The Bucs practiced at Tropicana Field on Wednesday afternoon -- and will do so again Thursday -- to avoid wet practice fields at One Buc Place and get a feel for the turf they'll play on Sunday at New Orleans.
"For a couple of reasons -- of course, there's a lot of rain here. Our fields are drenched," coach Lovie Smith said after his team worked out in the outfield at the Rays' home ballpark. "It is a different feel inside, catching the ball, looking in the lights, change of directions, all those things. And just a change of pace, to do something different for our players. A good productive day, no traffic issues, an easy-in-and-out day for us."
The Bucs last practiced at the Trop in September 2011 under Raheem Morris, when high temperatures sent the team indoors after dehydration issues in an especially hot home game against Detroit. Smith said as a general rule, his team will practice on its own fields unless it's clear that rain would make that difficult. …Full Story
Injured Bucs quarterback Josh McCown is improving but still not able to throw a football, coach Lovie Smith said Wednesday.
McCown, who tore a ligament in his right thumb in the first half of the Bucs' 56-14 loss to the Atlanta Falcons Sept. 18, still has not practiced.
There were multiple reports over the weekend that McCown would test his thumb by throwing footballs Monday.
"Josh isn't ready to throw a football yet,'' Smith said. "He's making progress. He didn't practice today. He's making progress.''
McCown is hoping his thumb can heal without surgery.
"His thumb is getting better each day,'' Smith said. "He doesn't have a whole lot of pain.''
McCown's status for Sunday's game at New Orleans won't be updated until Friday. In the meantime, the Bucs plan to start quarterback Mike Glennon, who led a last-second comeback win at Pittsburgh last week.
Bucs guard Logan Mankins wants more consistency in the team's running game, and in preparing for Sunday's game at New Orleans, he was encouraged, seeing the way the Cowboys were able to rush for 190 yards in a 38-17 win against the Saints last week.
"Dallas did a great job. We hope we can do as good a job as they did, but every Sunday's a different day," Mankins said Wednesday afternoon.
The Cowboys got 149 yards and two touchdowns from RB DeMarco Murray, but the same Saints defense held Minnesota to 59 rushing yards in a 20-9 win for New Orleans a week earlier. The Bucs -- who rushed for 157 yards against the Rams in Week 2 -- have managed just 64 and 63 rushing yards in the last two games, and Mankins said the offensive line to establish the run on a more regular basis.
"I feel we've been a little inconsistent with how good we've been with the run game. Pretty up and down," Mankins said. "(Opponents) have a big take in that. I think the o-line has to be a little more consistent. The running backs are doing a great job. I feel we need to do a better job for them." …Full Story
Before the offense can help the Bucs win consistently, they have to beat the play clock.
The Bucs had back-to-back delay of game penalties in last Sunday's 27-24 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. When they began the second half, quarterback Mike Glennon discovered the communicator in his helmet was dead. That was just the start of things.
"We came out, it was dead,'' said quarterbacks coach/offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo. "I think it started that second quarter coming out. It was loud and hostile, not hearing it exactly, maybe I’m thinking I have to be louder. Cleaning that stuff up is easy. Having that communication in the huddle, making sure guys can have it. If you’re in the gun, If you’re a guard, you’re on the side of the cadence. There’s a lot of things that go on with the communication that can be fixed.''
It won't get any easier for the Bucs this Sunday the Mercedes Dome against the New Orleans Saints. …Full Story
One moment from Sunday's game that went viral online was Bucs linebacker Danny Lansanah, left, tackling Antonio Brown, knocking down the arm of Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell as he signaled for a first down.
Especially after the Bucs rallied in the final seconds for a 27-24 win at Pittsburgh on Sunday, one moment from the game that went viral online was Bucs linebacker Danny Lansanah knocking down the arm of Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell as he signaled for a first down.
The play was with 10 minutes left in the third quarter, the game tied 17-17, as the Steelers pulled off a trick play, with a lateral to receiver Antonio Brown, who threw a pass to Bell for a 17-yard gain to the Bucs' 20. It would set up a go-ahead touchdown for Pittsburgh,
"I was kind of upset he got the first down," Lansanah explained Wednesday after his first NFL start. "I was walking past him and saw him out of the corner of my eye and saw his hand. It was just a natural reaction. I felt like it was in my way, so I just knocked it down and kept walking."
The Bucs kept Bell in check Sunday -- he had averaged 105 yards in his first three games at 5.9 a carry, but was held to 63 yards on 19 carries for a 3.3 average. That moment -- and Bell's no-he-didn't look afterwards -- drew praise from Lansanah's teammates as they reviewed tape from Sunday's win. …Full Story
One more minor transaction to share from Tuesday night, as the Bucs have signed rookie tight end Taylor Sloat of UC-Davis to their practice squad.
Davis, who had attended the Bucs' rookie minicamp after the draft in May, takes the spot of tight end Ian Thompson, another undrafted rookie who'd joined the practice squad a week earlier. The 6-foot-4, 245-pounder had 22 catches for 220 yards and three touchdowns as a UC-Davis senior last year, after getting 30 for 428 and two scores as a junior in 2012.
UC-Davis had a strong Jeff Tedford presence last year -- after his firing at Cal after the 2012 season, running game coordinator Ron Gould got the UC-Davis job and brought several Cal assistants with him. Three young assistants then left UC-Davis for the Bucs staff this year, including Sloat's position coach, Ben Steele, who is now the Bucs' offensive quality control coach. …Full Story
The Bucs made a few adjustments to their practice squad Tuesday, waiving TE Ian Thompson and LB Carlos Fields, then adding former Georgia Tech and Falcons receiver Kevin Cone.
Cone, 26, played extensively on special teams with the Falcons last season, finishing with seven tackles and averaging 18 snaps per game. He saw limited action on offense despite multiple injuries to the Falcons receivers, totaling 30 offensive snaps with one catch for 12 yards. Cone spent the preseason with the Dolphins -- he caught two passes for 30 yards against the Bucs -- but was among Miami's final cuts, later spending one week on the Cardinals' practice squad. He made his NFL debut with Atlanta in the final game of 2011 against the Bucs, playing in 12 games in 2012.
Cone's career is a lesson in persistence -- he started his college career at tiny Shorter College in Rome, Ga., playing one season with 12 catches for 83 yards. He transferred to Georgia Tech as a walk-on and started nine games at receiver in their run-focused offense, finishing his Yellow Jackets career with five catches for 89 yards, with a 22-yard touchdown catch in a loss to Miami in 2010. …Full Story
As the Bucs get ready to play at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday, they’re taking their preparation across the bay.
The team will practice at Tropicana Field on Wednesday and Thursday, the Bucs announced Tuesday evening.
The Trop has hosted plenty of football games in the past, including a college football bowl game (now called the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl) and the high school Under Armour All-America Game.
The Bucs haven’t won in New Orleans since 2011, and the Saints’ last home loss came against Carolina in December 2012.
The last two times the Bucs went to the Superdome, the Saints have scored 42 and 41 points in routing Tampa Bay, so you'll understand tackle Demar Dotson's respect for the New Orleans offense.
"We as an offense, I think we put up, what, 27 points (Sunday in beating Pittsburgh) last game?" Dotson said Tuesday. "We've going to take every bit of that and more. We're going to need turnovers from the defense ... We expect the Saints to put up 35 points. We have to be able to match that as an offense."
The Saints averaged 25.9 points a game last year, but have mustered only 24, 20 and 17 in their last three games. Watching the Cowboys rush for 190 yards in a 38-17 win against New Orleans on Sunday, Dotson was reminded of the importance of establishing the run Sunday.
"We've got to run the football. I think we can run the football on this team," Dotson said.
The Saints have won the last five meetings with the Bucs, who last won in New Orleans in 2011, forcing three turnovers in a 23-13 win.
It was at halftime of Sunday night's NFL game, with the Saints trailing the Cowboys 24-0 in what would end up a 38-17 Dallas win, when Bucs practice squad player Derrius Brooks posted a message on Twitter.com:
"And the Saints let me go......." wrote Brooks, a cornerback who was signed to the Bucs' practice squad after being among the final players cut by the Saints last month.
Brooks, who spent the entire offseason with the Saints, said his insights into his former team can help the Bucs prepare for Sunday's game at New Orleans, where both teams have 1-3 records.
"If guys have questions about the offense or the defense, I feel like I went through camp and know a lot of stuff that they do," Brooks said. "If anybody comes to me for little pointers, I know a few. Maybe I can give them a little help."
Practice-squad players can help teams scout opponents by simulating players and their tendencies, and Brooks is one of five practice-squad players who have been with the Bucs since the 53-man roster was set. Four others have already been promoted to the active roster, and Brooks said he'll be motivated this week as Tampa Bay prepares for his former team. …Full Story
Austin Seferian-Jenkins said it doesn’t matter whether fans or analysts argue that the Steelers lost the game rather than the Bucs winning it.
TAMPA – The Bucs don’t seem too fazed by the talk in Pittsburgh about their 27-24 win over the Steelers.
Pittsburgh has been critical of itself after the loss, with WR Antonio Brown saying they “just lost to one of the worst NFL teams in our house...We feel embarrassed. We feel shame.”
Bucs TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins said it doesn’t matter whether fans or analysts argue that the Steelers lost the game rather than the Bucs winning it.
“It’s a W,” TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins said. “If you want to say they lost the game, they lost the game. At the end of the day, we have a W. They got an L. That’s all that really matters.
“We won. We took it.”
Players seemed more upbeat in the locker room Tuesday after the Bucs’ first win of the season. C Evan Dietrich-Smith said the team feels good now, but that feeling can disappear quickly.
“We can’t act like that was the end-all, be-all kind of deal,” Dietrich-Smith said. “You’ve got to stack successes. You can’t just let one define you. If you win one and lose the rest of them, nobody’s going to remember the one you won.”
JIM DAMASKE | Times
Mason Foster has missed the last two games after dislocating his shoulder in the Rams loss.
Middle linebacker Mason Foster and safety Dashon Goldson, two key pieces of the Bucs defense who are limited by injuries, are question marks as the Bucs prepare for a prolific Saints offense Sunday in New Orleans.
Foster, who has missed the last two games after dislocating his shoulder in the Rams loss, said he's seen much improvement in the shoulder but isn't sure yet what he'll be able to do in practice or whether a return Sunday is in play.
"Getting a lot better. I feel good. We'll see what's going on this week," said Foster, who has not practiced since the injury. "I don't know yet (if Sunday is in play). We'll see how it goes. This is a big week. We'll know better tomorrow and see how I do each and every day."
Dane Fletcher has filled in for Foster in the last two games, and Foster said it has been hard for him to watch his teammates from the sidelines without being able to play.
"It's killing me," he said. "I live to play football kind of. It's tough watching from the sideline, but I try to do what I can to help the team win, if it means holding a clipboard or telling people what I see. I can't wait to play again." …Full Story
Every Bucs fan should have one of these in their backyard.
One lucky Bucs fan got a living room makeover, complete with a pirate ship -- and a visit from Warren Sapp -- thanks to a Bud Light advertising campaign.Full Story
Lovie Smith was non-committal in his choice of quarterbacks despite Mike Glennon's last-second heroics in a 27-24 win at Pittsburgh.
Quarterback Mike Glennon posted the first victory of the season for the Bucs Sunday, but he hasn't won the starting quarterback job.
Not yet, anyway.
With Josh McCown still out with a ligament tear in his right thumb and his status unknown for Sunday's game at New Orleans, coach Lovie Smith was non-committal in his choice of quarterbacks despite Glennon's last-second heroics in a 27-24 win at Pittsburgh.
"You asking me to name out starting quarterback right now? What I do is I look at who's available at the time and who gives us our best chance to win at all positions,'' Smith said. "We'll do the same thing when Josh gets back. He's not back yet, though.
Perhaps, but Glennon has a pretty good case after passing for 302 yards …Full Story
PITTSBURGH – A week ago, quarterback Mike Glennon got a text message from exiled receiver Louis Murphy, who was released by the Bucs a day before the regular season opener against Carolina. The exchange didn’t last very long.
That’s odd, because Murphy always talks about the Bucs. The former Gators and Lakewood High School star grew up rooting for his hometown NFL team. “A local guy who loves the Buccaneers,’’ coach Lovie Smith describes him. “He would do anything.’’
So last Tuesday, hoping to get a spark for the league’s 30th-ranked offense, Smith re-signed Murphy. “I was so thankful to get that call,’’ Murphy said. “I just didn’t want to let those guys down.’’
Murphy’s connection with Glennon proved to be even stronger on the field than off it Sunday in the Bucs’ improbable 27-24 upset of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
History will show that Glennon fired the winning 5-yard touchdown pass to Vincent Jackson with seven seconds remaining in the game. It will be documented that the Bucs took over at the Steelers 46 yard line trailing 24-20 with no timeouts and 40 seconds on the clock. …Full Story