TAMPA — Ronde Barber will play his first regular-season game at safety for the Buccaneers on Sunday. But that's not what will make the day special.
Entering his 16th season, Barber will make his 200th straight start, extending his record among active defensive backs.
"That's a lot of starts," Barber said Wednesday. "To me, it's another start; I've been fortunate to be able to do this for a long time. I've got an organization that's believed in me for 14 years, or however many years that streak goes over. So it's a little bit of an honor but I'm preparing for it like any other week.
"Some people would say luck's involved; I think your answer would be luck might be a part of it but other factors, too. I've been fortunate not to be hurt, certainly. But I don't believe in luck. I'm a guy who takes care of the things I need to take care of and prepare myself every week."
The Bucs are commemorating the occasion with free parking and half-price concessions (excluding alcohol) and a Barber gym bag for every fan. Barber says he's just excited for another opening day in the NFL.
"Absolutely. There will be a lot more fanfare surrounding me of course (with) Ronde Barber Day," Barber said. "So it'll be something special. I've gotten more requests than I've ever had for any game, but that's just part of it. Like I said, it's nice to be recognized for an achievement."
CORNERING THE MARKET: The Bucs re-signed CB Brandon McDonald to their 53-man roster and released G Derek Hardman. McDonald, 27, played in 13 games for the Lions last season. The Bucs also signed G Julian Vandervelde to the practice squad and released WR Bert Reed, a former FSU standout.
Tampa Bay has 11 defensive backs on its active roster compared to 10 offensive linemen.
Coach Greg Schiano said that shouldn't be a problem. "At the end of the day you are only going to dress seven or eight (offensive linemen) anyway," he said. "So we are able to practice. We are not putting a load on anybody.
"Defensive back, we have a couple guys that have nagging little things, and you know (the Panthers, Sunday's opponent) are going to play three wideouts and they are going to do those things. We have to be able to have enough defensive backs to defend them. We just want to make sure that we have the guys in house that can do it, and Mac (McDonald) is a guy who was with us and knows what we are doing and did a good job when he was here."
GAME DAY UPGRADES AT RJS: Fans who attend Bucs games at Raymond James Stadium this season will experience several game day enhancements.
The team announced Wednesday that it will offer free Wi-Fi, top-of-the-line game production, a new replay system and bolstered customer service.
"We're leaving no stone unturned in our efforts to maximize home-field advantage and make Sundays memorable for our fans," said Brian Ford, vice president of business administration.
Bucs fans also will experience a "Bucsparilla" pregame parade with the team's Gasparilla float manned by Captain Fear and his Krewe that will roll through parking lots and tailgate areas around RJS, distributing beads and other prizes.
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Clubs will open an hour earlier and close an hour later than they did in 2011, and both entrances include a box office ticket service concierge stationed to answer any questions.
SELLOUT OR BLACKOUT?: The Bucs declined to disclose how many tickets remained to avoid a local television blackout of Sunday's game. The Bucs said on Friday they needed to sell 9,000 tickets by 4:25 p.m. today to reach the 85 percent general threshold to avoid a blackout. The fact the organization won't comment on how many seats remain could be an ominous sign.