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Tuesday, Sep 26, 2017
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  • Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs face logistics problems but will practice, play in Tampa

Coach Dirk Koetter went to his office at One Buc Place to work on Sunday, with televisions tuned to both NFL games and the Weather Channel watching Hurricane Irma.

"All good here,'' Koetter said in a text Monday morning. "Just waiting now. More anxiety.''

Koetter's wait will end soon. The Bucs are expected to announce today that Sunday's home opener against the Chicago Bears will be played at 1 p.m. at Raymond James Stadium as scheduled.

The Bucs were still working through a bunch of logistics problems Monday. First they had to wait to see what damage to the infrastructure was done in Tampa Bay the giant storm. But it appears much of the area avoided what could have been a worse wallop.

The Bucs plan to have a team walk-through workout on Tuesday evening and begin workouts and a normal schedule Wednesday at One Buc Place. The team had made a contingency plan to practice at the University of Minnesota on Wednesday. Gophers’ head coach P.J. Fleck was a receivers coach on the Bucs’ staff under Greg Schiano. But it never came to that.

A good sign came early Monday when Tampa International Airport announced that they would resume full flight and terminal operations Tuesday. The Bucs ownership chartered five small planes Saturday to take 130 football and business staff members, players, coaches and their families to Charlotte, N.C.

But many players are scattered throughout the country. Quarterback Jameis Winston is at his family home in Alabama. Gerald McCoy returned to Oklahoma. Some players returned to the west coast.

"Good morning,'' McCoy tweeted Monday. "Praying everybody is ok. And made it through the night.''

Getting 53 players and 10 practice squad members to reassemble in Tampa Bay by Wednesday is no easy task. Some will have to rely on commercial airline carriers, others may need charters. Still others could have to navigate highways strewn with debris from the storm.

That doesn’t include the support staff the Bucs rely on to operate One Buc Place and host a game at Raymond James Stadium. In some cases, homes may not be accessible or could be damaged, meaning the team will need to secure hotel space in Tampa.

The Bucs regular season opener against the Dolphins in Miami was postponed until Nov. 19. As a result, players were excused for their bye week. The Bucs planned all along to begin practice Wednesday. The Dolphins relocated about 150 staff members, players, coaches and family to Oxnard, Calif., on Friday. The team plans to practice at the Dallas Cowboys training camp practice facility before playing the Los Angeles Chargers Sunday.

But despite all the contingencies, Koetter will have his players and coaches back at One Buc Place and the wait is nearly over.

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