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Barber, for now, is NFL's sack king

After his 2.5 sacks Sunday against the Bears, cornerback Ronde Barber sits on the top of the NFC, along with Redskins defensive end Marco Coleman, with 3.5.

"So, he's ahead of (Washington's) Bruce Smith and (St. Louis') Kevin Carter," coach Tony Dungy said. "I don't know if he can keep that pace going, but he's done a great job of timing and utilizing the blitzes the coaches had put together. He's made a lot of things happen."

Of course, as well as Barber has played, the corner blitz has been most effective when opposing offensive linemen have had to spend time figuring out how to handle the likes of Warren Sapp and company.

"I think the guys kind of like the fact that (defenses) can't really zero in," Dungy said. "Part of the reason for the success in blitzing is that we have a good feel on the protection that they are going to slide to and double-team Warren, and we could do some things on the other side away from Warren. We could rush three men because we know what the protection is going to be."

GOT TO GET YOURS: The Bucs could have had another turnover early in the third quarter when Bears quarterback Cade McNown threw a sideline pass that went straight to safety Damien Robinson.

But Robinson, with nothing but 48 yards of empty field to run, dropped the ball.

"Damien has got to catch his," Edwards said. "If he catches his, he walks in and then it's a real big game. "When he walked off the field, he was just shaking his head. You can't come back to the sideline. You sit on the bench over there where we're sitting? Oh, they're ripping him. The poor guy. After a while, I said, "C'mon, guys. Leave him alone.' He's got to continue to play."

LYNCH: After signing a five-year, $24-million contract extension, safety John Lynch emphasized the importance of continuing to help the community. In fact, before Monday's news conference, Lynch and his wife, Linda, had just come from the first board meeting of the John Lynch Foundation.

"Linda and I will commit $100 for each tackle, $1,000 for each win, $500 for each interception _ thank God I'm not Donnie Abraham _ and $500 for each sack," Lynch said.

DEXTER'S LABORATORY: Second-year safety Dexter Jackson returned to practice and seems likely to play against the Lions. Jackson, who sustained a severe right ankle sprain in the preseason game against the Dolphins, said his ankle is about 93 percent healed but likely will be bothersome for some time.

"It's something I'll have to deal with the whole year," Jackson said. "It's been real tough, especially having a year under my belt. I started out playing great in the preseason and the injury came and that's part of being a pro, how you respond from an injury."

_ ROGER MILLS, RICK STROUD, ERNEST HOOPER

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