The offensive line of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, frustrated by last week's struggles, is eager for redemption in tonight's preseason matchup against the New England Patriots.
The Bucs were limited to six first downs and 81 total yards in a 30-7 loss to Tennessee. LT Donald Penn makes his preseason debut after recovering from a calf injury, and Tampa Bay's experienced front is determined to own the line of scrimmage.
"This is kind of a dress rehearsal for a real game," said G Carl Nicks, who indicated Tampa Bay's starters will play three quarters against the Patriots. "We want physicality. We expect better, and we know we can do better. We want to push the line of scrimmage. At the end of the day, we want to be tougher than them."
The Bucs remain one of the NFL's youngest clubs, but the offensive line is a veteran, well-paid group with lofty expectations.
"I'm very excited about our line, but we've been built up in the past and we haven't lived up to it," Penn said. "We're trying to be the silent assassins this year, flying under the radar. We've got to stop talking about it. It's time to go out and do it.
"We've got two great runners back there (LeGarrette Blount and rookie Doug Martin), and we have to make them look good. We have a chance to have two 1,000-yard backs if we do our jobs up front. No more talking — time to produce."
DeMar Dotson filled in for Penn at left tackle during training camp, with Penn offering veteran advice while rehabbing.
"I'm anxious to knock off the cobwebs," he said. "My hat's off to Dotson — he answered the call."
The Bucs ended their two days of joint practices with the Patriots with the sense it was time well spent.
"It was definitely beneficial to practice against the AFC champs," Bucs CB Aqib Talib said. "They practice how they play. They play up-tempo and they practice up-tempo. It was good work for us to see where we are as a team."
Thursday's session was light duty for starters from both teams, consisting basically of a walk-through by the No. 1 units.
"These practices gave us an opportunity to have great work against one of the highest-caliber teams in the NFL," Bucs general manager Mark Dominik said. "It gives you a chance to evaluate your players against players from another team, so there's a benefit."
The Patriots were a welcome change for Bucs WR Mike Williams.
"When you go against your defense every day and then you get someone else to come in and show you a different look, it forces you to make adjustments," Williams said.
"It was great having the AFC champs come in here. Hopefully we can be the defending NFC champs next year and practice with another team."
The Bucs waived three undrafted rookie free agents: DE Quintin Anderson, WR Armahd Lewis and G Michael VanDerMeulen. … To honor the upcoming birthday of "Pillow Lady" Jackie Riles, who greets Bucs players and coaches when they arrive at Raymond James Stadium, the club has reserved a private suite for Riles and her son, Pat, to watch tonight's game. … If the Patriots win 14 games this season, coach Bill Belichick will vault into sixth place in all-time NFL coaching wins (206), passing Chuck Knox, Dan Reeves and Marty Schottenheimer.