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Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Lovie Smith on NFL problems: 'I believe in the shield'

TAMPA - The off-the-field problems continue to swirl in the NFL, with high-profile stars like Adrian Peterson and Greg Hardy drawing scorn from fans and some sponsors for legal trouble.

The rush of domestic abuse-related headlines and ill will toward the league is troubling, Bucs coach Lovie Smith said Tuesday.

"Very much so," Smith said. "I believe in the shield, too, what it represents and what our players represent, who’s looking at them. There’s a lot being said right now. I was asked earlier, have I gone over with my players not to hit a woman? No, I haven’t. Don’t have to. We all know right from wrong. It’s pretty simple. There are some things you just don’t do. For us to continually talk about it – have to talk about it – it’s terrible. For me, I have a wife, I have a mother, sister, on down the line. There’s no place for it. …

"It’s just not an NFL problem. It’s a societal problem. Yes, just like everybody else, moving away from my role, I’m disturbed by some of the things we’re having to deal with right now."

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Gerald McCoy gets cast, Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Michael Johnson improving

TAMPA – DT Gerald McCoy (hand), TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (ankle) and LB Mason Foster (shoulder) didn’t participate in the Bucs’ practice Tuesday during the portion open to reporters.

Coach Lovie Smith said McCoy had a cast – not a club – put on his broken hand today but seemed doubtful that the All-Pro would be ready to play Thursday.

“Gerald is a heck of a player, but I might have a chance against him if I made him put his hand behind his back and made him play with one hand,” Smith said after practice. “That’s pretty hard to do.”

Smith said Foster couldn’t do much in practice today, but Seferian-Jenkins’ swelling has subsided.

“His recovery is speeding up a little bit quicker than we thought,” Smith said.

RB Doug Martin (knee) and DE Michael Johnson (ankle) were both limited after missing Sunday’s game. Smith said Johnson needed to practice to get a feel for what he might be able to do Thursday.

“Hopefully he can go,” Smith said. “When we’re playing  against an offense like that, we’ll need all of our pass rushers.”

G Logan Mankins (knee), DE William Gholston (shoudler) and C Evan Dietrich-Smith (back) were also limited. …

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McCoy, Bucs weigh risk-reward of playing with broken hand

Gerald McCoy was injured on the Bucs' eighth defensive play against the Rams Sunday trying to beat a double-team.

JIM DAMASKE | Times

Gerald McCoy was injured on the Bucs' eighth defensive play against the Rams Sunday trying to beat a double-team.

Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy had no wrap or cast on his broken left hand, but he and the Bucs still are weighing whether he should play Thursday at Atlanta and risk further injury.

Working against McCoy and the Bucs is the short turnaround before their game against the Falcons and the belief that a cast would limit the use of his hand and productivity.

"We're trying to figure out the best way to keep it protected,'' McCoy said Tuesday. "Obviously, it's better if I'm out there but still a long season.

"It can always get worse. That's the risk of going out there Thursday...time is very short this week, so not having a full week to recover is definitely working against me but I'm a fighter...Most of it is pain tolerance, but as much as you want to be out there, you also want to be smart.''

McCoy was injured on the Bucs' eighth defensive play against the Rams Sunday trying to beat a double-team. He returned briefly in the second quarter but said "I couldn't feel my hand.''

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Matt Ryan: Lovie Smith defenses are always disciplined

TAMPA – Falcons QB Matt Ryan seems to have plenty of respect for the Bucs’ defense heading into Thursday’s primetime matchup against the Bucs in Atlanta.

“I think the one thing you find when you go against a Lovie Smith-coached team is they’re very disciplined and very sound in what they do,” Ryan said Tuesday in a conference call with Tampa Bay reporters. “That’s one of those things that I think jumps off the screen when you watch the film. They play their scheme, and they play it well, and they know where they’re supposed to be, and they get to those spots.”

Ryan also called DT Gerald McCoy one of the league’s top players because of his size and speed and said DE Michael Johnson adds a “dynamic pass rusher” to the Bucs’ defense. Johnson (ankle) didn’t play in Sunday’s loss to St. Louis, and McCoy left with a hand injury.

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Urlacher to Bucs? Not this week, but not off the radar

Will Brian Urlacher be reunited with Lovie Smith in Tampa Bay?

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Will Brian Urlacher be reunited with Lovie Smith in Tampa Bay?

Former Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher resigned his job as a broadcaster job at Fox Sports 1 Tuesday and the Bucs have an injury to starting middle linebacker Mason Foster.

Will Urlacher be reunited with Lovie Smith in Tampa Bay?

Not this week, at least.

The Bucs plan to go with backup middle linebacker Dane Fletcher in Thursday night's game at Atlanta. Fletcher had two tackles and a forced fumble in Sunday's 19-17 loss to the St. Louis Rams.

There's no word on how long Foster will need to recover from a separated shoulder. But if the injury keeps him out long-term, or if Fletcher doesn't play well or becomes injured, it's possible the Bucs could reach out to Urlacher to gauge his interest in resuming his playing career. There has been no contact at this time.

Urlacher said he resigned his job at Fox Sports 1 to spend more time with his family.

But Urlacher's history with Smith is well-documented. And if he wants to reaume his career, it's not farfetched Tampa Bay could be an eventual landing spot.

 

 

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LB Foster out for Thursday with shoulder injury

TAMPA -- The Bucs defense will play Thursday in Atlanta without starting middle linebacker Mason Foster, who dislocated his shoulder in Sunday's loss to the Rams. Will defensive tackle Gerald McCoy be joining him on the sidelines?

The Bucs have a short week to prepare for the Falcons, with little time to mend a long list of injuries. Coach Lovie Smith said Monday that McCoy, Foster and TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins would not have practiced if the team had done so Monday.

The Bucs' official injury list for Monday had four players listed as limited -- DEs Michael Johnson (who missed Sunday's game with an ankle injury) and Will Gholston, RB Doug Martin (who also missed Sunday with a knee injury) and LG Logan Mankins. Gholston (shoulder) and Mankins (knee) started and played Sunday despite their injuries.

The biggest question mark is McCoy -- Smith said he could in theory play with a cast on his broken left hand, though he said it's difficult to play his position with a "club" rendering a person one-handed. …

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Bucs wait on updates for injured McCoy, Foster

With a short week to prepare for Thursday night's game at Atlanta, Bucs coach Lovie Smith said Monday that defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, linebacker Mason Foster and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins would not have practiced if the team had done so Monday.

Even without a practice, the Bucs and Falcons must submit estimations of practice status -- while those three key players would not have, it's encouraging that defensive end Michael Johnson and running back Doug Martin, held out of Sunday's loss to the Rams with injuries, would have. McCoy was in for only eight plays before he broke his left hand, and Foster didn't finish the game after suffering a shoulder injury. Seferian-Jenkins missed Sunday's game after suffering an ankle injury in the season opener.

With no news on the severity of Sunday's injuries, Smith said McCoy could in theory play with a cast on his hand, though he said it's difficult to play his position with a "club" rendering a person one-handed. …

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Run RB on 3rd and 7? Bucs' call a rare one

Perhaps the single Bucs play call questioned most by fans in Sunday's 19-17 loss to the Rams came in on the final play of the third quarter, when Tampa Bay faced a third-and-7 play at the Rams' 9-yard line and opted to hand off to Bobby Rainey, who gained just 3 yards.

The next play saw Patrick Murray's short field goal blocked by the Rams, but frustrated fans saw the decision to run Rainey as a sign of coaches lacking confidence in QB Josh McCown, who had a costly interception from the 9-yard line to end an earlier drive. On the eight red-zone plays the Bucs had after McCown's interception, they did not attempt one pass, including two in the fourth quarter to set up another field goal.

So how rare is it to hand off to a running back on third and 7? The Bucs had 21 third-and-7 plays last season, and they didn't hand off to a running back once -- 17 passes, 3 sacks and one Mike Glennon scramble. They completed 10 of those 17 passes and converted on five of those 21 opportunities. …

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Rainey rushes for 144, but joy lost in loss

TAMPA -- Bobby Rainey came up huge stepping in for an injured Doug Martin on Sunday, rushing for 144 yards and adding another 30 on passes, but that was all lost in the final score of a 19-17 loss to the Rams.

"That doesn't matter when we lose," Rainey said. "You can have all the yards that you want, and if your team comes out with a loss, it means nothing. At the end of the day, it's about the team."

Rainey, who rushed for 163 and 127 in games filling in for Martin last season, had a 32-yard run to set up the Bucs' go-ahead field goal with 5:15 to play. He caught a pass on the final drive, which ended with a 10-second runoff as the Bucs had gotten in field-goal range.

Rainey had praise for his offensive line -- "however many yards I had, it's because of those guys," he said -- and said he was motivated to redeem himself after a late fumble in a close loss to Carolina last week.

"That was my goal, to get better in each game and make up for that mistake I had last game," Rainey said. "Apparently it wasn't enough. We still had a loss."

Rainey is averaging 6.0 yards per carry, which ties for the third-best average among the NFL's top 25 rushers entering Sunday night's game.

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Josh McCown on interception: 'Bad decision'

TAMPA - QB Josh McCown’s strong start ended with a costly turnover in Sunday's 19-17 home loss to St. Louis.

McCown completed his first eight passes for 78 yards and scored the game’s first touchdown on a 5-yard rush. Then on first and goal from the 9, McCown ran into trouble. He rolled right and forced a pass toward the middle of the field for Vincent Jackson. St. Louis S Rodney McLeod intercepted it for McCown’s third interception in his first six quarters as a Buc.

"It was a bad decision again,” McCown said. “I just got outside and saw Vincent. I thought he was coming underneath the guy and I tried to get him the ball coming across. Vincent said he collided with the guy and didn't get there. I've just got to throw that one away and live to play another day.”

The turnover ended a potential scoring drive and appeared to change the Bucs’ tone in scoring position. They didn’t throw the ball in their final eight plays inside the red zone after that turnover and got only three points out of their final two trips inside the Rams’ 20.

"This one was a big one to hurt us early," coach Lovie Smith said. "That's in the first half - we had a lot more football left to go."

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Blocked kicks doom Bucs

TAMPA - The Bucs hurt themselves with two costly mistakes on special teams in the Rams' 19-17 win.

After the second-quarter rain delay, St. Louis S T.J. McDonald ran practically untouched through the Bucs’ line to block Michael Koenen’s punt, giving the Rams the ball at the Bucs’ 28. Six plays later, St. Louis’ Greg Zuerlein booted a 36-yard field goal to give St. Louis a 10-7 lead.

Koenen hadn’t had a punt blocked since Oct. 14, 2012 against the Chiefs – a span of 151 consecutive punts.

McDonald wasn’t done yet.  He shot through the gap to block a 24-yard field goal attempt by Patrick Murray. It was the first field goal attempt in Murray’s career after he beat out veteran Connor Barth for the starting job in the preseason.

Murray said the kick wasn’t low, but he couldn’t tell what happened.

“To be honest, I didn’t see anything,” said Murray, who later made a 36-yarder. “My job’s to keep my head down and get the ball through the post. I didn’t look at the line.”

The Rams capitalized, ending the ensuing drive with Zuerlein’s 46-yard field goal to put St. Louis ahead 16-14. …

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Mike Evans on Bucs' loss: 'I'm the guy that could have changed that'

TAMPA - WR Mike Evans quickly turned from a potential hero to the final part of the losing effort.

The rookie first-rounder soared for a 32-yard pass from QB Josh McCown on the Bucs’ final drive and took a hard hit from St. Louis S T.J. McDonald at the Rams’ 32. Evans said the hit was clean, but the blow hurt his back, and he struggled to get up as the final seconds ticked down.

Evans said TE Brandon Myers pulled him up, but officials blew the whistle before he could get up or get off the field. Because the Bucs had no timeouts left, referees applied the mandatory 10-second runoff – a rule designed to keep players from faking injuries to stop the clock.

“I knew the rule,” said Evans, who had four catches for 49 yards and red marks on his back after the game. “It was a big hit. It kind of boggled me a little bit. I was trying to get up and get on the ball.”

Standing in front of his locker, Evans took the outcome hard after the game.

“I know all the guys are going to say the game wasn’t lost on one play, but to me, I’m the guy that could have changed that,” Evans said. “We could have put ourselves in position to win.”

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McCoy frustrated by injuries, won't 'cry about it'

TAMPA -- Gerald McCoy's injured left hand was heavily wrapped, from his thumb to his forearm, and while he didn't share any details about the injury or how long it would sideline him, he reiterated the team's mantra for surviving shorthanded.

"I'm not going to cry about it. It's a next-man-up mentality," the defensive tackle and team captain said after Sunday's 19-17 loss to the Rams. "If you're injured, you work to get back."

McCoy is one of five defensive starters out with injury -- defensive end Adrian Clayborn and cornerback Mike Jenkins were placed on injured reserve this week, ending their seasons, and defensive end Michael Johnson missed Sunday's game with an ankle injury. McCoy was injured on the opening drive, and middle linebacker Mason Foster was lost in the second quarter to a shoulder injury.

"It's real frustrating. You always want to go into it with a full team, but it's not what's happening," said McCoy, who said he heard a pop in his hand as he worked his way through a double team. "We can't really think about it too long. We have a game on Thursday." …

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Bucs come up short on final rally, lose 19-17 to Rams

TAMPA, Fla. -- With injuries continuing to decimate their defense, the Bucs couldn't stop the Rams from one last drive and a 38-yard field goal in the final minute as St. Louis pulled out a 19-17 win at Raymond James Stadium.

The Bucs (0-2) had taken the lead on a field goal by Patrick Murray with 5:15 left, but fill-in quarterback Austin Davis came through with a 27-yard pass to Austin Pettis on third down to set up the winning kick by Greg Zuerlein for the Rams (1-1).

Josh McCown completed two quick passes to set the team up at the Rams' 32, but rookie Mike Evans was injured on the second catch. By league rule, an injured player on a team with no time outs requires a 10-second runoff, and with 0:08 on the clock, the game ended before the winning kick could be attempted.

Tampa Bay's defense couldn't stop the Rams after losing two key leaders on defense -- defensive tackle Gerald McCoy to a hand injury and linebacker Mason Foster to a shoulder injury.

Murray's kick with 5:15 remaining was set up by a 32-yard run from Bobby Rainey, who stepped up in a big way replacing the injured Doug Martin, rushing for 144 yards. …

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Live updates: Bucs lead Rams, 17-16, on late field goal

The Bucs get a second shot at their first win of 2014, playing host to the Rams today as Derrick Brooks is inducted into the team's Ring of Honor and has his No. 55 retired.

We'll have updates here — and more frequently, on Twitter at @gregauman, @NFLstroud and @MBakerTBTimes — but check back for scoring updates on this blog. Tampa Bay goes without running back Doug Martin, tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins and defensive end Michael Johnson, all inactive with injuries, as well as cornerback Mike Jenkins and defensive end Adrian Clayborn, who went on injured reserve this week.

7:20 p.m.: Patrick Murray has his first NFL field goal — good from 36 yards for a 17-16 lead on the Rams iwth 5:15 to play. Bobby Rainey's 32-yard run — putting him at close to 150 yards for the game — set up the go-ahead kick. Now the Bucs defense needs a stop …

7:10 p.m.: The Bucs had a short field goal by Patrick Murray blocked, and then the Rams answered with a drive to set up Greg Zuerlein's 46-yard field goal for a 16-14 Rams lead with 9:10 remaining in the game. …

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