The Super Bowl is easily the biggest event in American sports, and the two-week buildup to the big game is usually filled to the brim with press conferences and a wide variety of extravagant spectacles. However, thanks to COVID-19, that has not been the case for Super Bowl LV. Despite the unnatural atmosphere surrounding the Super Bowl, Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians sees a bright side to the abnormal Super Bowl environment.
Bruce Arians: “Normal, But So Abnormal” Super Bowl Week Is “Great For Preparation”
Speaking to reporters via Zoom on Friday, Arians noted that the past two weeks of practice have been surprisingly normal for them. Arians, a two-time Super Bowl champion, knows all about the typical craziness and theatrics surrounding the Super Bowl. However, with COVID-19 canceling or minimizing the festivities, Arians says that the game is “like an away game for [the Kansas City Chiefs] and for us it’s a home game.” The head coach also said that the lack of media requirements is “great” for preparation and makes things easier for both teams.
For the first time in the Super Bowl era, Tampa Bay has the luxury of playing the big game in front of a home crowd. Under normal circumstances, this would create a fantastic home-field advantage. Of course, the Buccaneers won’t have a full stadium of fans, but Arians still believes that there is an advantage to having the Super Bowl in Tampa. The head coach said this was like a home game and specifically mentioned the advantages associated with being able to practice “on our fields, in our locker rooms, [and] eating our own food.”
Overall, this unique Super Bowl atmosphere combined with the home-field familiarity should help some of Tampa Bay’s inexperienced players shake off the nerves and get ready for the big game. However, Arians knows that playing in the Super Bowl will make anyone nervous, no matter what the buildup is like. Arians understands this excitement, but also preached to his team that they need to “control their emotions until game time.” If there’s anyone that can successfully get this message across, it’s two-time Super Bowl champion Bruce Arians and six-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady.
With two weeks of practice in the bag, Arians decided to turn Friday’s full-speed practice into a glorified walk-through, as the coach said the team “had enough full speed workouts” throughout the season. Basically, Arians believes that if they haven’t figured it out by now, then they never will.
Tampa Bay’s two biggest injuries are tight end Cameron Brate and wide receiver Antonio Brown. Brate suffered a back injury on Thursday and wasn’t able to practice Friday. The team currently has him listed as questionable and all signs point towards Brate being a true game-time decision. If he’s not ready to go, then the team will turn to Rob Gronkowski and Tanner Hudson at tight end.
Antonio Brown missed the NFC Championship Game with a knee injury, but he should be ready to go for Super Bowl LV. The talented wide receiver practiced in full on Friday and hasn’t had any sign of trouble since ramping up his workout. Barring something completely unforeseen, he should be on the field as the third or fourth option in the passing attack.
In other injury-related news, Lavonte David continued to practice in full and, as expected, will earn the start for the Super Bowl. Safeties Antoine Winfield and Jordan Whitehead are healthy and ready to go, while Ndamukong Suh and Jason Pierre-Paul missed Friday’s practice. However, this isn’t anything to worry about, as both players received veteran’s days off on a regular basis throughout the season.
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