TAMPA, Fla. — A year ago, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers opened the season in an empty Superdome in New Orleans.
But when the Bucs kick off the season Thursday night against the Dallas Cowboys, there will be nearly 67,000 screaming fans inside Raymond James Stadium. To simulate that noisy game-day atmosphere, Monday’s practice was moved to the indoor facility.
“We worked on crowd noise today,” Bucs defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul said. “It was very loud. We had to be extra loud with our calls. I think we are ready to go.”
“We were able to handle it really well with the communication,” Bucs linebacker Lavonte David said. “The great part about it is everyone is on the same page and everyone knows what to do.”
The Tampa Bay defense needs to be ready for a prolific Cowboys offense that has enough firepower to match the Bucs touchdown for touchdown.
“They have a really talented group with CeeDee Lamb, Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, Zeke, Tony Pollard, the tight ends, the offensive line,” David said. “Dak, obviously. It presents a challenge.”
Buccaneers' defensive coordinator Todd Bowles said the best way to stop that offense is “don’t play them.”
“They are talented,” Bowles added. “They have wide receivers, tight ends, running backs, the offensive line is good and the quarterback is great. It’s going to be a good challenge.”
But what Dallas won’t have is a six-time pro bowl offensive lineman in Zack Martin. Martin will miss Thursday’s game after testing positive for COVID-19. That bit of news has Pierre-Paul literally licking his chops to get to the quarterback.
“I’m going to be like this all day,” Pierre-Paul said while licking his lips. “At the end of the day, I don’t worry about no (offensive) tackles. I ain’t worried about no (offensive) tackles!”
Pierre-Paul is expecting to have a disruptive day on the Bucs defensive line. He’ll also get some help. Defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh was activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list and will be eligible to play on Thursday night.