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Bruce Arians, 67, plans to be 'real careful' coaching amid pandemic

Bruce Arians once left coaching for health reasons before returning to the sideline.

The 67-year-old cancer survivor understands he's at a higher-risk level during the COVID-19 pandemic but doesn't plan to step away from coaching this season.

"I got to be real careful," Arians told Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. "I'll probably double with a mask and a (face) shield. You know, because l already had my scare out there (in Arizona) once a couple of years ago.

"For me personally, I've got a plan and I just have to be smart enough to stay with it."

Arians has had cancerous tumors removed from his prostate, skin and kidney. He retired from coaching in Arizona after 2017 due to health considerations. But after one year in a TV booth, he returned to coach the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

With Tom Brady and a Super Bowl contender under his tutelage, Arians isn't stepping aside this year due to the pandemic -- as we'd seen some MLB assistant coaches do upon baseball's return.

Arians is one of the oldest coaches in the NFL, along with Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll (both 68). He also has several older assistants on his staff: Offensive consultant Tom Moore is 81; safeties coach Nick Rapone is 64; and quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen is 64.

"Tom is probably the healthiest one of all of us," Arians told Stroud. "We've got to be careful. The players, they're going to all get sick, that's for sure. It's just a matter of how sick they get."

The Bucs have already had a COVID-19 case within the building this offseason. Arians glowed about the job Bucs director of athlete performance Greg Skaggs has done implementing protocols for the staff to mitigate the spread down the line. Arians knows it's on coaches to set the example for players when they eventually return to the building.

"Skaggs is on top of this. He's done a great job with all our protocols," Arians said. "I brought the staff in for that reason, to make sure they all bought into the protocols, that we all walked the right way in the hallways and had our masks on. I jumped on a bunch of their asses because the players aren't going to do it if we don't do it."

Arians noted he's had conversations with some of his top players -- emphasizing staying home in the coming weeks before showing up for training camp. The veteran coach hopes the adjustments to the season will be minimal, but knows 2020 will be a different year for the NFL.

"I don't think it will look too different other than I will still wear a mask for sure," Arians said. "And we'll see how the headsets work and stuff talking through a mask. That part of it. And being outside.

"Being in an indoor stadium, that worries me a bit more. And I'm really concerned about the away hotels and away locker rooms. That's a big point of emphasis. The ventilation in those locker rooms is terrible with guys getting out of the showers and getting treatment."

Given his health history, it behooves Arians and the Bucs to take extra precautions wherever possible to ensure their entire staff and players remain healthy through the season.

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