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Bruce Arians blasts report suggesting Bucs have relaxed COVID protocols

“Our guys are doing everything they’re supposed to be doing,” the Bucs coach said.
Bucs coach Bruce Arians has promised a $14,000 fine each time an unvaccinated player isn't wearing a mask when required, or is violating any other COVID-19 protocol.
Bucs coach Bruce Arians has promised a $14,000 fine each time an unvaccinated player isn't wearing a mask when required, or is violating any other COVID-19 protocol. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Jul. 27
Updated Jul. 27

TAMPA — Even as national recommendations regarding coronavirus mitigation fluctuate, Bucs coach Bruce Arians insisted Tuesday his organization’s policies are clear.

And he took great exception to a report the team wasn’t following its own rules.

In a profane opening statement to reporters following Tuesday’s practice, Arians blasted a Pro Football Talk report suggesting the team requires unvaccinated Bucs players to wear yellow wristbands at practice, while vaccinated players must wear red ones. The report went on to note a number of players had no wristbands during the inaugural training camp workout Sunday.

Nonsense, Arians indicated.

Warning: The following video clip includes profanity.

“If I give you some information, know the f---ing rules before you put it in the press,” Arians said.

“Red and yellow bands, they don’t have to wear them in practice; that’s for indoors. I’ve got to read s--t (that) we should be fined for red and yellow bands because they’ve got them on at practice — that’s bulls--t. If you’re going to report s--t, make sure it’s f---ing right.”

Minutes later, when asked if he finds it difficult adhering to society’s ever-changing mitigation policies, Arians said, “Not at all.”

In a 2020 season that featured a handful of postponed games and some rosters being ravaged due to positive tests, the Bucs remained a glowing example of COVID-19 mitigation. None of their games were postponed, and only a handful of front-line players (linebackers Devin White and Shaquil Barrett, tailback Ronald Jones) appeared on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

And even those were brief stints; White and Barrett each missed only a game.

“We’ve known these rules for a while, and our guys are doing everything they’re supposed to be doing,” said Arians, who has promised hefty fines for unvaccinated players who violate team protocols. “I’m just really pissed at some of the reports saying we’re not.”

A solid second half

A day after bemoaning his team’s performance in the second half of practice, Arians briefly took his team inside the AdventHealth Training Center’s indoor facility Tuesday to simulate halftime.

The respite yielded rewards. “I thought that break worked,” Arians said.

The starting offense and defense each had solid moments following the break in an extensive 11-on-11 period. Drawing the heartiest ovation from the audience of roughly 1,000 was a pair of Tom Brady completions to Rob Gronkowski. The first came with Lavonte David in coverage. The second, a throw over the middle two plays later, resulted in a touchdown of about 15 yards.

The defense won the next possession, with Brady overthrowing Tyler Johnson on the left sideline on fourth-and-long.

“I’m going to be pissed if one side wins all day; that’s never good,” Arians said. “That’s why I thought it was a real good practice.”

Murphy-Bunting: I played hurt all season

Turns out, cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting’s schizophrenic 2020 season featured one consistency: injuries.

The third-year veteran, who followed an underwhelming regular season with a franchise-record-tying three postseason interceptions, detailed his assorted ailments to reporters following Tuesday’s practice.

They included a pulled groin (in Game Two), a left-ankle issue, dislocations in both thumbs and a right-ankle problem entering the playoffs. Murphy-Bunting never missed a game.

“I was hurt, obviously it showed,” said Murphy-Bunting, who had one regular season pick and was exposed early in a late-season triumph in Atlanta.

“But you’ve got to fight through stuff like that. I’ve never been a guy that sits out a game for injuries, whether it’s an ankle or finger or anything like that. I’m a competitor, so that’s the mindset that I’ve always had.”

Odds and ends

Receiver Chris Godwin attended Tuesday’s practice, albeit mostly as an observer wearing no helmet. ... Veteran receiver Antonio Brown, who arrived late at the first two practices, was an on-time arrival Tuesday but participated only in individual work. ... Safety Antoine Winfield Jr., who missed the first two practices with a false positive test for COVID-19, was a full participant Tuesday. ... Third-round draft pick Robert Hainsey, a three-year starter at right tackle for Notre Dame, said he’s working out almost exclusively at center.

Contact Joey Knight at Follow TBTimes_Bulls.

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