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Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

WR Murphy, DT Spence open camp with injuries

The Bucs placed wide receiver Louis Murphy on the non-football injury list with an ankle injury.

BRENDAN FITTERER | Times

The Bucs placed wide receiver Louis Murphy on the non-football injury list with an ankle injury.

The Bucs will open training camp with two top reserves sidelined by injuries, with defensive tackle Akeem Spence out with a back injury and receiver Louis Murphy out with an ankle injury.

Officially, the Bucs placed Spence on the physically unable to perform list, while Murphy is on the non-football injury list. Both still count toward the team's 90-player roster limit and can be moved to the active roster whenever they're deemed healthy.

Bucs coach Lovie Smith called the injury to Murphy -- the former Lakewood and Gators star who is battling to be the Bucs' No. 3 receiver -- a "freak accident," and did not elaborate on a timetable for either players' healthy return to practice. Spence's injury helps explain why the Bucs opted to re-sign defensive lineman Da'Quan Bowers this week after he had gone unsigned as a free agent for four months. …

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Bucs defense eager to prepare Winston for NFL

Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy arrives for training camp.

GREG AUMAN | Times

Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy arrives for training camp.

On both sides of the ball, there's already a healthy respect for Bucs rookie Jameis Winston and the work ethic he's shown in a first impression to teammates during OTAs and mandatory minicamp. Just the same, the Bucs defense is eager to test Winston in training camp, knowing it will better prepare him for the physical challenges he'll face during the regular season.

"He's going to be tested during this camp," said defensive end George Johnson, acquired from the Lions this spring and likely a first-year starter. "We feel like we're going to be the best team to give him the test. When we actually give him our all, he's going to get better, and then when he gets into games, he'll be like 'I've seen this before. Our guys play a lot tougher than this,' and he's going to play good."

General manager Jason Licht said this week that Winston has done a good job of working to earn respect from his teammates, establishing himself in practice and meetings by conducting himself like a regular player. Veteran teammates have seen this and noticed, though their goal in camp will be to challenge him as much as possible to help his transition from college to being an NFL starter. …

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Bucs players arrive for start of training camp

Tampa Bay Buccaneer wide receiver Mike Evans talks to reporters at One Buc Place as he reported to training camp

[SCOTT KEELER | Times]

Tampa Bay Buccaneer wide receiver Mike Evans talks to reporters at One Buc Place as he reported to training camp

Without much fanfare, some arriving as the sun was rising, Bucs players reported for the start of training camp at One Buc Place on Friday morning, optimistic about improving on a disappointing 2-14 record last season.

A year ago, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy was jovial, doing interviews in a bathrobe, but Friday, he barely spoke a word as he reported for camp. Same for rookie quarterback Jameis Winston, who like McCoy will address the media after Saturday afternoon's first practice.

There was little doubt of perfect attendance, but two players hopeful of signing new extensions were also reporting as promised, with tackle Demar Dotson and linebacker Lavonte David filing in with the rest of their teammates.

"I've got high expectations. I want to be one of the best receivers in the game," said second-year receiver Mike Evans, who said he's lighter and expects to be faster, at under 230 pounds. "I'm excited to be back, excited to get the team started. Last year, I think we were the best 2-14 team ever. Our defense is going to be flying around like usual, and our offense will be much better." …

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LB Singleton back with Bucs as coaching intern

Three of Lovie Smith's former players will join the Bucs coaching staff for training camp, including another former Bucs linebacker in Alshermond Singleton, who is part of the Bill Walsh Minority Coaching Fellowship.

Singleton, 39, who played for the Bucs from 1997-2002 and was on Tampa Bay's Super Bowl championship squad, played linebacker under Smith as a Bucs assistant from 1997-2000. The Bucs already have two former linebackers on staff in linebackers coach Hardy Nickerson and director of football operations Shelton Quarles.

Two former Bears players will also be helping during training camp -- ex-receiver Johnny Knox, 28, who caught 12 touchdowns for the Bears from 2009-11, is also a Walsh fellow, and former Bears defensive end Mark Anderson, 32, who had 12 sacks as a rookie on Smith's Super Bowl team in 2006, will be on the staff as a Wooten-Nunn Scouting Fellow internship.

Former Bucs defensive back Donnie Abraham, who started 78 games for Tampa Bay from 1996-2001, was also working with the Bucs coaching staff during OTA workouts this summer.

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Bucs sign three new DBs, waive two

Two days before veterans report for the start of training camp, the Bucs have tweaked the bottom of their roster, signing three young defensive backs and waiving two undrafted rookies.

Gone are former Texas A&M cornerback Deshazor Everett and former Minnesota safety Derrick Wells, replaced by former Bowling Green cornerback Jude Adjei-Barimah, former South Carolina State safety Kimario McFadden and former West Chester corner Al-Hajj Shabazz.

Of the three, only McFadden has a history with the Bucs, having been briefly on the team's practice squad last season. Adjei-Barimah -- born in Italy, parents both born in Ghana, only moved to the U.S. when he was 10 -- had 82 tackles as a senior last season, while Shabazz -- the biggest of the three at 6-foot-2 -- had signed with the Colts after the draft, only to be recently cut. …

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Bucs to sign rookie CB Jude Adjei-Barimah

Adding depth before the start of training camp, the Bucs on Wednesday will sign cornerback Jude Adjei-Barimah, an undrafted rookie from Bowling Green.

Adjei-Barimah, 5-foot-11 and 200 pounds, had 82 tackles as a senior in 2014, including four tackles for loss. He went to rookie minicamp with the Jaguars as a tryout player, but was not signed.

His signing will bring the Bucs back to a maximum 90 players for the start of training camp Saturday, replacing C.J. Wilson, who was placed on the reserve-retired list last week after losing two fingers in a fireworks accident July 4.

The Bucs have only one other rookie cornerback on roster in Texas A&M's Deshazor Everett, and only one other rookie defensive back in safety Chris Hackett.

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Bowers will compete inside at defensive tackle

Da'Quan Bowers played primarily at defensive end in his four seasons with the Bucs, but general manager Jason Licht said Tuesday that the former second-round pick, re-signed Monday, will get a look as a defensive tackle.

The Bucs have four established veterans there in Gerald McCoy, Henry Melton, Clinton McDonald and Akeem Spence, so for Bowers to make the team, he'd likely need to convince the Bucs they need to carry a fifth defensive tackle. Bowers played some inside at "three technique" last season, especially in nickel situations.

The three games in which Bowers saw his most snaps were games in which McCoy was either inactive or limited by his broken hand; of Bowers' 21 tackles in 2014, 14 came in four games where McCoy was either sidelined or playing with his hand in a cast. …

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Bucs GM Licht: It's not all on Winston's shoulders

The Bucs are prepared for their 2015 season to be wild and unpredictable – a little like the right arm of rookie quarterback Jameis Winston.

But according to general manager Jason Licht, who hopes Winston’s mistakes will be kept to a minimum, the No. 1 pick in the draft has energized the entire organization.

“I think if you look at the history of all rookie quarterbacks, most of them, a high percentage of them, throw a lot of interceptions,’’ Licht said Tuesday. “I’d be remiss to not say we’re not expecting some ups and downs but we’re doing everything we can to minimize them as much as possible.''

Winston and the other Bucs rookies reported to training camp Monday. The full-squad will arrive Friday and the first practice is Saturday morning.

Licht said defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is the face of the franchise and Winston respects it. However, he said Winston has added a ‘spark,’ to the team and veteran players are excited about his arrival.

“We had a lot of players coming up to (coach) Lovie (Smith) and myself giving us their opinion on who they wanted and it was pretty overwhelming (Winston),’’ Licht said. "It’s always good when they’re excited about it. …

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Bowl trip: Bucs rookies preparing for busy camp

Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston reacts after missing a spare during a bowling tournament between the Buccaneers rookies and Tampa Fire Rescue rookies at Pin Chasers in Tampa Tuesday.

JAMES BORCHUCK | Times

Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston reacts after missing a spare during a bowling tournament between the Buccaneers rookies and Tampa Fire Rescue rookies at Pin Chasers in Tampa Tuesday.

Bucs veterans report for the start of training camp on Friday, but 21 rookies are already in town, reporting Monday for a busy week of meetings and getting acclimated for their first practice Saturday afternoon.

That included a bonding trip to Pin Chasers in Tampa on Tuesday morning for some friendly bowling competition with the rookies from Tampa Fire and Rescue, but the Bucs players said they have long days this week preparing for the grind of training camp this weekend.

"We're gearing up, and when the vets get here Friday night, it's going to be heavy," said rookie receiver Kenny Bell. "It's off to the races. There's no  ... I don't want to call it babying. We're in meetings, up at One Buc from 6:30 in the morning to 10 o'clock at night, so if you want to get your own study time in, which you have to, it's going to take a lot of extra work. The great thing is we have a ton of guys willing to put in that work." …

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Bucs give Da'Quan Bowers another shot

In four seasons with the Bucs, Da'Quan Bowers played in 50 games, including 10 starts, and recording a disappointing seven career sacks.

DIRK SHADD | Times

In four seasons with the Bucs, Da'Quan Bowers played in 50 games, including 10 starts, and recording a disappointing seven career sacks.

Da'Quan Bowers will get at least one more chance to show the Bucs -- and the NFL -- he is worth another look.

The Bucs re-signed Bowers, who hadn't garnered much attention as a free agent, to a one-year contract Monday, four days before players report to training camp. The deal includes no signing bonus or guaranteed money.

A second-round pick by the Bucs in 2011 after leading the nation in sacks at Clemson, Bowers hasn't lived up to lofty pre-draft expectations. In four seasons with the Bucs, he played in 50 games, including 10 starts, and recording a disappointing seven career sacks.

For that, Bowers was paid $3.885-million.

The Bucs are hoping Bowers will provide some depth to a defensive line that lacks a proven edge rusher. Bowers has shown some versatility with his ability to play inside at defensive tackle on passing downs.

Last season, Bowers played in 11 games and finished with 21 tackles and 1.5 sacks. …

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Jameis Winston effect? Prices rising for secondary Bucs tickets

Whether it’s the addition of No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston or something else, there appears to be a growing demand for Bucs tickets.

EVE EDELHEIT | Times

Whether it’s the addition of No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston or something else, there appears to be a growing demand for Bucs tickets.

Whether it’s the addition of No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston or something else, there appears to be a growing demand for Bucs tickets.

This time last year, the Bucs’ secondary tickets had a median price of $104, according to Vivid Seats, a secondary ticket marketplace. The average price was 27th in the league.

This year? The median ticket is selling for $154 on the secondary market – 18th in the league.

Seattle has the league’s highest median price ($412), according to Vivid Seats.

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Chris Leak part of Bucs' new community program

On a rainy Saturday morning at Skyway Park near the airport in Tampa, 41 young football players, ranging from fourth grade to high school, took part in the Bucs' first-ever "Cannonfire QB Clinic" youth camp, part of the team's new football development program.

The program, a community outreach effort that's an extension of the Bucs' marketing department, is comprised of a "Tampa 2" of director Darrell Taylor, who has a background with the Boys and Girls Clubs in Orlando, as well as Chris Leak, who was the starting quarterback on Florida's 2006 national championship team and was the Gators' receivers coach last season.

"It's another side of coaching -- developing it from a grassroots level. It's very rewarding," Leak said. "I've been under great coaches, and you see how important it is to build this game from the grassroots level up. It's only my first week, but I've had a great experience already. It's everything that encourages the safety of the game, the integrity of the game and just building lifelong fans." …

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Jameis Winston 'anxious' as Bucs training camp nears

Will Vragovic | Tampa Bay Times

Five days before the Bucs' full roster reports for training camp, rookie quarterback Jameis Winston said he's ready to get going.

"I'm anxious," Winston said Sunday afternoon. "I'm just looking forward to getting it started."

Winston, the No. 1 overall pick, was at Tropicana Field for the Rays' Florida State-themed Chop at the Trop. The Seminoles' Heisman Trophy winner caught the ceremonial first pitch from FSU coach Jimbo Fisher.

Fisher said Tampa Bay should be excited about Winston, because he's excited about the opportunity to play here.

"I think he'll do well," Fisher said of the quarterback who helped him capture the 2013 national championship. "I don't want to put too much pressure on him, but he's going to put pressure on himself. Jameis expects to do well. Again, like I've said before, I think he's everything, and everyone down here will find out what he is, and the people of Tampa will. I just think he's a tremendous, competitive player...

"I think hopefully he'll take off." …

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Jameis Winston lawsuit officially set for May 2017 trial

A federal judge has set a trial date for the sexual battery lawsuit filed against Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston.

A 10-day jury trial has been scheduled for May 1, 2017, according to a ruling filed Friday by U.S. District Court Judge Anne C. Conway in the Middle District of Florida. That's about a month later than the date attorneys for Winston and his accuser, Zephyrhills' Erica Kinsman, had agreed to in court documents filed earlier this week.

Kinsman sued Winston, the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner and the No. 1 overall pick in this year's draft, in April, claiming he raped her in December 2012 when they were both students at Florida State. Winston, who has never been arrested, has maintained his innocence and has filed a counterclaim against Kinsman, accusing her of defamation.

Conway also set a discovery deadline of Oct. 14, 2016 and a mediation deadline of Dec. 2, 2016. 

 

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Bucs made 'no promises,' to Dotson, who will report on time

Bucs right tackle Demar Dotson, who walked out of off-season workouts over a contract dispute, will report to training camp on time next Friday, general manager Jason Licht said Thursday.

But that doesn't necessarily guarantee Dotson will receive a new deal.

The Bucs pulled their offer for a multi-year extension worth at least $4-million per year after Dotson left voluntary workouts. Dotson did a couple smart things, He showed up for mandatory minicamp and dropped agent Greg Hobbs while signing with Joby Branion, reported last week by Greg Auman. Branion also represents Bucs' quarterback Mike Glennon and linebacker Bruce Carter.

Licht also had a face-to-face meetiing with Dotson to clear the air a bit.

The Bucs acknowledge the 29-year old Dotson is underpaid. But he has two years left on a contract that will earn him a base salary of $2.5-million in 2015 and $1.75-million in '16.

If Dotson performs as expected and maintaiins his starting spot early in camp, look for talks to begin between the Bucs and Branion. But Licht made no guaranteees. …

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