People in Tampa Bay are slowly getting their lives back to normal after Hurricane Irma.
And what is more normal in Florida than NFL football on Sundays?
This week isn’t just a season opener against Chicago. The Bucs realize taking the field at Raymond James Stadium will provide some sense of relief for a community still picking up the pieces.
“Sporting events bring people together," said fourth-year wide receiver Mike Evans. "It brings the city hope. Brings a lot of people hope. We’re excited to get out there are give our fans something good to watch."
“Can a city rally around football? Yeah, we’re not us without our city," said Buc defensive tackle Gerald McCoy.
"I think everybody is just excited to see football in Tampa again. We’re excited, fans are excited and it’s a getaway. I know for me, football is a getaway from my everyday life."
"I think it will be awesome to have a home game and bring everyone together and watch some football and take their mind off what just happened," said wide receiver Adam Humphries.
Sunday the Bucs were spectators, whether they evacuated or not.
Will they be rusty? The starters haven’t played since preseason game number three. It will be 22 days in between game snaps.
"Everytime you play the first game of the season, it’s going to stun your body," said defensive coordinator Mike Smith. "It doesn’t matter what kind of shape you are in."
"At the the end of the day, you don’t forget how to play football," said Bucs tackle Donovan Smith. "It’s just about the matter of going out there and wanting to compete and play your butt off. That’s what we are gonna go do."
"I don’t see there being any problems," said Mike Evans. "We’re professionals and we’ve been waiting to play, so we’re going to go play."
They are facing last year’s back-up QB Mike Glennon. Defensive coordinator Mike Smith anticipates what he called a “fun little chess match.”
"We had Mike Glennon throwing against our defense all the time," said Mike Smith. "There would be days where I’d come of the field and say we’re not going to be able to stop anybody. Mike just cut us up."
"Mike’s a note taker," said head coach Dirk Koetter. "I’m sure he remembers stuff about our defense and at the same time I think we know Mike." "When Mike left, we had an oath that he was sworn to secrecy but we will see if he upholds it."