The waiting begins for Bucs on eve of Super Bowl 55

Bruce Arians’ team finished its final on-field preparations and moved to an undisclosed Tampa hotel.
Rows of cardboard cutouts of fans fill the stands at Raymond James Stadium Saturday in Tampa, where the NFL is preparing the stadium for Super Bowl 55.
Rows of cardboard cutouts of fans fill the stands at Raymond James Stadium Saturday in Tampa, where the NFL is preparing the stadium for Super Bowl 55. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Feb. 6, 2021|Updated Feb. 6, 2021

TAMPA ― One of the biggest disappointments to this unusual NFL season has been the inability for families to completely share in the Bucs’ journey to Super Bowl 55.

Due to the pandemic, the AdventHealth training facility has been restricted to players, coaches, members of the organization and some media this year.

The Bucs concluded on-field preparations with a 35-minute practice in the indoor facility Saturday. It was the kind of “simulated game” the Bucs utilized during the regular season.

“On a normal Saturday, we would have all the kids and families in here,” coach Bruce Arians said. “That’s one thing I really, really miss this year. I love watching the kids play ball and run around and watching their dads practice. That was one of the hardest things about this year.”

Every player participated Saturday, including receiver Antonio Brown (knee) and tight end Cameron Brate (back), who are listed as questionable for Sunday’s game.

The Bucs checked into an undisclosed Tampa hotel where they will have dinner and hold meetings Saturday before busing to Raymond James Stadium Sunday afternoon.

Arians said he planned to address his team one final time as a group Saturday night, although he hasn’t prepared any Knute Rockne speeches.

“I’ll talk (Saturday night),” Arians said. “It’s not very long. We watch a video that we have a lot of fun with from our last game when we win, then the offense, defense and special teams will meet in the morning.

“Like I told them, if you need a speech to get fired up to play football, you’re in the wrong game. I have to laugh when people bring in speakers and stuff. I don’t know the message they’re going to bring. There’s only one voice in this one.”

Arians, who was an assistant coach in three other Super Bowls, said he has no trouble sleeping the night before the big game.

“It’s just another game,” he said. “It is the biggest one. But the preparation is done, so you just need to go play.”

Arians said he felt the Bucs got better during the two weeks of practice following the NFC Championship Game.

“There’s no doubt,” he said. “There’s still a new concept here or there, or this is what they did and this is how we’re going to handle it this time. So it’s all still learning and that part never stops.”

More meetings are planned following breakfast Sunday until the team takes buses from the hotel to the stadium.

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