After two interceptions in Sunday's 20-17 win in Detroit, Bucs cornerback Ronde Barber was the center of attention. Even his teammates were praising his play.
Now the league has come on board.
Barber, in his fifth season out of Virginia, was named the NFC defensive player of the week. Barber had seven tackles and four passes defensed.
"It's exciting, I guess it's well-deserved," Barber said. "There were some things I didn't do well in the game too. But I guess the bigger plays stood out."
"He had a lot of big plays with two interceptions that stopped scoring drives," coach Tony Dungy said. "He's been doing that all year for us."
Barber has a team-high five interceptions on the season, a personal season high and second in the NFC.
"Week in and week out, he's on the top of his game," Dungy said. "He makes very little mental mistakes. He's had some chances this year with balls in the air, and he's taken advantage of them."
HEY, GET YOUR OWN NICKNAME: Pro Bowl fullback Mike Alstott isn't too happy that Bears rookie running back Anthony Thomas is nicknamed the A Train. Alstott, in his sixth season out of Purdue, has been called the A Train since his days with the Boilermakers.
"I've been in the league six years and I have the name established," Alstott said. "(Then) somebody tries to come in and take the name? They can say he got it in college but I had it in college also."
Thomas has been having quite a rookie season. At the halfway point, he has 580 yards on 127 carries and 4 TDs. He also has 14 receptions for 133 yards.
Still, Alstott doesn't appear too willing to share the moniker.
"It's insulting," Alstott said. "There's only one A Train."
McFARLAND'S BACK: Defensive tackle Anthony "Booger" McFarland returned to practice Wednesday, the first since straining his right medial collateral ligament Oct. 28 in Minnesota.
"You just go play," McFarland said about returning to action after missing two weeks. "You go out there and do what you normally do. We have a plan set, in place in terms of what to do in practice and we go with that and see how it feels the next day. Then do it again and see how it feels Friday and so on until Sunday and then you go out and play."
McFarland took part in some of the drills and suffered no setbacks.
"He did well," Dungy said. "We held him out of some of the team work but he actually did his individual work really well and got in some of the inside running drills and I think (the knee) held up well. As he starts to get his confidence back, he'll be fine.
"All indications are that it went pretty well. If he doesn't have a setback (in the next few days), he should be ready."
OTHER INJURIES: Defensive tackle Warren Sapp had swelling on the left knee Tuesday and the team opted to keep him out of practice Wednesday. Sapp injured the knee late in the Detroit game and should be ready by Friday.
Receiver Jacquez Green (left groin strain) still has tenderness in his lower abdomen and was not 100 percent. He practiced Wednesday and is expected to run more today. Dungy said a decision on Green will be made by Friday.
Linebacker Nate Webster has a left rib bruise and is questionable. Cornerback Donnie Abraham (lower back bruise) returned to practice at full speed and is listed as probable. Linebacker Derrick Brooks (left foot sprain) and running back Warrick Dunn (right turf toe) are probable.
ROSTER MOVE: The Bucs added former Florida linebacker Eugene McCaslin to the practice squad to provide depth at linebacker with Webster unlikely to practice this week. McCaslin, from Chamberlain High in Tampa, was a seventh-round draft pick of the Packers last year, released at the end of training camp and re-signed to the practice squad. He made his NFL debut against the Bucs in the regular-season finale.
_ ROGER MILLS