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Tampa Bay Buccaneers skip weekend off after Patriots rout

Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman throws incomplete while fending off Eric Moore on Thursday.

CHRIS ZUPPA | Times

Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman throws incomplete while fending off Eric Moore on Thursday.

TAMPA — Bucs coach Raheem Morris didn't lose his temper. There was no volcanic eruption when addressing his team over the weekend, but he did let off a little steam.

Morris had planned to give Bucs players two days off. But after Thursday's 31-14 preseason meltdown against the New England Patriots, he scheduled practices for Saturday and Sunday.

The first workout was washed out by a thunderstorm and replaced by a weightlifting session. Sunday, Morris extended a 70-minute practice by half an hour and had players in helmets and shoulder pads.

"You get them in (the meeting room), and you cuss them out," Morris said. "We were going to have two days off, but after a loss like that, you want to get them back on the field as soon as possible.

"I wasn't upset about the stuff they missed because of scheme and things of that nature. What you get on them about is that we got beat physically. You never want to lose the one-on-one battles. That kind of sets the tone for the whole thing."

The Bucs trailed New England 28-0 at halftime and were ineffective on both sides of the ball while their starters were in the game. Some breakdowns came as a result of the Patriots' blitzes that the Bucs had not specifically prepared for during the week.

In addition to losing physical battles, the Bucs had too many mental errors and committed 10 penalties for 85 yards in the first half.

"One hundred percent, it was definitely needed," center Jeff Faine said of the weekend work. "It's something where we could knock a little of the cobwebs out and get it out of our system and get ready for Miami (on Saturday).

"The third game is always the greater game in the preseason, one we're going to prep for, and hopefully this practice was able to shake away the Pats game a little bit."

Quarterback Josh Freeman was responsible for both sacks Thursday by missing protection calls, and he failed to get the ball to receivers on hot reads in blitz situations. Morris said he challenged Bucs receivers to beat bump, man-to-man coverage. The loss of 14 organized workouts during the NFL lockout might be partly responsible for the lack of sharpness, and Morris predicts teams will blitz early and often this season.

"Josh held the ball because we've seen that he can do those things and make plays," Morris said. "He came to the sideline saying, 'I know, I know.' Last year, he knew Mike Williams was going to win those battles. You don't want to take that out of him. But he knew he held on to it too long."

On Sunday, the Bucs had an extended blitz period with the starting offense against the starting defense. After a couple of long days of practice and meetings that followed the short night Thursday, Faine said the Bucs were refocused.

"It wasn't that we had 10 penalties because we didn't game plan," Faine said. "It wasn't that they brought anything exotic that we hadn't seen before, either. It was stuff we should've been able to pick up all day long, and it was stuff we should've been able to see, and we just didn't get it done.

"We're going to bounce back. It was a good practice (Sunday)."

Morris said the Bucs will prepare more for the third preseason game against the Dolphins and starters should play into the third quarter. While the outcome still won't count, how the team performs means something.

"This is the most important game of the preseason, I believe," Faine said. "Obviously, you don't want to hear that coming out of a player's mouth. It is. It's the one we're going to play the most amount of time. We (starters) won't get many reps in the fourth game, if any. So this is kind of the last opportunity to play under the lights and get ready for the regular season."

Tampa Bay Buccaneers skip weekend off after Patriots rout 08/21/11 [Last modified: Sunday, August 21, 2011 8:38pm]

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