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Wyche takes steps to guard against letdown

Sam Wyche wants his Tampa Bay football team to become the cowlick of the NFL _ it won't lay down.

To guard against such a setback, he staged a tantrum after practice Thursday and left his team to ponder which direction the season would take.

He resorted to reading newspaper articles about the Bucs' demise after a 4-2 start in 1990 during team meetings. He promised to be a pain in the backside all week, and he delivered just the way he scripted it.

Wyche toyed with his roster, signing ex-Bengals running back James Brooks to plug in for the injured Gary Anderson, who will miss today's game and maybe more if he requires shoulder surgery.

Brooks could see extensive action against the Colts, who are healthy and hailing the return of quarterback Jeff George.

"It'll be a big boost for them," Wyche said. "They're coming off a bye week. They're smarting from defeat. They're getting more accustomed to a new coaching staff. We have to show that we can handle winning."

Young Colts

Today will mark the first game this season that all 22 Indianapolis starters are healthy. George, who spent four weeks on injured reserve with a sprained thumb, is the third Colts quarterback to start a game this season.

Indianapolis opened the season behind No.

3 quarterback Mark Herrman and beat Cleveland 14-3. Surprisingly, Herrman was rewarded by being released the next week after No.

2 quarterback Jack Trudeau signed a new deal.

In two starts, Trudeau has completed 10 of 19 passes for 114 yards, no TDs and two interceptions while the Colts lost 20-10 to Houston and 38-0 at Buffalo.

"It certainly has slowed us down," Colts coach Ted Marchibroda said of the injuries. "Jeff received the majority of the work in training camp. We really have not played a football game where we've been at full strength."

The legend grows

Bucs rookie defensive end Santana Dotson has enjoyed quite a career this month. He is second in the NFL in sacks with 6 and returned a fumble 42 yards last week for a touchdown in Tampa Bay's 27-23 upset at Detroit to earn NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors.

Dotson even has a song named after him produced by WYNF and sung to the tune of You've Got to Change Your Evil Ways, by (who else) Carlos Santana.

But perhaps the most impressive stat of all, considering that the Bucs chose him with the 132nd pick overall, is that Dotson has more sacks than the six defensive linemen selected in the first round of the draft _ including the first pick overall by Indianapolis, Steve Emtman. Those six linemen had combined for three sacks.

Dotson is already nearly halfway to the rookie sack record of 12{ set by San Diego's Leslie O'Neal in 1986.

Dotson has company on the Bucs when it comes to rookie sensations. Defensive tackle Mark Wheeler has a sack in each of his last two games. Together, the rookie duo has eight sacks in four games _ more than the entire total of sacks by 11 other teams.

Home cooking?

The Bucs have not committed a single offensive penalty at home, but in their last two games on the road, they have been called for 18 infractions.

Wyche credits the noise in the Metrodome and Pontiac Silverdome for some of the discrepancy while also blaming the lack of consistency among officiating crews.

"Part of it is the domes," Wyche said. "You cannot avoid that as an answer. That crowd noise is going to cause a few jumps and a few miscues. So if you're late, you're going to reach out and have a few holding penalties as a result of it. The other answer is, all officiating crews are different. Some crews are more apt to call holding.

"It's like hitting the perfect drive in a divot. You've got to play it out. But I don't think we've done anything different."

To cut down on the false starts by the offensive line on the road, Wyche instructed his guards to hold hands with the tackles during the snap count so the outside blockers wouldn't jump too soon. The idea was hatched by offensive-line coach Bob Wylie.

Did you know?

The Bucs have scored 20 or more points in four consecutive games for the first time since 1987. The team record is five in the final five games of 1981. Ironically, the Colts are the last team Tampa Bay failed to score 20 points against. Through four games, the Bucs have yet to allow a rush longer than 14 yards or a 100-yard rusher. Kicker Ken Willis leads the NFC in points scored with 35 and has converted 73 consecutive extra points.

_ RICK STROUD

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