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Bucs journal: Looking for an identity

By Rick Stroud
LOREN ELLIOTT | Times Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter argues with an official after defensive pass interference was not called on a pass to wide receiver DeSean Jackson (11) during the second half of an NFL game between the Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Sunday, Oct. 29, 2017.

TAMPA ó The Bucs added several new faces in key places during the offseason. The changes may not have had as much as a positive effect as they had hoped. In some ways, QB Jameis Winston said, the Bucs are victims of identity theft.

"I think this team has to find its common ground and Ö weíre still learning what that is," he said Thursday. "Last year, there was a point in the season where we found our identity. Weíre still trying to develop our identity and use it to get better.

"Any time you have new pieces to the puzzle, youíre always seeing how you can work it. Iím ready for us to go ahead and find our identity."

Tampa Bay added two free agents, WR DeSean Jackson and DT Chris Baker. They also used a first-round draft pick on Alabama TE O.J. Howard.

Coach Dirk Koetter did not want to speculate on what Winston was referring to.

"I wasnít here for that, so Iím not sure what he meant," Koetter said.

When asked if he thought the Bucs have found their identity, Koetter said "Itís tough. Ö When youíre 2-5, itís not the identity you want. Ö Every team has its own identity, and it changes from year to year. Right now, our team is not where we want to be, so of course everybody is searching for the reasons why. The reasons why that we keep saying every day is that weíre not playing consistent-enough football across the board. When we do play consistent football across the board and we donít beat ourselves, we will have an excellent chance to win games."

McClain, Robinson back

DBs Robert McClain and Josh Robinson, who did not play Sunday against the Panthers, were cleared from the concussion protocol, coach Dirk Koetter said.

Two weeks ago at Buffalo, the Bucs started McClain at cornerback and used Vernon Hargreaves in the slot when the Bills went to three receivers. Hargreaves returned to his old position Sunday and played well against the Panthers. Koetter would not say what the plan was for Hargreaves and McClain for Sundayís game at New Orleans.

"We are just trying to get our best 11 guys on the field where we think they have the best chance to help us this week," Koetter said. "Obviously, I canít tell you that because Iíd also be telling the Saints that."

WR Adam Humphries (ribs), LB Kendell Beckwith (knee) and QB Jameis Winston (shoulder) were limited in practice. DT Chris Baker (ankle) had full participation.


Coach Dirk Koetter said the Bucs had no plans to activate QB Ryan Griffin (shoulder sprain) from injured reserve. "The only way that would happen is if we were under some general concern more than normal that we would need a third quarterback this week, which we arenít," Koetter said.

The Bucs have until Wednesday to activate Griffin or he will remain on IR for the rest of the year.