Buccaneers, Jets ready to rumble in American Bowl

Updated: July 31, 2003, 4:07 PM ET

TOKYO -- Warren Sapp has only been in Japan for a day but already he likes what he sees.

"The sushi here is a lot better than in the States," Sapp, the centerpiece of the NFL's best defense last season, said Thursday as the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers prepared for Saturday's American Bowl with the New York Jets.

"The players all have two questions: Where's the speed train and where's Mount Fuji?"

The trip to Japan is part of an effort by the NFL to broaden the appeal of American football in foreign markets. In the past, NFL teams have traveled to places as Osaka, London, England, Barcelona, Spain, Berlin, Germany, Mexico City, Mexico and Dublin.

Saturday's game at Tokyo Dome will be the 12th American Bowl played in Japan. Last year the Washington Redskins thrashed the San Francisco 49ers 38-7 at the Osaka Dome in western Japan.

Along with Sapp, Japanese fans will get to see Brad Johnson throwing to Keyshawn Johnson, who led the Buccaneers in pass receiving (76 receptions, 1,088 yards).

The Jets feature Chad Pennington, the top-rated quarterback in the NFL last season.

"I'm excited to be here," said Pennington. "We practiced in the Tokyo Dome this morning. It's a great place to watch football and I just want the fans to come out and enjoy the show."

The Jets got off to a 1-4 start last season and Pennington took over in Week 4 when veteran Vinny Testaverde went down to injury. With Pennington, the Jets won seven of their last 10 and went to the playoffs.

"We played with energy, passion and camaraderie and really came together as teammates," said Pennington. "Our goal is to be where Tampa Bay is right now -- Super Bowl champions of the world."

For the American Bowl, each team has one Japanese player on the roster. Wide receiver Yoshinobu Imoto will get some work with the Jets while linebacker Shinzo Yamada will be lining up for the Buccaneers.

Both Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden and New York coach Herman Edwards said they will stick with the basics for Saturday's game.

"We have some new plays but they're still in the lab and not ready for consumption yet," said Gruden.

Gruden hinted that some members of the best defense in football could move to the other side of the ball in Saturday's game.

"Warren (Sapp) plays offense, Anthony (McFarland) plays offense and we've experimented with Ronde Barber," added Gruden. "We're very excited about our offense and the New York Jets will provide a great test for us."

Edwards said he hopes Imoto will get a chance to show what he can do.

"We have some plays designed," said Edwards. "But our hardest job will be when our young quarterback comes into the game to execute those plays against the best defense in football. Hopefully Tampa Bay will relax and let Imoto catch a few balls."

Organizers say they expect at least 35,000 people.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index