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London welcomes Bucs with uncharacteristic rain, wind and cold

Bucs believe they have prepared well for long trip, time change, fatigue that might come with traveling overseas.
Rookie linebacker Devin White (45) watches special teams practice over a dreary sky in London as the Bucs practiced Friday afternoon at Blackheath Rugby Club. The Bucs practiced through 62-degree temperatures and 20-mph winds.
Rookie linebacker Devin White (45) watches special teams practice over a dreary sky in London as the Bucs practiced Friday afternoon at Blackheath Rugby Club. The Bucs practiced through 62-degree temperatures and 20-mph winds. [ EDUARDO A. ENCINA | Tampa Bay Times ]
Published Oct. 11, 2019
Updated Oct. 11, 2019

LONDON — The Bucs were welcomed to London by dreary skies, cold temperatures and swirling winds, holding their only Friday practice in the United Kindom at a historic rugby club.

If the Bucs play flat Sunday against the Carolina Panthers at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the team’s preparation for the trip will come under scrutiny, as would be the case with any trip like this one. But coach Bruce Arians has planned this itinerary out for months, leaning on the team’s sports science department to ensure the Bucs are ready to perform despite a short trip.

They practiced at Blackheath Rugby Club in Eltham about an hour’s drive from central London. Blackheath, founded in 1858, is home to the oldest open rugby club in the world.

Related: RELATED: Bucs-Panthers in London: Gerald McCoy vs. Ndamukong Suh, again

The Bucs practices on an outdoor turf field in uncharacteristic cold — the temperature was 62 degrees but 20 mph winds made it seem more blustery.

They weren’t in Tampa anymore.

“It was fun to get out in the rain and the cold and a little bit of wind, almost hurricane action,” Arians said. “It was fun, a really good practice. ... (Wind was a factor) today. The ball was moving 2 or 3 yards at times. I thought (quarterback) Jameis (Winston) threw really really well in the wind today. I was a little concerned about the turf, but guys were really flying around.”

Arians deflected questions about the timing of his team’s arrival. Two years ago, he brought the Cardinals here for a week, and lost 33-0 to the Rams. Last week, the Bears arrived in London later in the week and lost 24-21 to the Raiders.

After his team flew across the Atlantic to London overnight, Bucs coach Bruce Arians finds a seat as his team warms up on Friday afternoon at Blackheath Rugby Club.
After his team flew across the Atlantic to London overnight, Bucs coach Bruce Arians finds a seat as his team warms up on Friday afternoon at Blackheath Rugby Club. [ Tampa Bay Times ]

Bucs receiver Chris Godwin said the team’s sports scientists had a good plan for them.

“They made sure we were ready and we were able to get ample sleep on the plane and were comfortable,” Godwin said. “It’s not like we had to hop up off the plane and came right to practice. We were able to get our legs back and wake up, so I think they did a good job.”

On Saturday, the Bucs will have a light day, going through team meetings and a walk-through inside their hotel ballroom.

It will give players an opportunity to explore London, but Arians warned against it and the possibility of getting tired legs the day before the game.

“I discourage walking around the day before the game. You need to be resting,” Arians said.

Related: RELATED: London calling? Bucs should refuse to answer

Two key defensive starters added to injury report

Outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett (oblique) and rookie safety Mike Edwards (hamstring) appeared on the injury report for the first time this week and are listed as questionable.

Losing either player for Sunday would be a significant hit for the Bucs.

Edwards injured his hamstring in the Bucs’ first preseason game and did not play again in the preseason.

Barrett, who entered last week’s game with an NFL-best nine sacks in four games, was limited to just two tackles in last Sunday’s 31-24 loss in New Orleans.

Offensive line matters

Rookie center/guard Nate Trewyn made the flight to London with the team and was added to the 53-man roster from the practice squad. He will replace guard Zack Bailey, broke his left foot on Thursday and was placed on injured reserve.

With right guard Alex Cappa and right tackle Demar Dotson both out, the addition of Trewyn gives the Bucs seven healthy offensive linemen.

Arians said he was pleased with how guard Earl Watford and tackle Josh Wells, who will fill in for Cappa and Dotson, respectively, practiced this week.

“They did fine,” Arians said. “They’re both pros. It’s not like they’re rookies. They’ve played before. ... Those two guys, I have all the confidence in the world in.”

Miscellany

• If you weren’t a Mike Evans fan, you might be now. Evans arrived at Friday’s practice and signed autographs for about 15 minutes for a group of 30 students from a local school, then when he saw they had to watch Bucs practice from beyond a fence, he asked if they could get a closer vantage point on the sideline.

• Arians’ post-practice news conference was held in a room that doubles as a pub, complete with a dozen taps. Asked whether the liked the idea of taking the podium within 50 feet of a pub, Arians deadpanned: “Not without a beer in my hand.”

Contact Eduardo A. Encina at eencina@tampabay.com. Follow @EddieInTheYard.