Buccaneers want to bring the heat

TAMPA, Fla. -- Lovie Smith is known as a defensive coach. He also might be a defensive person.

Smith got a little defensive Wednesday as he talked about why his Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been practicing during the hottest part of the day.

“I understand other teams practice early in the day to avoid the heat,’’ Smith said. “No, you’ve got to get ready for it. The only way to get ready for it is to practice in it. We’ll continue to do that and it will be an advantage for us.’’

Even after breaking training camp, the Bucs have continued to practice in the afternoon. The past two days have been particularly hot with the heat index reaching above 100 degrees.

There’s logic behind Smith’s practice schedule. The Bucs open the regular season with two home games (against Carolina and St. Louis) that will begin late in the afternoon.

“It has to be an advantage for us,’’ Smith said. “I know, I’m new to the area, and you feel the heat. It does make a difference. Late in the year – Green Bay, Chicago, those outdoor teams have an advantage over warm-weather teams that come up. We feel like we have the same. Not feel like. We do. It will affect our game and we need to be ready.’’

Smith said the extensive practice in the heat should give his team an edge. Detractors may say Smith runs the risk of wearing his team out.

“I guess they’ll think that way and we’ll kind of see who ends up getting the better end of it,’’ Smith said. “Again, I think you have an advantage when you train in an environment. That’s not going to shock us at all and it will shock an opponent.’’