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Dunn practices, expects to play against Atlanta

Rookie RB Warrick Dunn (hamstring) returned to practice but was limited in Thursday's workout before fatigue forced him to retire early. Dunn should play in Sunday's game at Atlanta. If he is not available, Errict Rhett could see his most significant playing time this season.

Coach Tony Dungy said Rhett's role is not likely to change unless there is an injury to Dunn or FBMike Alstott.

"What's hard is trying to say it in a different way so people can understand it's the same answer," Dungy said. "Warrick and Mike will play. If Errict is needed, he'll play. If he plays, I'm sure he'll play well.

"He's in the same situation Reggie Brooks was in last year. Reggie backed Errict up and didn't get to play very much because Errict was doing pretty well and he was our No.

1 back."

Rookie WR Reidel Anthony (ankle) did not practice but could return to workouts today. TE Jackie Harris (groin) has not responded quickly to treatment and will be a game-time decision. Alstott (wrist) and P Sean Landetta (lower back) practiced.

For the Falcons, LB Jesse Tuggle (ankle) and CB Ronnie Bradford are questionable. LB Ruffin Hamilton (back), C Roman Fortin (ankle), DE Lester Archambeau (groin) and FB Bob Christian (knee) are probable.

KEEPAWAY: If you're looking for a reason for the Bucs' turnaround, consider how little they have been bitten by the turnover bug.

Tampa Bay is tied with five teams for the fewest giveaways in the league with nine. That's 11 better than last year's 20 after nine games.

"That's one of the things I thought we would do well from Day 1 when we got here," Dungy said. "That was the blueprint to winning, that you cut down on your mistakes and don't turn the ball over. Don't give up the big plays, get turnovers on defense and play well on special teams. You'll win a lot of games.

"Last year, we had the special teams part of it going pretty well, but we turned the ball over much more than I thought we would. This year, we're not turning the ball over, but we're not getting as many as I thought we would. Offensively, we're doing a good job with that."

The biggest improvement has been fewer interceptions by QB Trent Dilfer, who has thrown six.

"You turn the ball over a lot in games when you're behind in the third and fourth quarter and you've got to take unnecessary chances to catch up," Dungy said. "You turn it over when you're a little bit careless early in the game, or when you're too fired up. I think that was the case for a lot of us last year.

"Our backs don't fumble very much, we protect the passer and Trent has gotten more confidence in what we're doing. He's not throwing interceptions. That really helps."

WHAT'S IT ALL MEAN?: Preseason games are meaningless, but you have to wonder whether Atlanta's 17-12 victory against the Bucs in August has any significance.

When starters were pitted against starters, Atlanta rushed for 137 yards in the first half. In Sunday's rematch, will those results be a factor, or is a preseason game strictly for show?

"These count. That's what it's all about," DT Warren Sapp said. "That was about 12 weeks ago. That's a long time ago. You really don't think about preseason games."

Sapp conceded, however, stopping the run will be a primary factor. The Falcons' Jamal Anderson had a breakout game last week, rushing for 159 yards against the Rams. LB Hardy Nickerson said combine that with what Atlanta did in the preseason game, and it isn't a memory you can toss aside.

"They have run the same plays from then until now and last week they were successful running the ball and we didn't play the run all that well last week," Nickerson said. "They're probably in their meeting room right now saying "Hey, we can run the ball on the Bucs and these are the plays we're going to run.' "

_ ERNEST HOOPER, RICK STROUD,

CHRIS ROTAR

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