By Rick Stroud, Tampa Bay Times
Pro Football Writers of America
TAMPA — There may only be a crowd of approximately 25,000 fans inside Raymond James Stadium Sunday during Super Bowl LV, but Bucs coach Bruce Arians wanted his team to practice Thursday with artificial crowd noise.
During the 1 hour, 45-minute workout, the volume was pumped up on loudspeakers for both the offense and defense.
The Bucs practiced outdoors at the AdventHealth Training Center Thursday under clear skies, little to no wind and with temperatures at 55 degrees and warming rapidly.
Arians said he is concerned communication could be a problem Sunday. During the regular season, mostly empty stadiums made it easier to communicate, he said.
“I’m hoping there will be some crowd noise when we’re playing defense because our guys are used to talking to each other,” Arians said. “They’ve talked to each other all year and now all of a sudden, they’ve got to use hand signals.
“The offense, we used (crowd noise) a bunch before we went to Green Bay, and it was loud as hell up there.”
Several injured Bucs players continued to progress and practiced without incident, including receiver Antonio Brown (knee), safeties Antoine Winfield, Jr. (ankle) and Jordan Whitehead (shouder) and linebacker Lavonte David (hamstring). Whitehead once again wore a black non-contact jersey.
Outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul (knee), who did not practice Wednesday, returned on Thursday on a limited basis. Defensive tackle Steve McLendon took a “veteran’s day off,” Arians said.
One player who was added to the injury list was tight end Cameron Brate, who has a back strain and was limited.
“We’ll see how (Brown’s) knee swells tomorrow,” Arians said. “That was our last full day of practice. We’ll see how sore Jordan is.”
In complying with practice protocols, the Bucs players wore splash guards inside the face masks of their helmet.
The Bucs scout team defense is doing its best to simulate the Chiefs’ high-powered offense.
Arians said Codey McElroy is playing Travis Kelce’s tight end position on the look squad. McElroy played college baseball and basketball.
Receiver Cyril Grayson, an All-American sprinter at LSU, has been playing the role of Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill.
“He a 4.25 (40-yard dash) guy,” Arians said of Grayson.