictest disciplinarians. He expressed support for Morris' decision.

On a roster full of young players, such measures could make a difference. Likewise, to make practice more serious, Morris quit having hip-hop played early in workouts several weeks ago.

Whether the changes are permanent hasn't been decided. There's only one way to overturn the new rules.

"People might want their jeans back," Morris said. "People might want their music back. So in order to do that, we've got to do some winning. We've got to turn some things around. We've got to pay more attention to detail. That was my thought process. Just tighten up the screws a little bit to get these guys to tighten up the screws a little bit."

Best guess: Wonder what happened when CB Ronde Barber allowed WR Donald Driver to fly past him on a takeoff route in the second quarter? Well, Barber diagnosed the play and was expecting a slant route.

"I jumped the slant," he said. "I was trying to get aggressive down there. When you send the tight end to the flat, there's usually a corresponding slant. But he took it up (field) on me. That was on me."

Talib update: CB Aqib Talib's misdemeanor battery case continued Monday with an arraignment in Pinellas County, and one of his attorneys waived Talib's right to appear and entered a written plea of not guilty. Another pretrial hearing will be Dec. 14, and the case could drag until after the season. Assistant state attorney Richard Ripplinger said prosecutors asked about granting permission for Talib to enter a pretrial intervention program for first-time offenders that would lessen the sentence, but the reported victim, cab driver David Duggan, didn't consent; the victim typically must agree for a defendant to go into the pretrial program.

Talib, 23, was arrested Aug. 19 after the Florida Highway Patrol said he punched Duggan in the neck and ear with a closed fist while riding from a St. Petersburg club to a Tampa hotel.

Times staff writer Joe Smith contributed to this report.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers players sharpen look as well as play 11/09/09 [Last modified: Monday, November 9, 2009 7:21pm]
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