"It's a dream come true," said wide receiver Mike Evans, who grew up in Galveston, Texas.
"It's a real big deal for me," said fullback Jorvorskie Lane, from Lufkin, Texas.
A trip to Texas is a rarity for the Bucs, who haven't played in the state since facing the Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium on Sept. 23, 2012. Tampa Bay last played in Houston on Dec. 9, 2007, when NRG Stadium was known as Reliant Stadium.
Evans and Lane spent their college years at Texas A&M, located about 100 miles from NRG Stadium. Both anticipate large followings at the Week 3 matchup Sunday, with Lane planning for 25 friends and family members attending and Evans more than 80.
"They weren't my favorite team," Evans said of following the Texans from Galveston, located about 50 miles from Houston. "But they were the closest professional team."
The Bucs feature plenty of people with Texas ties who will be in a similar situation as Evans and Lane. Six players, including defensive tackle Henry Melton (Grapevine) and defensive end Jacquies Smith (Dallas), are from the state. Coach Lovie Smith was raised in Big Sandy, located east of Dallas. Cornerback Sterling Moore played at SMU.
Sometimes, Evans and Lane find themselves missing Texas. The return Sunday will give them a little taste of their home state, even if it's brief.
"In Galveston, everything is so close," Evans said. "Everything is like three minutes from each other. So that's what I like. I like everything close."
"I miss it all the time when I'm in Tampa trying to find some good food," said Lane, who said he has a hard time finding quality barbecue, catfish and pecan pie.
Come Sunday, a homecoming of sorts will deliver satisfaction in more ways than one.