Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris has become more like a fitness instructor to his offensive lineman.
Whenever Morris decides his team needs to go into the hurry-up offense, Tampa Bay's five linemen undergo a version of boot camp. They must run to the line of scrimmage, get set, block, head downfield and then do it again.
All while carrying about 300 pounds each.
Tampa Bay's offensive line is hoping to avoid another Morris exercise class against Atlanta on Sunday.
"It's not something we like to do, but it's something we have to do," LT Donald Penn said. "Looking at that game (last) Sunday (against Minnesota), you could tell which team was in better shape toward the end. We had those guys on their heels. The whole D-line was gassed. We kept going.
"We did it a lot last year. We did it a lot this year. I think it's a great tool to be able to hop in there and still be successful. I prefer not to be in it if we don't have to. When we are in it, as long as we are moving that ball and making it work, I'm all with it."
Despite having to go to a hurry-up offense in the second half of two games, QB Josh Freeman has been sacked only once in 47 pass attempts. Tampa Bay has also outscored opponents 31-10 in the second half.
"It can be tiring," RT Jeremy Trueblood said. "I'm not saying it's not tiring. You find yourself sometimes breathing a little heavier than you should be sometimes.
"Raheem says it all the time, 'Be good in every situation.' It's just something we all have worked at. We work at everything, but we're trying to be good all-around players."
The Bucs view free agency a little bit differently than most teams, seeing it as a way to correct mistakes made in the draft. And that they did with the decision to sign free agent punter Michael Koenen to a six-year, $19.5 million contract in August.
The Bucs made up not only for the mistake of spending a 2010 sixth-round pick on Brent Bowden, but the subsequent signings of Chris Bryan and Robert Malone. After two weeks, the Bucs not only accomplished their mission, but weakened a division rival with one stroke of the pen.
Koenen, who left the Falcons, heads into Sunday's game against his former team ranked seventh in the league in punting average at 49.3 yards. His replacement in Atlanta, rookie Matt Bosher, is ranked 31st at 36.8 yards.
"I know they miss him, because the guy's averaging 45-50 yards a punt and he's kicking it out of the end zone every time,'' Bucs DT Gerald McCoy said of Koenen, who also handles kickoffs and has five touchbacks, four more than the Bucs had last season. "He's just a great player.''
Bucs LB Quincy Black (ankle) is doubtful for Sunday's game against Atlanta, while TE Kellen Winslow (knee) and DE Tim Crowder (calf) are questionable. WR Sammie Stroughter (foot) and T James Lee (knee) are out.
Black was injured last week at Minnesota. As a result, LB Dekoda Watson will make his second NFL start. Watson's first start was last season against Carolina, and he had four tackles and three special teams tackles.
"Quincy is doubtful right now," Morris said. "We'll see. You guys know how we work around here. We want to get them out there and get them active."
Anwar S. Richardson, Roy Cummings