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Notebook: Bucs Wearing 'Throwback' Orange On Sunday

When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers take their home field on Sunday against the Green Bay Packers wearing their "throwback" orange uniforms, you may wonder when the last time was that the Packers faced their old NFC Central Division foe in those duds in the Florida sunshine. Well, it was actually a somewhat significant game in the history of both franchises. - More Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Nov. 5


In this 1994 photo, Green Bay defenders Bryce Paup (95) and Sean Jones (96) take down Tampa Bay quarterback Craig Erickson in a game at Tampa. The Buccaneers' uniforms featured the orange colors through the 1996 season.

When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers take their home field on Sunday against the Green Bay Packers wearing their "throwback" orange uniforms, you may wonder when the last time was that the Packers faced their old NFC Central Division foe in those duds in the Florida sunshine.

Well, it was actually a somewhat significant game in the history of both franchises. It was the 1996 season opener, played on Sept. 1 in Tampa, when the Packers thrashed the Buccaneers, 34-3.

Not only did that game start Green Bay on its run to an eventual Super Bowl championship, it also marked the first game for Tampa Bay with Tony Dungy as head coach. Dungy would eventually lead Tampa Bay back to respectability, qualifying for the playoffs four times in six seasons after taking over a team that had been sub-.500 for 13 straight years prior to his arrival.

This Sunday, the Buccaneers are wearing their throwbacks in honor of their 1979 team that reached the NFC Championship Game and also to commemorate the induction of defensive end Lee Roy Selmon into the team's ring of honor.

While that 1996 season opener was certainly forgettable for Dungy and the Bucs, it was an early sign of just how dominant a team the Packers had that year. Running backs Edgar Bennett and Dorsey Levens combined for 110 rushing yards, while tight end Keith Jackson caught three touchdown passes, one of them a 51-yarder.

The defense forced six turnovers, including four interceptions by Tampa Bay quarterback Trent Dilfer, and held the Buccaneers to just 176 total yards.

The Packers played the Bucs one last time in their orange uniforms, on Oct. 27 of that season at Lambeau Field, a 13-7 Green Bay victory.

The following season, Tampa Bay changed its uniforms from orange and white to the red, pewter and black the team currently wears. The helmet logo also changed from the old buccaneer face to the skull and crossed swords on a red pirate flag.

Ready to return

Head Coach Mike McCarthy hasn't yet announced who's starting at offensive tackle this week, but by all accounts veteran Mark Tauscher is ready to step in at right tackle if he gets the call.

Tauscher is now in his fourth week of practice since signing with the team, and has been a full participant of late. He's been taking most of the snaps with the No. 1 offense so far this week, with current starter Allen Barbre also rotating in.

Tauscher, coming back from a second reconstructive knee surgery in his career, said he's getting to the point where he fully trusts his knee, and he hasn't had any problems with the full contact in practice. How it will respond in a game is another question, but one that can't be answered until it's all for real.

"It's just a process that you go through," Tauscher said. "You can't simulate playing football. There's nothing you can go do on the outside that you can simulate. In practice, we practice fast and we do everything, but as far as game speed and things like that, that's something I haven't done in quite a while. So when my opportunity comes, I need to get into the swing of things as quick as possible."

Tauscher hasn't played since injuring his knee in Week 14 last season. He was out of football until re-signing with the Packers on Oct. 12, right after the bye week.

He admitted he can't honestly say he's the same player he was before the injury until he gets out there and plays, but that's simply the next step. He's not even thinking about where the season goes from here.

"To be honest, it's been such a long process that I don't look at anything more than ... I'm thinking about this meeting, the rehab afterwards, and tomorrow's practice," he said. "My mindset is day to day."

Former teammate in the spotlight

Tampa Bay rookie quarterback Josh Freeman, who is getting his first NFL start on Sunday, was a teammate of Green Bay receiver Jordy Nelson at Kansas State. During Freeman's sophomore season of 2007, Nelson was a senior and caught a 122 passes for 1,606 yards, both school records, from what Nelson described as a "cannon" of an arm.

"It will be interesting to see what he does, to see how much he's improved since I was at K-State with him," Nelson said. "I'm happy he was there, because I think he helped get to where I am, and I hope I helped him get to where he is."

Nelson will miss the game due to a knee injury, but he said Freeman bought him some extra tickets so some of Nelson's family and friends could see his first NFL start. At just 21 years old, Freeman is "more mature than what his age is, especially on the field," according to Nelson, and he's curious to see how he'll react to facing Green Bay's 3-4 defense.

"He's got a good arm," Nelson said. "He knows what he's doing, he's a smart kid, he understands football. So it will be interesting to see how much they try to put on him early."

Heat wave

The Packers have been practicing in 30- to 40-degree weather for the past couple of weeks, but they'll be playing in 80-plus temperatures down in Tampa this Sunday.

The forecast calls for low 80s, and if that holds true, it will mark just the third game in the McCarthy era played in such warm weather.

{sportsad300}The Packers are 1-1 in the previous contests. They battled through temps in the high 80s back in October of 2006 to get a victory down in Miami. Then last year, the temperature was 81 at kickoff in Tampa when the Packers lost to the Buccaneers.

McCarthy noted earlier this week that the weather can play a factor when northern teams travel south and vice-versa, but the team is taking the necessary steps to prepare ahead of time.

"It doesn't have to be (an issue)," linebacker Aaron Kampman said. "You hydrate, starting now. That's been the message. Obviously it's a different climate, but a lot of guys on the team come from Florida or down south, so they're probably welcoming that. It's guys like us that are from Iowa that might struggle more."

Injury/participation update

The only changes to the Packers' injury report were that cornerback Charles Woodson (hip) was a full participant in Thursday's practice after sitting out Wednesday, while safety Derrick Martin (concussion) did not practice after being limited a day earlier.

The rest of the report remained the same, with the following players not participating: Nelson (knee), receiver Donald Driver (neck), tight end Jermichael Finley (knee), quarterback Aaron Rodgers (feet) and center/guard Jason Spitz (back).

McCarthy said he expects Rodgers to practice on Friday, and Driver could practice too. He expects both players to play regardless of how much practice work they get in.

Nelson could be back as soon as next week, as could Finley, though McCarthy said after watching their rehab workouts on Thursday that Nelson appears ahead of Finley at this point.

Tackle Chad Clifton (ankle) was a full participant for the second straight day, and fullback Korey Hall (calf) was limited once again. Linebacker Brandon Chillar (hand) is out this week.

For Tampa Bay, cornerback Aqib Talib (ankle) and guard Jeremy Zuttah (shoulder) were upgraded from limited to full participants, while receiver Michael Clayton (wrist) was a full participant for the second straight day.

Meanwhile receiver Antonio Bryant (knee) was downgraded from full to a limited participant, and cornerback Elbert Mack (ankle) was added to the injury report as a limited participant.

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