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Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

After week off, Bucs excited about Holliday

TAMPA -- As the Bucs seek a spark to change their team after a 1-5 start, that could change on the opening kickoff Sunday, when Bucs fans may get their first look at new return specialist Trindon Holliday, who joined the team Wednesday.

Since the start of the 2012 season, Holliday has an NFL-high six touchdowns on kick returns -- three on punts, three on returns -- while the Bucs and five other teams have none in the same span. With track-star speed in a tiny 5-foot-5 frame, Holliday gives Tampa Bay a scoring threat the team has lacked in recent years.

"He's one of those guys that can make a difference in a game instantly," said receiver Russell Shepard, a college teammate of Holliday's at LSU. "All he needs is one touch. A lot of guys around here say (former Bucs RB Jeff) Demps is the fastest guy they've played with, but Trindon is the fastest I've ever played with. I look forward to watching him." …

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There's 'not a QB controversy,' as Glennon will start vs. Vikings

Josh McCown is throwing footballs again but Mike Glennon still will continue to be the Bucs starting quarterback against the Vikings Sunday.

Coach Lovie Smith did not officially name a starter but gave no indication there would be a change even when McCown is healthy.  

"The quarterback position, it seemed like a lot of cameras were on the quarterback position,'' Smith siad. "We don't have a quarterback controversy. Our quarterback position has been strengthened with Josh coming back.''

Smith said McCown 'We'll see how the week goes. As soon as we feel (McCown) is fully ready to play, he'll have a role with us.''

Offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo said he was excited to see McCown throw in practice Monday but indicated nothing had changed about their plan at quarterback.

"The key is perception. And there's not a quarterback controversy that's going to be created here,'' Arroyo said. "We've got two good quarterbacks who I'm really excited to have in our room. Whoever goes out there is  going to give us a chance to win. They've boith have done good thigns and with both, I've had opportunities to make them better. Starting with me, I can make them better. '' …

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Mike Zimmer considered using kidney stones as message for Vikings' toughness

Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer was hospitalized last week for kidney stones and had a procedure done Tuesday to remove them.

As Zimmer’s Vikings prepare to play the Bucs on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium, Zimmer spoke with Bucs reporters this morning. Zimmer said his health is doing better – and he almost had a surprise for his team.

“I told the team today that I was going to have a video of my procedure and show it to them this morning, but I didn’t do that,” Zimmer said. “To show them about toughness.”

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Bucs sign Holliday, cut Patton amid flurry of moves

Returning from their bye week, the Bucs made a handful of roster moves Tuesday, most notably the signing of former Broncos return specialist Trindon Holliday and the release of undrafted rookie Solomon Patton, who had handled return duties in the first six games.

The Bucs also cut defensive end Scott Solomon and promoted T.J. Fatinikun from the practice squad -- they'll need help on the defensive line in the next two games while Da'Quan Bowers is suspended for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances.

Tampa Bay also released former Stanford linebacker Shayne Skov from the practice squad, and with two spots open there, the Bucs signed receiver Marcus Thigpen and former Florida State linebacker Mister Alexander to the practice squad. Alexander has played in the CFL and even with the Omaha Mammoths of the new FXFL in recent weeks; Thigpen has been on the Patriots' and Dolphins' practice squads this season.

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Bucs DL Bowers suspended 2 games for PEDs

Bucs defensive lineman Da'Quan Bowers has been suspended for two games without pay for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances, the team's second such suspension in the past week.

Bowers, who has provided depth at defensive tackle and end this season, will miss the Bucs' home game Sunday against the Vikings, as well as the game at Cleveland next week, then can return to the roster on Nov. 3. His suspension will coincide with that of fullback Jorvorskie Lane, who was handed down the same suspension last week.

Bowers, a former second-round pick from Clemson, has totaled just six tackles in five games this season. There was no immediate response to a call to his agent, Brad Leshnock, seeking a comment on the suspension. Lane said last week that he was taking an over-the-counter dietary supplement that he did not know contained a banned substance.

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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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