Bucs-Bears to play Sunday in Tampa
(TSX / STATS) -- Officials approved Raymond James Stadium for Week 2 and the NFL agreed the Buccaneers and Chicago Bears will be played as scheduled Sunday in Tampa, Fla.
The Bucs were still working through a bunch of logistical problems Monday.
First, they had to wait to see what damage to the infrastructure was done in Tampa by Hurricane Irma. However, it appears much of the area avoided what could have been a worse wallop.
"We have been working tirelessly with the Tampa Sports Authority, as well as the NFL league office, to ensure that Raymond James Stadium would be available to host our season opener against the Chicago Bears this Sunday." Buccaneers chief operating officer Brian Ford said.
"Hosting the game is important to us, as Tampa Bay has been through a lot over the past few days. We look forward to providing our fans and the entire region an opportunity to come together this Sunday to kick off our 2017 season."
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 it 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.
However, many players were scattered throughout the country. Quarterback Jameis Winston was at his family home in Alabama. Gerald McCoy returned to Oklahoma. Some players returned to the West Coast.
Getting 53 players and 10 practice-squad members to reassemble in Tampa by Wednesday will be 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 would need to secure hotel space in Tampa.
The Bucs' regular-season opener against the Dolphins, scheduled for last Sunday 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 on Sunday.
Updated September 12, 2017