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Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs plan to sign WR/KR Holliday

Bucs plan to sign WR/KR Trindon Holliday following his workout with the team Monday.

The 5-foot-5 Holliday was released by the Giants Oct. 6. He also played for the Texans (2010-12) and Broncos (2012-13). He runs a sub 4.4 40-yard dash. Holliday became the first player to return a punt and kickoff for a TD in the same playoff game for Denver vs Ravens Jan. 12, 2013.

The impending signing of Holliday can't be good news for rookie Solomon Patton, the undrafted rookie from Florida.

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Downtrodden NFC South leaves 1-5 Bucs still in the hunt

It was a perfect Sunday for the Bucs: they didn't lose and gained a half game on all three other teams in the NFC South.

The Panthers, Falcons and Saints each lost during the Bucs' bye week, leaving 1-5 Tampa Bay rejuventated and only two games behind division leading Carolina (3-3).

"I watched all the games this week,'' coach Lovie Smtih said, "I know what happened in our division. I realize how many games we're out of first place. We're in it as much as anyone with our record. That's what we're focused on. There's life when you take a little time off to not play a game and you end up in better position than when we started the Sunday...we're excited about that.''

Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said players still see an opportunity to turn their season around.

"How many games have we lost? Five? We've won one,'' McCoy said. "So if we win out, we'll be 11-5? Pretty good shot to go to the playoffs. So there is an opportunity. All of our division opponents lost...so yes, there is an oppportunity.''

Said receiver Louis Murphy, "I still feel we can be the NFC South champs. I believe in our team, I believe in our coaches, I believe in everything we've got going.'' …

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McCown returns to practice and comes out throwing

Josh McCown returned to practice Monday and had his first extensive throwing session since suffering a torn ligament in his right thumb in Week 3 at Atlanta.

JIM DAMASKE | Times

Josh McCown returned to practice Monday and had his first extensive throwing session since suffering a torn ligament in his right thumb in Week 3 at Atlanta.

The bye week was good for quarterback Josh McCown, who returned to practice Monday and had his first extensive throwing session since suffering a torn ligament in his right thumb in Week 3 at Atlanta.

McCown, 35, still had a wrap on his thumb but didn't appear to have any trouble making short and intermediate throws during individual drills during the portion of practice that was open to the media.

"He threw the ball fairly well today,'' coach Lovie Smith said. "And we're encouraged by his progress.''

McCown went 0-3 as a starter with two touchdowns and four interceptions before suffering a thumb injury in the first half of the Bucs' 56-14 loss to the Falcons Sept. 18.

Backup Mike Glennon has played better in his absence, going 1-2 and passing for 986 yards with seven touchdowns and three INTs. His 6.94 yards per attempt average is much higher than McCown's 6.18 average.

It would be hard to imagine the Bucs going back to McCown this week against Minnesota, especially if he still is not 100 percent healthy. In any case, the earliest Bucs coach Lovie Smith will even tip his hand would be Wednesday. …

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Bucs part ways with assistant after DUI arrest

Just hours after news of his arrest on a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence, the Bucs announced Thursday that they have parted ways with Isaiah Harris, the team's director of player development.

"Every member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is held to a high standard," Bucs general manager Jason Licht said in a statement. "This type of incident, particularly for someone whose primary responsibilities are to mentor and develop our players off the field, cannot be tolerated. Due to the nature of his position and the expectations placed on our staff, we made the organizational decision to part ways with Isaiah."

Harris, 35, was arrested at 2:06 a.m. in north Tampa, accused of rear-ending a woman's car in the drive-thru lane of a Taco Bell. He was booked at 4:35 a.m. and released at 11:06 a.m. on $500 bond. Driving under the influence is a second-degree misdemeanor. …

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Bucs assistant arrested on DUI charge

Isaiah Harris, who followed Lovie Smith from Chicago to Tampa this year as the Bucs' director of player development, was arrested early Thursday morning on a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence, accused of rear-ending a car in a Taco Bell drive-thru.

Harris, 35, refused to have his blood-alcohol content tested after being stopped by the Tampa Police Department at 2:06 a.m. Thursday in north Tampa. He was booked at 4:35 a.m. and released at 11:06 a.m. on a $500 bond.

Harris' job with the Bucs as director of player development "focuses on the personal and professional growth of football players through guidance and support," according to his page on the team's official site. He served in the same role with the Chicago Bears from 2008-13, spending the first five seasons under Smith, whose staff he joined with the Bucs this year.

According to the arrest report, Harris was "involved in a minor rear-end traffic crash while at the drive-thru" at the Taco Bell on Dona Michelle Drive, just east of Interstate 75. The woman whose car was allegedly hit identified as he parked his pickup truck at a nearby Steak n' Shake restaurant, according to the report. …

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Bucs on pace to allow most points in NFL history

TAMPA - The Bucs’ defensive woes – they’re last in the league in yards per game and scoring average – have been tough for linebackers coach Hardy Nickerson to watch.

The former Bucs Pro Bowler said the defense is continuing to adjust to Smith’s Tampa 2 defense, which can take time. Nickerson said the Bucs didn’t fully grasp it when he was a player until midway through its first season (1996).  

“Shoot, we certainly don’t want to be at the bottom of those categories,” Nickerson said. “We’d like to be at the top of the league, the top of the heap in terms of that. But we realize we’re working, and we’re getting better.”

The Bucs have given up an average of 34 points per game and are on pace to allow 544 this year – 11 more than the NFL record (1981 Baltimore).

The other worst scoring defense in NFL history: The 2008 Lions (517 points), the 1966 Giants (501).

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Bucs still confident in Johnson at nickel

For the first time this season, Bucs nickel defensive back Leonard Johnson went to the bench Sunday after the Ravens threw five touchdown passes in the first 17 minutes, but coaches said Wednesday they remain confident in him helping the defense bounce back.

"I'm pleased with how Leonard's done," assistant coach Larry Marmie said Wednesday. "He's growing in the position, which we knew. It's a new system for him, from what he had played in the past. Leonard's doing fine. He's a good effort guy. I think he's progressing well for us."

Johnson had played every snap all season when the Bucs were in their nickel (five defensive back) package, but Keith Tandy subbed in for him, leaving him with only four defensive snaps for the day against a Ravens team that ran the ball more after an early lead.

"We just felt like 'Give him a break,'" Marmie said. "Let him sit back. Leonard's a high-energy guy and plays like that upset him, personally. We just decided to (let him) sit back and look a little bit. (We can) see what (Tandy) could do." …

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Bucs fullback Jorvorskie Lane suspended for two games

Jorvorskie Lane carries the ball for a 54-yard run during the Sept. 7 Bucs game against the Carolina Panthers at Raymond James.

JIM DAMASKE | Times

Jorvorskie Lane carries the ball for a 54-yard run during the Sept. 7 Bucs game against the Carolina Panthers at Raymond James.

Bucs fullback Jorvorskie Lane has been suspended for two games without pay for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances, the team announced Wednesday.

Lane, the team's only fullback, had a 54-yard run in the season opener but has been used sparingly this season; in Sunday's lopsided loss to the Ravens, he played only five offensive snaps. The team this week signed former Florida State fullback/running back Lonnie Pryor to the practice squad, and he could be promoted to the 53-man roster next week if the team determines it should carry a fullback.

In a statement released through his agent, David Canter, Lane said his positive test was a result of an "over-the-counter medication to help my weight-loss efforts and, without my knowledge, it contained a banned substance."

"I appreciate the Tampa Bay Buccaneers organization, head coach Lovie Smith, the Glazer family and Bucs Nation for standing behind me while I serve this two-game suspension," the statement continues. "I look forward to being back and helping this team win football games." …

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Arroyo: Nobody has 'definitive answer' for offensive woes

After being outscored 38-0 at the start of Sunday's loss to the Ravens and outgained 283-20 early on, Bucs quarterbacks coach Marcus Arroyo said he's still looking for answers for why the offense has struggled so much in the first half of games this season.

"I don't think anyone has a real definitive answer," Arroyo said Tuesday, asked about an offense that's scoring an NFL-low 4.5 points in the first half of games in the Bucs' 1-5 start. "I think in the beginning we just had some dropped balls and missed execution. We've got to figure out what it is ... I don't know if there's any real true exact science to that yet. I don't know the exact answer yet, and we need to find a way to do better."

The Bucs have averaged just 91 yards in the first half of the last four games, including lopsided losses to the Falcons and Ravens, but Arroyo hasn't figured out why the offense struggles to get into rhythm until much later in the game. …

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Bucs sign former Bears corner Isaiah Frey

Looking for help in the secondary, the Bucs on Tuesday signed former Bears cornerback Isaiah Frey, who spent a year with Lovie Smith in Chicago and had 47 tackles with six starts for the Bears last season.

Frey, 24, was a sixth-round draft pick out of Nevada in 2012 but was among the Bears' final cuts, spending the entire 2012 season on the practice squad. He played extensively last season, and had 12 tackles in three games this year before he was waived last week. Frey had worked as a nickel defensive back with the Bears, so he could potentially compete for playing time there as well as at corner.

The 6-foot, 190-pounder from Roseville, Calif., worked out with the Bucs this week and signed Tuesday. No corresponding move on the 53-man roster has been announced.

The Bucs' cornerback depth was tested and exposed in Sunday's loss to the Ravens, with backup Crezdon Butler pressed into a starting role due to a neck injury to starter Johnthan Banks. The only other backup corner on roster, rookie Brandon Dixon, was beaten on two early touchdowns as the Ravens built a 38-0 lead in the first half.

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McCown: Still no football activities with injured hand

Mike Glennon's six touchdowns in the last three games have lessened some of the urgency for Josh McCown to make a healthy return, but the veteran quarterback said Tuesday that he has yet to be able to do any football activities with the injured thumb on his throwing hand.

"It's getting there. We'll see. As we've said all along, we're taking it day by day, week by week," McCown said, nearly four weeks after he tore a ligament in his thumb in the Bucs' loss at Atlanta. "It feels like we're making progress. (Football activities?) Not quite yet. We're hoping that's coming soon. We'll see."

The Bucs have this week off and return with a home game next week against Minnesota. McCown's injury was determined to not need surgery, but he's been limited to helping other quarterbacks at practice since the Falcons game. The team promoted Mike Kafka from the practice squad to serve as Glennon's backup, but when asked if he could be available to play in the Vikings game, McCown said that's not for him to answer.

"For me to talk about that right now, I can't. It's not for me to say," he said. "We'll let Coach (Lovie Smith) talk about those injuries and things like that." …

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'Unacceptable:' McCoy says criticism starts with himself

Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said Tuesday that he hasn't played up to the level he needs to, so criticism of the team should start with him.

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Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said Tuesday that he hasn't played up to the level he needs to, so criticism of the team should start with him.

Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, reflecting on his team's 1-5 start and his defense giving up a league-high 34 points per game, said Tuesday that he hasn't played up to the level he needs to, so criticism of the team should start with him.

"Everybody has to self-evaluate, starting with myself. 2013 is over. Gerald McCoy is not an All-Pro," he said. "That was in 2013. Sunday, he didn't play like an All-Pro. ... Sunday, I was kind of disappointed in myself. It's unacceptable. The way we lost, I put it all on me, because my performance was not up to par. Right now, you're only as good as your last performance. Right now, Gerald McCoy is very average." 

McCoy had three tackles Sunday, one for a loss, but the Bucs as a defense had zero sacks and zero hits on Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, who threw five touchdowns in the first 17 minutes, handing the Bucs a 38-0 halftime deficit that is the most lopsided in NFL history for a home team.

McCoy has played the last three games recovering from a broken hand suffered in a Week 2 loss to the Rams, but he said he shouldn't let any excuses limit his play or his accountability. …

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With bye week, several Bucs players held out of practice

With no game this weekend on the Bucs' bye week, the priority Tuesday was resting any lingering injuries, with eight players held out of the team's first practice since Sunday's 48-17 loss to the Ravens.

Eight players attended but weren't in helmets and watched: DT Gerald McCoy, S Dashon Goldson, DB Keith Tandy, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, WR Vincent Jackson, QB Josh McCown, G Logan Mankins and T Anthony Collins. LB Danny Lansanah wasn't at practice, but was away from the team due to the birth of his first child on Monday.

For all the players resting injuries, CB Johnthan Banks, who was sidelined last week by a neck injury and didn't play Sunday, was back at practice, wearing a helmet and going through drills with the rest of the cornerbacks.

The Bucs are scheduled to practice again Wednesday, then players have four days off this weekend before resuming regular game-week preparation Monday for a home game against the Vikings next weekend.

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Bucs coach Smith to disappointed fans: 'Give us time.'

Six games and two blowout losses into his first season as the Bucs coach, Lovie Smith is pleading patience while recognizing it is in short supply with Tampa Bay fans.

Smith said it was 'disheartening,' to watch the Bucs trail the Atlanta Falcons 56-0 and the Baltimore Ravens 38-0 in a span of three weeks. But he insists while those performances didn't show it, the Bucs are getting better and asked for more time to get it right.

“I would say first off, I’m disappointed, too,'' Smith said when asked to address the fans. "I agree with the numbers you threw out. That is disheartening. It’s like I would say also, it’s like when you’re in a game, you don’t crown anyone the winner of that game during the game. We’re disappointed right now, is what I would say. We’re disappointed right now. But let’s let it all play out. And yeah, I’ve said that before but the game isn’t over yet. That would be my statement. Give us time. We’ll continue to get guys back. There’s a lot of football left to go. If we were 6-0 right now, would you start buying your Super Bowl ticket? You have to just hold on
a little bit is what I would say. …

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"We're not a good football team,' after 48-17 blowout to Ravens

t was an ugly day, coming just three weeks after a stunningly similar ugly loss.

So following the Bucs 48-17 defeat to the Baltimore in which Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco fired five touchdown passes in the first 16 minutes Sunday, players and coaches were left only to compare massacres.

Was trailing the Atlanta Falcons 56-0 on Thursday night football Sept. 18 at the Georgia Dome worse than trailing the Ravens 35-0 just 51 seconds into the second quarter at Raymond James Stadium Sunday? How do you compare your worst flu virus? Or flat tires?

Heading into the bye week 1-5, coach Lovie Smith sounded shocked by the completeness of another defeat.   

“One and five says we’re not a good football team,’’ Smith said. “And we’re not a good football team, it’s kind as simple as that. Started the game off and they controlled the action of course in the first half whether they were running the football, passing the ball, defensively we didn’t get anything done. …

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