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Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Ex-NFL 1st-rounder Derrick Alexander arrested on DUI charge

Derrick Alexander, an All-American defensive end at FSU and first-round NFL draft pick in 1995 who was head coach at Bishop McLaughlin from 2011-13, was arrested early Sunday morning on a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence.

Alexander, 41, was arrested in Pinellas County and booked at 3:44 a.m., then released later Sunday morning on $500 bond. His only previous arrest was in Tampa in 2013 for failing to appear in court on a Pinellas citation for driving with a suspended or revoked license.

Alexander was drafted No. 11 overall in the 1995 NFL draft (one spot before the Bucs took Warren Sapp) and played five seasons in the league, four with the Vikings, totaling 20 sacks in his career. He was a key part of FSU's 1993 national championship team, recording a team-high 11 tackles in the final Orange Bowl win against Nebraska.

He took over at Bishop McLaughlin's head coach in 2011, going 12-19 in three seasons before the school announced in 2014 he was stepping down and would remain as a consultant.

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Warren Sapp's Nevada arrest re-opens Arizona case

Pro Football Hall of Famer and former Buccaneer Warran Sapp stands on the field during Super Bowl XLVII, between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers in New Orleans.

Getty Images (2013)

Pro Football Hall of Famer and former Buccaneer Warran Sapp stands on the field during Super Bowl XLVII, between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers in New Orleans.

Former Bucs star and Hall of Famer Warren Sapp's arrest in Nevada on domestic violence charges has caused him to be dropped from a pre-trial diversion program in Arizona, where prosecutors have summoned him for a July 31 court date to re-open an assault charge against him.

According to court documents issued Tuesday in Arizona, the 42-year-old Sapp "failed to meet the terms and conditions" of a plea agreement he entered into after a February arrest in Phoenix on charges of soliciting a prostitute and assault. Sapp was able to have the solicitation charge dismissed by completing a pre-trial program, but will now go to court on the assault charge.

Sapp's plea agreement included language stating that if he was "arrested or charged with any criminal offense" before completion of its requirements, he can be terminated from the program and prosecutors can ask the court to impose a sentence including 30 days in jail and two years of probation. The Arizona arrest cost Sapp his job as a TV analyst with NFL Network. …

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Jameis Winston surprises young fan with signed ball

After being recognized by 11-year-old Aden Ponce at a Houston Astros game on Sunday, Jameis Winston gave Ponce an Astros ball as a gift, even autographing it.

JAMES BORCHUCK | Times

After being recognized by 11-year-old Aden Ponce at a Houston Astros game on Sunday, Jameis Winston gave Ponce an Astros ball as a gift, even autographing it.

Bucs rookie quarterback Jameis Winston has been busy trying to win over fans this spring, and that apparently is the case even when he's far from his new community in Tampa.

Winston was at a Houston Astros game in Texas on Sunday when he was recognized by 11-year-old Aden Ponce, who went to the game with his youth baseball team from Austin after their tournament had been rained out. Ponce shook Winston's hand in line at a merchandise store in the ballpark and was surprised moments later as he checked out when Winston gave him an Astros ball as a gift, even autographing it.

"My son recognized him," said Karry Ponce, his mother, who posted photos of Aden and Winston on Twitter. "We were paying for my son's merchandise and he came up behind him and said 'Here you go, little buddy' and handed him the ball, autograph and all. ... He was, needless to say, being nice to everybody around him and in his personal space. I was way cool that he came back over out of the blue and did that for Aden." …

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TSA: Ray-Jay stadium upgrade talks going 'quite well'

Ongoing negotiations to finalize a package of facility upgrades next year for Raymond James Stadium are "progressing quite well," the Tampa Sports Authority's Bobby Silvest said Monday.

The Bucs have been in talks with Hillsborough County and the TSA on the scope and funding of stadium upgrades, which will likely include a new set of video boards. The stadium will play host to college football's national championship game after the 2016 season and while improvements were promised as part of that bid process, they likely would be in place for the 2016 season for the Bucs and USF.

Silvest, TSA's vice president for marketing and communications, said he's optimistic a deal can be completed in the "very near future," though the earliest time for such an announcement would be after the TSA's next board meeting, which is scheduled for July 27.

Last month, Hillsborough County commissioner Ken Hagan was hopeful that a deal was coming "in weeks," and such a package would help Tampa's bid to host a Super Bowl in 2019 or 2020 -- the city is one of four finalists for those two games, along with Atlanta, Miami and New Orleans.

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TMZ: Warren Sapp facing domestic violence charges in Vegas

Warren Sapp was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2013 and the Bucs' Ring of Honor that same year.

Getty Images

Warren Sapp was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2013 and the Bucs' Ring of Honor that same year.

Former Bucs defensive tackle and Hall of Famer Warren Sapp's off-field problems have escalated, as he is facing three counts of domestic violence in Nevada, accused of stepping on his girlfriend's head and biting her, according to a report from TMZ.com.

Sapp already lost his job as an analyst for NFL Network in February after an arrest in Arizona on charges of assault and soliciting a prostitute. According to the TMZ report, he is due in court July 23 on the Las Vegas charges.

Sapp was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2013 and the Bucs' Ring of Honor that same year.

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Bucs' Gerald McCoy ranks 28th on top player list

Gerald McCoy smiles before a November game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Raymond James Stadium.

Associated Press (2014)

Gerald McCoy smiles before a November game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Raymond James Stadium.

For the second year in a row, Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy leads the team's presence on the NFL Network's countdown of the league's top 100 players, which unveiled him at No. 28 on Wednesday night.

McCoy was at No. 28 last year as well, and it speaks well of his reputation across the league that he didn't drop at all despite missing three games (and most of a fourth) with multiple injuries last season. He still had a team-best 8.5 sacks, again ranking among the league's best defensive tackles.

Here's a video clip on McCoy that aired as part of the show -- both highlights and interviews with opponents and teammates.

McCoy should round out the Bucs' presence in the NFL countdown -- linebacker Lavonte David dropped from No. 35 last year to No. 56 in this year's rankings, and receiver Mike Evans made his debut at No. 75 after catching 12 touchdown passes as a rookie in 2014.

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Bucs to open training camp on Aug. 1

The Bucs will open training camp on Saturday, Aug. 1 with the first of their 11 days that will be open to the public.

Here's the team's full training camp schedule for events at One Buc Place:

Saturday, Aug. 1: 2:30-5 p.m.

Sunday, Aug. 2: 4:30-7 p.m.

Monday, Aug. 3: 2:30-5 p.m.

Tuesday, Aug. 4: 9-11:30 a.m.

Thursday, Aug. 6: 2:30-5 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 8: 2:30-5 p.m.

Tuesday, Aug. 11: 2:30-5 p.m.

Wednesday, Aug. 12: 2:30-5 p.m.

Monday, Aug. 17: 2-4:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Aug. 18: 2:30-5 p.m.

Wednesday, Aug. 19: 2:30-5 p.m.

 

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Bucs may use virtual reality to aid QB Jameis Winston

TAMPA -- The Bucs should have the youngest starting quarterback in the NFL this fall in rookie Jameis Winston, and they also may have the newest technology in place to help him handle the challenges of facing NFL defenses.

The team has talked to a Stanford-based company with a "virtual reality" technology that allows a quarterback to go back through a practice play from a 360-degree angle, a new advance that the Dallas Cowboys have already found success with this summer.

"I actually talked to Tampa this morning, and we can start it for them on Day 1 of training camp," said Derek Belch, a former Stanford kicker and assistant coach who is now the founder of StriVR Labs, which has Auburn, Arkansas, Stanford among its clients. "I know they've looked at  a couple other options ... We're probably going to get back down there in a couple of weeks, really sit down with them and go through everything and hammer it out." …

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Where the Bucs are lining up, minicamp edition

The Bucs have canceled the third and final practice of their mandatory minicamp, opting for an "offsite team activity," which looks like some mandatory ... bowling. Texans also nixed their last practice today, and it speaks to the team already getting what they wanted in terms of implementing scheme and having a sense for what they have on roster, albeit in non-contact practices.

These two days have given a sense for the pecking order going into training camp, when the process of paring a 90-man roster down to 53 begins in earnest. We've seen the team take advantage of its waiver priority in claiming players waived elsewhere -- in safety D.J. Swearinger, linebacker Khaseem Greene, punter Spencer Lanning and tight end Tim Wright, you have four players who could easily make the final 53.

Here's a position-by-position overview of who the Bucs have (how many in parentheses) and what the position battles should be: …

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McCoy's advice to Winston: be a rookie, not a rah rah guy

Quarterback Jameis Winston received advice from defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who knows how a highly drafted rookie can be swallowed by expectations.

EVE EDELHEIT | Times

Quarterback Jameis Winston received advice from defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who knows how a highly drafted rookie can be swallowed by expectations.

Quarterback Jameis Winston is getting a lot of free advice these days, but there is some he really values.

It's the advice he has received from defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who knows how a highly drafted rookie can be swallowed by expectations.

McCoy was the third overall pick out of Oklahoma of the Bucs in 2010 but suffered a torn biceps in each arm his first two seasons, playing in only 19 games and recording three sacks.

Since then, McCoy has been named to three consecutive Pro Bowls and tallied 23 sacks. …

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Bucs rookie LB Josh Keyes making name for himself

Undrafted rookie linebacker Josh Keyes had been under the radar enough that Bucs teammates that did know him didn't necessarily know how to pronounce his last name, which rhymes with "wise." After a leaping interception in Tuesday's minicamp practice, coach Lovie Smith made a point to make sure he was recognized -- with the correct pronunciation -- as the team reviewed tape from drills.

"He made an incredible catch. Coach was like 'Does anybody know who Josh Keyes is?'" defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said Wednesday, asked for an undrafted rookie who has impressed him so far. "He said 'If you know who Josh Keyes is, stand up.' Some guys stood up, and he's like 'Josh, stand up.' He's in the room and nobody even noticed him. Coach's point was you need to make plays to be known. Yesterday he made such a spectacular interception that now, when I see him today, I'm like 'What's up, Josh?'" …

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Dotson back with Bucs, happy to avoid fines

Demar Dotson doesn't have a new contract yet, but after sitting out two weeks of voluntary workouts, he was back at One Buc Place for the first day of mandatory minicamp, and blunt about his reasons for returning.

"I didn't want to lose any money," said Dotson, who faced fines of at least $72,920 had he missed all three days of minicamp. "It's like $100,000, and I got some good advice there. You don't want to lose that money. I don't have $100,000 to lose, so I wanted to keep my money. That was the only way to keep negotations going throughout these six weeks going to training camp."

Dotson is due to make $2.5-million this season as part of a three-year extension he signed in 2013, with the potential to escalate his 2016 salary from $1.75-million to $2.75-million with playing-time incentives. That's still below average for a player who has started 47 of 48 games in the last three seasons. The Bucs were close to finalizing a new deal with a raise and extension before Dotson opted to stop attending voluntary workouts, and they pulled their offer, citing a team policy of not negotiating while players are absent from team activities. …

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Tim Wright excited to be back with Bucs

Ten months after he was traded to the Patriots as part of the deal for Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins, tight end Tim Wright was back in a Bucs uniform on Tuesday, happy for familiar surroundings after being waived by New England.

"Some familiar faces, same facility, everything just flew back into what it was," said Wright, wearing a No. 85 jersey, since his old 81 is taken. "I'm pretty happy about that transition and being able to step in and contribute right away."

Wright, one of five tight ends on roster likely competing for three or four spots this fall, made an impact right away, coming down with several catches as the Bucs opened their three-day mandatory minicamp. He caught six touchdown passes for the Patriots last year -- Bucs tight ends collectively caught two -- but said he understood the Patriots' decision to cut him was part of life in the NFL.

"It's a business. You can't control that," said Wright, who also caught five touchdowns as a Bucs rookie in 2013. "Whatever opportunity you get, you just have to take advantage of it." …

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Winston on No. 1 QB job: "I haven't earned it until I get it.'

Quarterback Jameis Winston spent much of Tuesday's mandatory minicamp throwing passes to undrafted rookie Adam Humphries, second year pro Robert Herron and Russell Sheppard, who makes his living primarily covering kicks.

It was just another day of the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft taking reps with the Bucs' number twos, threes and fours on offense.

When would Winston like to take over the huddle as the Bucs' starting quarterback?

"As soon as I earn it,'' Winston said. "With this camp being the last week (before the team reports for training camp in Aug.), I feel like I've had great practices day in and day out and I'm just enjoying it. I haven't earned it until I get it.''

While Winston has alternated with third-year pro Mike Glennon during off-season workouts -- and will do so again this week -- coach Lovie Smith is not ready to hand the position over to the Heisman Trophy winner just yet. So despite the limited amount of time to prepare a rookie quarterback, Winston isn't throwing exclusively to starting receviers such as Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson.

Nor is he going against the Bucs' No. 1 defense that includes Gerald McCoy and Lavonte David. …

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Another DUI arrest for Storm: VP Jeff Gooch, ex-Bucs LB

For the second time in a month, the Tampa Bay Storm have had key personnel arrested on a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence, with vice president of football operations Jeff Gooch, the former Bucs linebacker, arrested in Hillsborough County early Sunday morning.

Gooch, 40, was stopped by Florida Highway Patrol officers and arrested at 2:33 a.m. Sunday, refusing a blood-alcohol test according to arrest reports. The arrest location is listed as the intersection of the Veterans Expressway and Hutchison Road. He was released on $500 bond at 10:50 a.m. Sunday.

His arrest comes less than a month after assistant head coach Chris Hovan, another former Bucs player and teammate of team president Derrick Brooks, was arrested on May 15. He faces charges of DUI with property damage and DUI while accompanied by a minor; the  team declined to comment after his arrest and he remains listed on the team's coaching staff online.

Gooch spent 10 years in the NFL from 1996-2005, including eight seasons with the Bucs, only one as a full-time starter on defense. He is in his fourth season with the Storm in his current role, having joined the team's front office with Brooks in 2011. …

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