TAMPA — As much as the postponement of Sunday's Bucs season opener at Miami to November sets up a grueling stretch of games 16 weeks in a row, it also provides for injured players a much-needed extra week to get back to full strength.
"This is working out perfectly," LB Kwon Alexander said Wednesday after the postponement due to Hurricane Irma was announced. He was held out of practice for two weeks with a hamstring injury.
"I need a little more time myself, but I'm feeling well and was ready and practicing (Wednesday), but without the game now, it's even better. I can get all the way back to where I need to get."
The game against the Dolphins was moved to Nov. 19, which was both teams' bye week. The Bucs now opener their season Sept. 17 against the Bears at Raymond James Stadium.
The Bucs had all 53 players on the active roster practicing Wednesday — a rare feat any time of the season — and are required to take four days off as part of what is now their bye week. Their next practice is scheduled for Tuesday.
"It helps me tremendously," said OT Demar Dotson, who sat out two weeks with a groin injury before returning to practice this week. "I wasn't feeling 100 percent. With the extra week, it gives me an opportunity to get back to 100 percent.
"It's bittersweet because you never want to play 16 straight games. You look forward to that bye week, no matter when it is, as a chance to rest up, get your mind back and prepare for the later stretch of the season."
Pro Bowl S T.J. Ward, who joined the Bucs over the weekend and signed a one-year contract Monday, now has an extra week to learn a new playbook and put himself in position to know the defense he's stepping into.
"It's great," he said. "Coming in the manner in which I did, it was rush hour, but now I get an extra week. It might hurt on the back end with a 16-game stretch, but it gives me another week to get ready for Week 1, and that's a blessing. I'm definitely going to stay in my playbook as much as possible, watch film as much as possible and try to catch up."
Still three left
Moving the opener against the Dolphins to November means RB Doug Martin still has three games remaining on his suspension for violating the league's police on performance-enhancing drugs. He'll now miss games against the Bears, Vikings and Giants. What's more, he can't return to practice until after the Giants game, when he'll have only four days to practice before the Bucs host the Patriots on a Thursday night in Week 5.
The Bucs continued to tweak their opening roster, waiving DL Channing Ward and signing DE Will Clarke, who had four sacks last season with the Bengals. Clarke played under current Bucs defensive line coach Jay Hayes in Cincinnati from 2014-15.
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Contact Greg Auman at firstname.lastname@example.org and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.