Defensive lineman Da'Quan Bowers was among the Bucs' initial cuts Friday morning.
The Bucs have begun the process of trimming their roster from 75 players to a final 53, with defensive lineman Da'Quan Bowers among the initial cuts Friday morning.
"It's been a great ride the past 4 1/2 years in Tampa," Bowers wrote on Twitter.com. "Thanks to coach Lovie and staff for the opportunity in the preseason ... Thanks to the fans who have supported me for the past few years. Good luck to my brothers and Buc nation go get em. #BUC4LIFE."
6 p.m. update: We're up to 11 players off the roster, with four more cuts confirmed by the league's transaction wire. Patrick Murray, last year's kicker, has been waived-injured, so the team will negotiate an injury settlement with him, though another team can claim him. Tackle Patrick Omameh, who started every game last season at right guard, has been cut, impressive considering the lingering injuries at tackle, with backups Reid Fragel and Edawn Coughman sticking around longer than Omameh. The other two are rookie safety Chris Hackett -- leaving the team with just five safeties, battling for four or five spots, and receiver Tavarres King, who was outplayed by the team's talented group of rookies. …Full Story
Bucs safety Keith Tandy recovers a fumble by Dolphins running back LaMike James during the first half of Thursday night's preseason game in Miami.
Bucs safety Keith Tandy didn't need the threat of looming roster cuts to remind him Thursday could be his last game.
He learned that well exactly three weeks earlier, when his 17-year-old nephew, Jayvon Charles, was killed on his high school football field in an accident as he was moving football equipment and was struck in the head.
"I know somebody up there is watching me," Tandy said after he intercepted two passes in the final two minutes — one in the end zone — to seal the Bucs' 22-17 win over the Dolphins. "You get out there, you get away for a little bit. Sometimes I catch myself still thinking about him. He makes you realize how quick you can be gone. It makes you cherish every moment. I was tired, but I was like 'I could be at home right now.'"
Down five points, Miami and former Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman had driven to the Bucs' 18-yard line at the two-minute warning. Tandy got a boost from the Bucs challenging a call, which created a break, allowing him to rest before catching his first interception in the end zone. …Full Story
MIAMI -- So much for nothing significant happening in the final quarter of the preseason.
Midway through the fourth quarter Thursday night, Bucs general manager Jason Licht announced that the Bucs have added a key piece to their secondary, agreeing to terms with two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Tim Jennings.
Jennings, 31, who visited with Bucs on Tuesday after being released by the Bears, has no shortage of familiar faces at One Buc Place. He played three seasons for Lovie Smith and cornerbacks coach Gill Byrd in Chicago from 2010-12, played for defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier as a rookie with the Colts in 2006, and has current Bucs Chris Conte, Henry Melton and Major Wright among his former Bears teammates.
Jennings had nine interceptions in 2012, leading a Bears defense that had 44 total takeaways to lead the NFL. It's unclear whether he'll compete for a starting cornerback job with returning starters Alterraun Verner and Johnthan Banks, or as the team's primary nickel defensive back.Full Story
MIAMI -- On a night that had jobs on the line, a pair of undrafted rookies made strong cases on Thursday night to stick around with the Bucs, with kicker Kyle Brindza and receiver Adam Humphries shining in the first half.
Brindza, acquired this week from Detroit for TE Tim Wright, was given a chance to take the kicking job away from veterans Patrick Murray and Connor Barth, and did so emphatically. The former Notre Dame kicker connected on field goals of 57 and 55 yards, and consistently put his kickoffs into the back half of the end zone, perhaps securing another job.
Humphries, a rookie from Clemson, got all the first-half looks on punt returns, taking one for 9 yards, but made a bigger impact on offense, where he caught a 4-yard touchdown pass from Mike Glennon. At one point, the entire offense had 75 yards and he had 62 on his four catches. Humphries' strong showing could push him onto the roster, perhaps at the expense of sixth-round pick Kaelin Clay, who was limited by a rib injury this week. …Full Story
Bucs coach Lovie Smith is very careful about hamstring injuries, as seen by safety Chris Conte sitting out three weeks of August practices and Mike Evans being held out of the final two preseason games.
It's no different with rookie WR Kenny Bell, who had expressed optimism before Tuesday's practice about testing his hamstring, recognizing that as a player on the bubble, he needs to play in Thursday's preseason finale in Miami. Not so fast, his coach said, after Bell was limited in the opening portion of practice open to the media.
"Kenny hurt his hamstring when? Friday? He wants to test it now. Not going to happen," Smith said. "You don't come back from hamstring injuries that quick. It's good he wants to do that. I'm sure the pain is gone, but he's not quite ready yet."Full Story
John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/MCT
Tim Jennings, 31, was released Sunday by the Bears, where he had played under Lovie Smith.
Two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Tim Jennings visited One Buc Place Tuesday and could be reunited with head coach Lovie Smith and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier.
Jennings watched practice with Smith on Tuesday as the Bucs tried to hammer out a contract agreement with his agent.
Jennings, 31, was released Sunday by the Bears, where he had played under Smith. He entered the league as a second-round draft pick of the Indianapolis Colts in 2006, playing for Frazier who served as the team's defensive backs/assistant head coach. Despite enjoying his first four seasons with the Colts, Jennings blossomed as a player with the Bears, recording 16 of his 20 career interceptions in five seasons with Chicago.
The 5-foot-8, 185-pound Jennings had a league-high nine interceptions in 2012, earning a spot on his first of two consecutive Pro Bowl teams. …Full Story
OCTAVIO JONES | Times
Bucs rookie wide receiver Kenny Bell (with ball) knows he might need a strong showing in Thursday's preseason finale to stick on the team's final roster.
Bucs rookie receiver Kenny Bell, caught in a deep battle for jobs at his position, said he'll test his injured hamstring at Tuesday's practice, knowing he might need a strong showing in Thursday's preseason finale to stick on the team's final roster.
"My body's feeling pretty good. A little sore, but I'm going to head out and try to practice today and see how it goes," said Bell, the team's fifth-round draft pick out of Nebraska. "Obviously I want to be careful and smart about my body, but then again, I'm a rookie and I need to play this Thursday."
Veteran Louis Murphy has played well in preseason, leading the team with eight catches and 91 yards, and Bell is competing with fellow draft pick Kaelin Clay, as well as three undrafted rookies in Rannell Hall, Adam Humphries and Donteea Dye. Bell had two penalties in the second preseason game and has yet to catch a pass, though he did make a strong play on special teams to allow a punt to be downed inside the 5.
The Bucs cut second-year receiver Robert Herron on Tuesday, but there are still 10 receivers competing for likely six spots, so Bell is hopeful he'll be physically able to show something in Thursday's game. …Full Story
JIM DAMASKE | Times
Leonard Johnson (29) had been the Bucs' primary nickel defensive back last year, but was on the roster bubble behind starter Sterling Moore before he injured his left foot.
To get to the NFL's roster cutdown limit of 75 players, the Bucs on Tuesday waived three injured players -- nickel Leonard Johnson, receiver Robert Herron and center Josh Allen -- and placed injured defensive tackle Akeem Spence on the reserve-physically unable to perform list.
Spence, who had back surgery in July and is targeting an October return, cannot practice or play until after the sixth week of the regular season, when he can return from the PUP list.
Johnson had been the team's primary nickel defensive back last year, but was on the roster bubble behind starter Sterling Moore before he injured his left foot, which was in a cast as he watched Monday's practice. Herron, the team's sixth-round pick last year, tweaked a hamstring in pregame warmup Saturday, but didn't catch a pass in the final 10 games of his rookie year and had only two catches in preseason. Allen opened camp as the Bucs' No. 2 center, but hasn't practiced since Aug. 6 with an ankle injury.
Those four moves, combined with the release of veteran Michael Koenen, have the Bucs at 75 players, with another 22 cuts to be made before Saturday at 4 p.m. …Full Story
JIM DAMASKE | Times
Michael Koenen was due to make $3.25-million this season as one of the NFL's highest-paid punters, but ranked 32nd in the NFL in average punting and 29th in net average last season.
The Bucs have released veteran punter Michael Koenen, continuing what has been a busy week of changes to the team's kicking specialists.
Koenen was due to make $3.25-million this season as one of the NFL's highest-paid punters, but ranked 32nd in the NFL in average punting and 29th in net average last season. The Bucs could still add another punter waived by another team this week, but for now, the job belongs to Jake Schum, who was signed last week and averaged 51.3 yards on four punts in Saturday's game. His preseason average is the second-highest in the NFL.
Koenen, 33, has been the team's punter for the past four seasons -- among current players, only tackle Demar Dotson had more games with the team (70) than his 64. The Bucs hinted at the move Saturday, when Koenen played only one snap -- as holder on a missed field goal -- and Schum and Karl Schmitz each had four punts. Backup quarterback Mike Glennon had gotten a look as holder as well, and the Bucs on Monday traded for Lions rookie kicker Kyle Brindza, who could handle kickoffs if he wins the place-kicking job. …Full Story
SCOTTY SCHENCK | Times
Josh Keyes, right, grabs onto linebacker Jason Williams during training camp earlier this month at One Buc Place.
As one of eight undrafted rookies left on roster as the Bucs continue to make cuts, linebacker Josh Keyes is hopeful that a strong showing in Thursday's final preseason game at Miami can help his chances of beating the odds.
"I think Thursday's game is very important. It's my last chance to make my mark, to go out and show what I can do," said Keyes, a Boston College graduate whose last name rhymes with "size." "I'm just going to try to make as many plays as I can and we'll see what happens from there. It's really exciting."
Keyes, one of four linebackers fighting for one or two spots behind the Bucs' top four at the position, has been active on special teams -- he's playing on all four units, on punt and kickoff coverage and as blockers on both return teams. His two tackles there are tied for second behind only Russell Shepard. Other more experienced linebackers have had more tackles on defense -- Khaseem Greene has nine and Jason Williams six -- but Keyes has gotten three tackles in limited play on defense, including a tackle for loss. …Full Story
Jorvorskie Lane was limited by injuries and suspension to nine games with the Bucs last season.
Jorvorskie Lane is the only fullback remaining on the Bucs roster, but he understands in today's NFL that's not the same thing as being assured of a roster spot when final cuts are made.
"I don't take anything for granted," said Lane, limited by injuries and suspension to nine games with the Bucs last season. "I look at it as my job is always up. Everybody is kind of wishy-washing away from the fullback. I treat every day like it could be me."
Lane has had an extra motivation in camp, knowing the Bucs had used a seventh-round draft pick at his position, taking Hawaii's Joey Iosefa. The Bucs waived Iosefa as part of their first round of cuts Sunday, and Lane said the draft pick was something that drove him since April.
"Me being me, I took it real personal," Lane said. "I made sure I put myself in shape, got my injury straight. I took it personal. …Full Story
OCTAVIO JONES | Times
Jameis Winston should be close to 100 percent for the regular-season opener against Tennessee after having about two weeks to recover.
The sprained right ankle Bucs QB Jameis Winston suffered Aug. 24 against Cincinnati is affecting his ability to take drops and plant his back foot, offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter confirmed.
But Winston should be close to 100 percent for the regular-season opener against Tennessee after having about two weeks to recover. Winston is not expected to play in Thursday's final preseason game at Miami.
“It’s affecting him a little bit but he’ll be ready to go,'' Koetter siad. "He’ll be full speed by Tennessee. It’s not anything he can’t play on. With Jameis even in practice, you can’t keep him out. (Quarterbacks coach) Mike (Bajakian) is trying to slow the drills down on the side field and Jameis won’t come out. We’ll get him healthy. But he’s got a sprained ankle. If you’ve ever had one, you have to move around and cut and plant, it can be painful but he’s getting through all that.''
Winston struggled in Saturday's 31-7 loss to the Cleveland Browns, completing 6-of-15 passes for 90 yards and an interception. He was under duress most of the game and sacked four times. Winston's seven sacks are the most by any quarterback in the NFL after three preseason games.
[EVE EDELHEIT | Times]
Tight end Tim Wright during minicamp at One Buc Place in June.
The Bucs had added another name to their kicking competition, acquiring rookie kicker Kyle Brindza from the Lions in exchange for tight end Tim Wright.
Brindza, 22, wasn't drafted out of Notre Dame but has been impressive in preseason for Detroit. He's 3-for-3 on field goals, connecting from 41, 49 and 51 yards; he's 2-for-2 on extra points, he's averaged 49.3 yards on four punts (three downed inside the 20), and seven of his eight kickoffs have resulted in touchbacks. He'll now join a close competition between last year's kicker, Pat Murray, and former Bucs kicker Connor Barth, who was signed last week to challenge Murray.
The Bucs are a combined 2-for-6 on field goals in preseason, with both Murray and Barth missing field goals in Saturday's loss. Murray also missed an extra point and two field goals in the first two games.
It's the second year in a row the Bucs have traded Wright on the eve of final roster cuts. The Bucs got Wright for nothing this spring, claiming him off waivers when he was cut by the Patriots. Last year, the Bucs dealt Wright and a draft pick to acquire Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins. …Full Story
As photos showing Jameis Winston on Publix-branded Bucs roadside signs are making the rounds with national sports blogs, we can report more tasteful news of another Bucs-Publix pairing that, no, does not involve crab legs.
As an extension of the grocery store's sponsorship with the Bucs, Publix is offering fans a "signature sub" for Tampa Bay fans, with similar items on the menu for the Jaguars, Dolphins and Falcons.
For a limited time, the Bucs sub -- $8 for a whole -- has spicy jerk turkey, chiptole gouda cheese, guacamole and mango peach salsa, with a nice local flavor by including "lightly crushed plantain chips." The appetite for Publix subs in general is a strong one, and the Bucs selection seems more appetizing than the other three, as uncovered by the Florida Times-Union:
-- Jaguars: chicken tenders, bacon, cheddar cheese, sweet cole slaw and barbecue mayonaisse
-- Dolphins: chipotle chicken, mayo, lettuce, mango peach salsa and fried plantains
-- Falcons: maple-flavored chicken tenders, bacon, mango peach preserves, sriracha mayonnaiseFull Story
The Bucs made their first wave of preseason cuts on Sunday, with seventh-round draft pick Joey Iosefa and undrafted rookie Dominique Brown among the most notable names.
Iosefa, a fullback from Hawaii, played just one offensive snap in Saturday's preseason loss to the Browns. Smith, from Louisville, struggled as a short-yardage option, failing to score on four straight carries from inside the 2-yard line in Monday's win against the Bengals.
The other eight players waived by the Bucs: DT George Uko, DT Quayshawne Buckley, DE Jamal Young, CB Al-Hajj Shabazz, S Kimario McFadden, P Karl Schmitz, LS Brandon Hartson and OG Antoine Everett. The Bucs must cut five more players by Tuesday afternoon to get to the next roster limit of 75 players, with final cuts to 53 players due by Saturday.Full Story