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Bucs keeping eye on Tropical Storm Fred ahead of preseason opener

Bucs Notes | The looming system could make for a wet preseason contest Saturday.
Bucs defensive players, including Sam Renner (77), Khalil Davis (94), K.J. Britt (52) and Antonio Hamilton (22) take the field for Wednesday's practice at AdventHealth Training Center.
Bucs defensive players, including Sam Renner (77), Khalil Davis (94), K.J. Britt (52) and Antonio Hamilton (22) take the field for Wednesday's practice at AdventHealth Training Center. [ ARIELLE BADER | Times ]
Published Aug. 11
Updated Aug. 11

TAMPA — The Bucs continue to monitor the looming tropical development that could prompt them to reconsider giving a cameo to every projected starter Saturday evening.

The system initially known as Potential Cyclone Six became Tropical Storm Fred late Tuesday night. Currently, it’s expected to make landfall on — or pass by — the bay area Sunday morning, though its intensity if and when it arrives here remains uncertain.

The latest consensus among local meteorologists is that Fred will likely not be a hurricane, and may not even be a tropical storm, by the time it reaches our coast.

“That thing is still under watch,” head coach Bruce Arians said after Wednesday’s practice. “Whether (the game) will be moved to Friday or Sunday or whatever it is, but we’ll probably just play in a hell of a lot of rain.”

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m., and Arians has said all starters will play at least a few snaps. That plan, obviously, could change if rain batters the area on Saturday night.

Leftwich absent Wednesday

Offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich was absent Wednesday due to what Arians called a “very personal thing,” prompting the head coach to direct the offense at that morning’s practice.

Leftwich’s absence was not related to COVID-19, Arians added.

“I’m not sure when he’ll back, but hopefully by Saturday,” Arians said. “But we’ll wait and see. ... It’s all personal.”

Brate back in the fold

Sidelined the first 13 training camp practices for an unspecified issue, tight end Cameron Brate spent much of those workouts hanging with the quarterbacks and lobbying position coach Clyde Christensen to give him a look as emergency QB.

“I was a quarterback in the eighth grade,” the seventh-year veteran joked Wednesday. “We went 1-7 and I didn’t play the game we won, but I’ve still got a good arm. I pitched in high school, so I feel like I’ve got some tools to work with, that’s for sure.”

Finally cleared for practice earlier this week, Brate has returned full-time to his own position group, where he hopes to increase his snap counts as the days progress. The Harvard alumnus estimates he logged 10 plays in team work Wednesday after getting only four in his first day back Tuesday.

“(The injury) was just something I kind of was working through toward the end of the offseason,” said Brate, who totaled 14 receptions and a touchdown in the 2020 playoffs. “It just took a little longer than I expected. But I feel like I’m in a good spot now, and hopefully I’ll have no issues and will be all systems go.”

Miscellany

Tailback Leonard Fournette, among the few unvaccinated Bucs, indicated Wednesday he’s close to getting his shots. “We’re almost there,” he said. “I want to make sure that I don’t jeopardize the team or also myself, so still talking to the doctors. We’re on it, and the more we talk about it, the more information I find out about it, I get more comfortable with it.” ... Safety Jordan Whitehead didn’t practice for the second day in a row Wednesday. When asked Tuesday if his injury is serious, Arians said, “We got to wait and see.” ... Rookie Robert Hainsey, listed as second-team center on the Bucs’ first depth chart of 2021, remained sidelined Wednesday with an unspecified injury. Hainsey hasn’t practiced in more than a week.

Related: Is the Bucs 2002 defense worthy of four Hall of Fame players?

Contact Joey Knight at jknight@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.

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