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Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs unveil Week 1 depth chart: Patrick Omameh listed as starter at RG

Patrick Omameh is listed on the Bucs' depth chart as the starting right guard. [DANIEL WALLACE | Times]

Patrick Omameh is listed on the Bucs' depth chart as the starting right guard. [DANIEL WALLACE | Times]

After saying little Monday about their lineups, the Bucs gave a glimpse into key position battles by releasing an updated depth chart Tuesday.

WR Chris Owusu is the starter on kickoff returns, and RB Bobby Rainey is the starter on punt returns. Mike James and Rainey are listed as the next two returners for kickoffs, but the team didn’t list a backup punt returner.

Newcomer Logan Mankins is listed as the starting left guard (to no surprise), with Patrick Omameh as the starting right guard. Rishaw Johnson is Omameh’s backup, and rookie Kadeem Edwards is the No. 2 left guard. Garrett Gilkey – who had been considered a guard – is the backup center, behind Evan Dietrich-Smith.

Mike Jenkins – who missed all of August with a leg injury – joins Alterraun Verner as the starting cornerbacks, ahead of Johnthan Banks, who started every game as a rookie last season. Brandon Myers is listed as the top tight end, ahead of highly touted rookie Austin Seferian-Jenkins.

WR Mike Evans is the only rookie listed as a starter. …

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Third time the charm for Bucs long-snapper DePaola

This was the third straight preseason that long-snapper Andrew DePaola was in camp with the Bucs, but he emerged with a job this time, beating out veteran Jeremy Cain to take over snapping duties for the Bucs.

"I'm extremely excited -- I can't tell you how I feel," he said last week. "I love this place. I love this team, the guy, the coaching staff. It's great to finally be here."

The team knew it would have a new long-snapper when Andrew Economos wasn't re-signed, and DePaola made the most of the key special-teams competition.

"My first camp coming in, they told me I was just a camp guy, take reps from Eco. Next camp coming in was a battle and Eco won that one," the Rutgers graduate said. "This time, same thing around, they told me it was a battle and I'm just thankful I'm on the receiving end this time."

DePaola, 27, won the job despite never snapping in a regular-season NFL game -- Cain, after being cut by the Bucs, has been signed by the Bears and will open the season as their long-snapper.

"Jeremy's a great guy and a great long-snapper -- I wish him nothing but the best," he said. …

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McCoy welcomes 'triple' attention vs. Panthers

Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy fully expects to draw extra blockers from Carolina in Sunday's season opener, but said Monday he's glad to open up opportunities for the rest of the defensive line.

"I don't care," McCoy said Monday afternoon in the locker room. "Buffalo tried the same thing (two weeks ago in preseason game). You saw what happened. If they want to try it, they can go ahead. It is what it is. I'm not trying to play for myself. I play to get triple-teamed. I play so I make my teammates better."

McCoy said Hall of Famer Warren Sapp often talks about making the rest of the defensive line better, and the Bucs added two starters in free agency with end Michael Johnson and tackle Clinton McDonald.

"One thing 99 always talks about: 'Are you making the people around you better?" McCoy said. "That's one thing I did, and it's one thing I'm working for. I want everybody around me to be great. It's not about me, it's about everybody around me."

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Bucs announce five team captains, and Lovie Smith assures no contest rigging

With their season six days away, the Bucs named their five team captains Monday.

On offense, the team voted for QB Josh McCown and WR Vincent Jackson. P Michael Koenen will captain special teams, and DT Gerald McCoy and LB Lavonte David will lead the defense.

“Two easy choices,” head coach Lovie Smith said of David and McCoy.

Smith also made a subtle joke at the expense of ex-coach Greg Schiano, who was accused of rigging the captain vote last year to keep then-QB Josh Freeman from earning the spot.

This year, Smith said every member of the team, including him, got only one vote.

“We added it up,” Smith said. “I kept track of it, too, in case someone wants to check it.”

Schiano, for what it’s worth, denied the rigging rumors last year.

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Guard Gilkey eager for second chance with Bucs

TAMPA -- Having been cut by the Browns the day before, offensive lineman Garrett Gilkey woke up Sunday morning preparing to register for full-time classes toward a Master's degree in counseling psychology.

Then the Bucs called, claiming him off waivers and adding him to their 53-man roster, with his first game now six days away.

"You never know in the NFL," said Gilkey, a seventh-round pick by Cleveland last year, playing in six games and starting the final game of the year at guard. "I found a lot of success with the Browns throughout OTAs and the beginning of fall camp, so I thought it was going to be an extended career there. Obviously, they had different desires, but I have the opportunity here and I'm super excited."

Gilkey's offensive line coach in Cleveland was George Warhop, who is now the Bucs' line coach, and he said the terminology in run blocking is much the same of what he learned last year with the Browns. There are other adjustments to make, but he'll work hard to prepare himself for Sunday's opener -- he played left tackle in college but has worked at guard in the NFL. He has cross-trained at center for some versatility, though he's never snapped in a game. …

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Bucs prepare for Panthers as if O.C. Tedford won't be available

Bucs coach Lovie Smith is fond of saying he spent a lot of time in his basement near Chicago last season watching games, reviewing tape and talking football with former California coach Jeff Tedford, whom he hired as offensive coordinator.

But Tedford was hospitalized after a  'surgical procedure,' last week and the Bucs are preparing as if he won't be calling plays Sunday against the Carolina Panthers.

“Obviously, Jeff’s been leading our offense through the whole off-season so any time you take a piece away, there can be some disruptiveness,'' quarterback Josh McCown said. "But the coaches seem like they are, so far, doing a great job picking up the slack and doing what we need to do.''

Bucs coach Lovie Smith said Tedford stopped by One Buc Place over the weekend and indicated he is involved in the Bucs' offensive game plan against Carolina. …

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Jenkins back practicing, 7 Bucs held out

Bucs cornerback Mike Jenkins, out the entire month of August with a hamstring injury, returned to practice Monday, an encouraging step toward his playing in Sunday's season opener against Carolina.

While Jenkins returned, receivers Vincent Jackson and Louis Murphy were held out of practice -- Murphy bruised his lower back in Thursday's preseason finale, while Jackson's injury is unknown. Also sidelined: DEs Will Gholston and Da'Quan Bowers, corner Rashaan Melvin, safety Bradley McDougald and fullback Jorvorskie Lane.

Also still not seen at practice was offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford, who has been away from the team since a week ago, when Lovie Smith announced he had undergone an unspecified medical procedure. He's said to be recovering, but there's no word as to whether the Bucs will have him for Sunday's game.

KICKOFFS: With rookie Solomon Patton now on the practice squad, the team's kickoff return duties are up for grabs -- receiver Chris Owusu and running back Mike James took reps there during Monday's practice. RB Bobby Rainey and rookie WR Robert Herron worked as the "off return" player, who serves as the closest blocker on the kickoff return. …

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Bucs add Jets rookie CB Dixon to the practice squad

Cornerback Brandon Dixon, Jets' sixth-round pick this year out of NW Missouri State, has joined the Bucs practice squad.

Dixon tweeted Sunday 'Tampa Bay Bucs, here I come.' Three more spots are available on the 10-man practice squad. The Bucs announced they had signed quarterback Mike Kafka, running back Jeff Demps, receiver/returner Solomon Patton, linebacker Brandon Magee, defensive tackle Matt Masifilo and tight end Cameron Brate to the practice squad Sunday.

Dixon's twin brother Brian, who was an undrafted free agent who signed with New Orleans, made the Saints' 53-man roster. It's just a coincidence Brandon and Brian went to play for twin brothers -- Jets coach Rex Ryan and Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.

Both ran 4.41 in the 40-yard dash. Brandon was invited to the NFL scouting combine, Brian did it at at NW Missouri State.


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Bucs claim Browns guard Gilkey, add 6 to practice squad

The Bucs have tweaked their initial 53-man roster, claiming second-year guard Garrett Gilkey from the Cleveland Browns, while adding six players they had cut on Saturday to their practice squad.

Those six players are quarterback Mike Kafka, running back Jeff Demps, receiver/returner Solomon Patton, linebacker Brandon Magee, defensive tackle Matt Masifilo and tight end Cameron Brate. Four more spots are available on the 10-man practice squad.

Gilkey, 24, was seventh-round draft pick with Cleveland in 2013 out of Division II Chadron State. He played in six games as a rookie, with a start at left guard and all 66 snaps in the season finale against Pittsburgh. He played left tackle in college, but worked at guard with the Browns, where his offensive line coach last year was George Warhop, now the Bucs' line coach.

To make room for Gilkey, the Bucs waived undrafted rookie center Josh Allen, who had made the initial 53-man roster.

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Surprises: Bucs cut safety Wright, rookie Patton

The Bucs are finishing their cut to get to the 53-man NFL limit, and they're doing it with two surprising move: releasing safety Major Wright and rookie return specialist Solomon Patton.

The two former Gators had both been seen as safe bets to make the final roster -- Patton had been handling both punt and kickoff returns the past two weeks, and Wright was the team's No. 3 safety behind starters Mark Barron and Dashon Goldson. Wright suffered a back injury in last week's game at Buffalo and didn't play in Thursday's preseason finale, but the injury wasn't believed to be anything longterm.

With Wright's release, the Bucs have only four safeties on roster -- Barron, Goldson, top backup Keith Tandy and Bradley McDougald, who is likely to still miss a few weeks as he recovers from a knee injury suffered last week. It's possible the Wright cut was made in anticipation of a corresponding signing of a player available from another team. …

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Ex-Gators RB Demps among Bucs' final cuts

The Bucs went into Saturday needing to cut eight players to reach the NFL limit of 53 players, and the first player out in that final wave of cuts is former Florida running back Jeff Demps.

Demps, a world-class sprinter who was part of the U.S. silver medal 4-by-100 relay in 2012, had limited success in the preseason, totaling 59 yards on 20 carries in Thursday's finale. He was waived Saturday despite injuries to the position, with rookie Charles Sims out three months with an ankle injury and second-year pro Mike James sidelined the last two weeks with a shoulder injury.

Demps' release bodes well for fullback Jorvorskie Lane, who should be able to play in the opener despite an injury to his left hand that kept him out of Thursday's game. The Bucs have two healthy tailbacks for sure in starter Doug Martin and top backup Bobby Rainey.

2 p.m. update: Undrafted rookie tight end Cameron Brate has been waived. Another practice-squad candidate, and he's got a Harvard degree to fall back on. Three cuts left to get to 53, and Bucs still have 11 defensive backs on roster -- injuries may play a role in what happens there ... …

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Bucs cut PK Connor Barth, go with rookie Murray

The Bucs made a bold move Friday, electing to go with rookie place-kicker Patrick Murray over reliable veteran Connor Barth, who was released.

Murray, the undrafted free agent from Fordham, won the job based on his toughness and versality. He was an All-America punter and place-kicker at Fordham two years ago.

The release of Barth ends his remarkable run of consistency with the Bucs after six seasons. He's a career 84 percent career field goal kicker and perfect on all 134 point after attempts.

Barth was scheduled to make  $2-million in base salary and $1.15-million in roster bonses this year. He was attempting to make a comeback with the Bucs after missing 2013 when he tore the Achilles on his right kicking leg in a charity basketball game just a week before  camp. Both kickers were 2-for-2 in field goal atttempts in the preseason. …

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Bucs teammates elated to land Pro Bowl guard Mankins

TAMPA -- Whatever disappointment there was in the Bucs' locker room after a largely irrelevant 24-10 loss to the Redskins in Thursday's preseason finale, it disappeared at the mere mention of new Bucs guard Logan Mankins, the six-time Pro Bowler acquired Tuesday from the Patriots.

"A Logan Mankins, you can't even expect to get a guy like that," defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. "When you get a guy like that, it's like a dream come true. An All-Pro who can help you get better in practice, and your overall team gets better, on and off the field."

Mankins, 32, met teammates for the first time Thursday and watched the final preseason game, and he'll be quickly inserted in at left guard as the Bucs prepare for next weekend's season opener at home against Carolina. Another former Patriot, Bucs linebacker Dane Fletcher, was thrilled to be reunited with a leader from his New England teams. …

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Bucs make first 13 cuts, including DE English, Meredith

Defensive end Larry English, the former first-round pick who was challenging Da'Quan Bowers for a roster spot, is among 13 players who have been cut by the Bucs as the team trims its roster from 75 players to the final 53. Gone, too, is veteran offensive lineman Jamon Meredith, who started 20 games in the past two seasons but had fallen out of the starting lineup in preseason.

English, who had two sacks last weekend against Buffalo, had a quiet game in Thursday's preseason finale against the Redskins, with one assisted tackle and an offsides penalty (which was declined) in 39 snaps. The Bucs still have Scott Solomon on roster as another challenger to Bowers, who has been sidelined the last three games of preseason.

Meredith, who was due to make just over $1 million in base salary, is yet another change on the offenseive line, which will have four new starters this season. His release likely means the Bucs have confidence in rookie Kevin Pamphile as the top backup at tackle. …

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Askew, Lewis among 7 confirmed Bucs cuts

Undrafted rookies Nate Askew and Keith Lewis, who came up with end-zone interceptions in Thursday's preseason finale, were still among seven players confirmed as cuts as the Bucs trim their roster from 75 to 53 players by Saturday afternoon.

Also confirmed Friday morning: cornerbacks Marc Anthony and Kip Edwards, fullback Lonnie Pryor, defensive end T.J. Fatinikun and linebacker Ka'Lial Glaud. We're working to confirm additional cuts this morning, and Lovie Smith will address the media at 2 p.m. today and may be in position to confirm the initial wave of cuts. The Bucs and all NFL teams have until 4 p.m. Saturday to cut their roster to 53 players.

Askew and Lewis are both prime candidates to rejoin the Bucs as members of the 10-team practice squad, which teams can start signing players to at noon on Sunday. 

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