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Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians to wear mask, shield on sideline

Bruce Arians is following every precaution necessary during the ongoing pandemic, but he refuses to allow it to keep him from coaching in his usual style.

Arians, a three-time cancer survivor, told reporters Tuesday he will wear a mask and a shield -- and he'll do so from the sidelines.

"There was never a doubt I was going to coach," Arians said, per NFL Network's Mike Giardi.

The coach added there was "no chance" he'd coach from the press box in order to limit his exposure to other people amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a season as promising as this one could be for the Buccaneers, it's easy to see why Arians wouldn't want to spend a moment of it out of his comfort zone. The coach begins the 2020 campaign with a new quarterback who happens to be widely considered as the greatest to ever play the position, and he's brought with him one of the most reliable and productive targets of his career.

"You guys know when he walks in the huddle it is different," Arians said of Tom Brady, via WFLA's Gabrielle Shirley. "He has got six rings and it is different not only on offense but on defense ... [Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski] have a pretty good resume."

Combine that resume with the promising receiving corps that includes two young studs in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, and a tight ends room that also has its fair share of pass-catching playmakers, and you've got plenty of reason to mask and shield up in pursuit of success.

That pursuit will look different beyond the clothing worn by the coach. Arians said he'll split his team into two practices to get more reps to younger players in OTA-style fashion in order to make up for lost offseason reps. He's still considering isolating a third quarterback in case of emergency, too, though that decision will depend on a better understanding of safety protocols.

There will be no dining out on the road, and Arians won't be frequenting his favorite bars and restaurants like he usually does. Discipline, the coach said, will be more important than ever.

Still, though, the risk-related concern remains for some involved with the NFL, including a key lineman in Arians' offense. Donovan Smith, who has been vocal with his concerns, is expected to report on time, Arians said, adding he respects the players' right to opt out if they want to.

No matter what they individually decide, they can count on their coach being ready to chase a title, mask and shield and all.

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