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Byrd interprets Bucs' switch to Chandler

Around One Buc Place, Tampa Bay's starting quarterback switch to Chris Chandler was taken pretty much at face value _ turning to No. 2 to replace the injured Vinny Testaverde. But in San Diego, the move received a somewhat different reaction from certain quarters.

"When you're willing to make a change (like that), you feel, "We have this team. We feel we're a better team overall. We can afford not to play this individual (Testaverde),"' veteran Chargers cornerback Gil Byrd said. "That's the attitude I take. If he doesn't play, it's because they feel they're a better team than we are and they don't have to have him playing."

What, me worry?

With just three touchdowns in the past three weeks, the Bucs' offense is in the throes of a slump. But not everyone is sweating it out.

"I think we're going to come out of it," Bucs receiver Bruce Hill said. "I don't think we should even worry about it. It's not panic time by no means. We're going to make it work out."

Come and gone

Cornerback John Mangum, one of the Bucs practice-squad players, was re-signed by Chicago this week. The Bears drafted the former Alabama standout in the sixth round this season, then waived him in the final preseason cut.

Mangum, who was signed by the Bucs on Oct. 1, replaces Bears defensive back Maurice Douglass, placed on injured reserve this week. The Bucs' practice squad is down to three players _ running back Derrick Douglas, tight end Ed Thomas and nose tackle Willie Wyatt.

Those other guys

Who said Ray Perkins has a one-track mind?

Somehow, someway the busy Bucs coach found time to keep up with the events of last week's World Series. Sort of.

When asked earlier this week if Sunday's upset loss to Dallas was particularly galling because it came to an inferior team, Perkins answered: "We weren't better than them on the days we played them. That other bunch (Oakland A's) thinks they're better than the Cincinnati Reds, too. But the better bunch doesn't necessarily win. You've got to do it on the field. Last time I looked, that's where it's got to be done."

Milestones

Bucs kicker Steve Christie leads the NFL in field goals with 14. Christie, who had his club-record field-goal streak (11) snapped with a 37-yard miss in Sunday's loss to Dallas, is 6-of-6 from 20-29 yards, 7-of-9 from 30-39 yards, and 1-of-1 from 50-plus. He and Nick Lowery, Kansas City's veteran kicker, are tied for second in the league with 57 points (Cincinnati's Jim Breech has 60 points). Bucs Pro Bowl wide receiver Mark Carrier needs two receptions against the Chargers to become the fifth Tampa Bay player to reach 200 receptions. Carrier, who had the 11th 100-yard day of his career against Dallas, still trails James Wilder (430), Kevin House (286), Jimmie Giles (279) and Gerald Carter (239). With an appearance in San Diego, Buc defensive lineman John Cannon will tie linebacker Scot Brantley for sixth (114) on the team's career games played list. Running back Gary Anderson is one touchdown shy of 75 for his professional career and 30 in the NFL.

Quotable

Perkins, on the deceiving nature of the Chargers' 2-5 mark:

"San Diego is a good solid football team. They're 2-5 but that has no reflection on the fact that they're a solid football team. I haven't studied each film, but they treated the Jets like a rag doll in the Meadowlands."

Odds and ends

The Bucs' injury list remained the same Thursday _ Testaverde (toe) is questionable, and linebacker Winston Moss (foot), running back Reggie Cobb (knee) and defensive lineman Ray Seals (groin) are probable. Offensive lineman John Bruhin returned to practice. The condition of Bruhin's father, who was critically ill, has improved, Perkins said. The Bucs and Chargers are the league's two youngest squads. Tampa Bay's 47-man roster has an average age of 25.19, just younger than San Diego's 25.33. Chargers kicker John Carney should be familiar to Bucs fans. The former Notre Dame standout was with Tampa Bay for parts of the 1987-88-89 seasons. Another former Buc who now wears Chargers lightning bolts is cornerback Donnie Elder (1988-89). A Plan B signee by Miami this season, Elder was waived, then claimed by San Diego. The Bucs' Nov. 4 home game with Chicago is a sellout. The Bears game has sold out five straight seasons.

_ DON BANKS

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