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Bucs should get perks for London trip

4/19/2011

We all know today is the day the NFL announces the 2011 regular-season schedule. We also already know the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will “host’’ the Chicago Bears in an Oct. 23 game at Wembley Stadium.

Well, that last part is going on the assumption that a new labor deal is in place by Aug. 1. If not, then that game will be moved to Raymond James Stadium.

Anyway, as we wait to see which NFC South teams get prime-time games and how many they get, there’s one other thing we can pretty safely assume. That’s a bye for the Buccaneers the weekend of Oct. 30.

That won’t be set in stone until the schedule officially is released. But recent history has shown the NFL generally rewards teams who play in the London game with a bye the following week and the Bucs got one after their trip overseas in 2009. They almost certainly can count on that again this year and a bye week in the middle of the season is generally considered the ideal time by most coaches and players.

It also will be interesting to see what the Bucs get the week before the London game. The league usually tries to be sensitive to teams before they have to make the long trip. That could mean a home game, and the flight from Tampa to London is basically a jaunt up the Atlantic seaboard with a big right turn somewhere around Boston. I’m looking at Tampa Bay’s road schedule and I think you can pretty much rule out a trip to San Francisco, Green Bay, Minnesota or New Orleans the week before London.

It remains to be seen if the Bucs will leave late in the week or if they’ll go early. When the Saints went to London in 2008, they played a game in Charlotte and left directly from there for London. So it’s possible the Bucs could be given a road game at Jacksonville, Atlanta, Tennessee or Carolina the week before London because they wouldn’t have to fly far out of their way to get to any of those venues.