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Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

For Bucs on bubble, preseason finale far from meaningless

TAMPA -- For most of the Bucs' starters, it's a night off.

On the other end of the roster, however, tonight's preseason finale against the Redskins is the last chance. One more game to convince the Bucs you belong on the 53-man roster, which is why fullback Jorvorskie Lane will still play with his left hand heavily wrapped after a "deep, deep bruise" last week, and why cornerback Anthony Gaitor is playing safety for the first time since high school.

"I have to show I'm worth being on this roster, that I give something to this defense," said Larry English, a former Chargers first-round draft pick who is challenging for a job at defensive end. "I'm just trying to make a difference every snap that I'm out there, to show them I can get out there and work."

English, who joined the Bucs two weeks ago, halfway through preseason camp, had two sacks in Saturday's game at Buffalo, and he's battling another former high-round pick Da'Quan Bowers for a backup job. Bowers has missed the last two games with a groin injury and isn't likely to play tonight, and between injuries and starters resting, English should have a long final audition. …

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Who is Logan Mankins? Glimpse at new Bucs guard

We still don't know when Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins will join the Bucs here in Tampa or when he'll first speak with local media, but you can learn a lot about the 32-year-old by reading stories from his outstanding nine-year run with the Patriots.

Best story I've found? This 2005 piece from Jerome Solomon, then with the Boston Globe, looking at the frightening accident that changed Mankins' life as a teenager and his life growing up in a small town in the mountains of northern California, better known for winning $10,000 in rodeo roping competitions than anything involving football.

More fun reading from the Globe, this in today's paper in reaction to the surprise news of losing a veteran cog of the Patriots' consistent winners over the last nine years -- a 110-34 record since 2005, missing the playoffs once, winning at least 10 games every season since he arrived. This columnist says it "feels like the Bucs plundered the Patriots," and this story said the Mankins trade "wallops you out of nowhere."

We'll be writing a lot about Mankins in coming days, but here's a good start ...

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Ex-USF guard Warren excited for reunions in Tampa

Jeremiah Warren started all 38 games in his final three seasons as an offensive lineman at USF, and the 26-year-old is excited to return to Tampa after being claimed off waivers by the Bucs on Tuesday.

"I had just gotten back home to see family and got the call out of nowhere. It was a blessing in disguise," Warren said from his home in Panama City. "I look forward to playing back in Raymond James Stadium again. It's just like coming home for me."

Warren, who will join the Bucs on Wednesday, was at USF from 2007-11 and has been close to the NFL in each of the last two seasons. He was cut in preseason by the Patriots in 2012 and spent the year on the team's practice squad, attended the Bucs' rookie minicamp in spring 2013, had brief offseason stints with the Cardinals and Saints and wound up spending 10 weeks last season on the Browns' practice squad.

His offensive line coach in Cleveland was George Warhop, who is now the Bucs' offensive line coach, so there's a familiarity there that could help him stick in Tampa, if only on the team's practice squad. …

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Matt Patchan waived, Danny Gorrer on IR as part of Bucs roster moves

The Bucs placed cornerback Danny Gorrer on injured reserve.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times (2012)

The Bucs placed cornerback Danny Gorrer on injured reserve.

TAMPA – The Bucs made a flurry of roster moves Tuesday to trim their roster to 75 players by the 4 p.m. deadline.

They placed CB Danny Gorrer on injured reserve.

Gorrer played in 13 games for the Bucs over the last two years, recording 21 tackles, an interception and two passes defensed. Heading into his fifth NFL season, the Texas A&M product was the most experienced cornerback fighting with Rashaan Melvin and Keith Lewis for one of the final roster spots at that position.  

Gorrer missed practice last week because of an unknown injury and was inactive for Saturday’s preseason game against Buffalo.

The team also waived injured OT Matt Patchan, an Armwood High product and former Florida Gator. The Bucs also waived CB Deveron Carr and OT J.B. Shugarts.

The team added two players from waivers: DB Marc Anthony and former USF lineman Jeremiah Warren.

Anthony spent last season on the Bucs’ practice squad and was recently released by the Titans. Warren has been on the Patriots’ and Browns’ practice squads since entering the league as an undrafted free agent in 2012.

 

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Tedford, still sidelined, will miss Redskins game

Bucs offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford, still recovering from a medical procedure earlier this week, will not be in attendance for the team's preseason finale at home against the Redskins on Thursday night, coach Lovie Smith said.

"He is still out for a period of time. We don't exactly how long," he said. "We just know the procedure went well. He's fine, alert, up. We'll take our time with him. He will not be at the game Thursday and we hope to get him back soon."

Smith declined to say how his coaching staff will handle play-calling in Thursday's game, but quarterbacks coach Marcus Arroyo has been an offensive coordinator at the NCAA level. Tedford, 52, is coaching in the NFL for the first time after a long college career that included the head coaching job at Cal from 2002-12.

"Our staff will pick up the slack and we'll go from there," he said.

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Richie Incognito: Latest from Bucs GM and players

TAMPA – The Bucs’ addition of Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins doesn’t mean they’ve ruled out adding troubled but talented guard Richie Incognito.

“I wouldn’t put an end to that, but that’s just one of several options that are out there right now,” general manager Jason Licht said Tuesday afternoon in a news conference to announce the Mankins trade.

Licht said the Bucs have looked at several options to fortify the guard position, including the trade that sent a fourth-round pick and TE Tim Wright to the Patriots in return for Mankins, a six-time Pro Bowler.

As Licht praised Mankins, he twice mentioned that he believes Mankins will have a positive effect on the locker room. Miami suspended Incongito for the final eight games of last season after he was the center of a bullying scandal with the Dolphins.

Incognito had a five-hour meeting Monday night with Licht and the Bucs. Licht said the Bucs left the meeting by thanking Incognito for coming and saying they’d get back to him.

“It stands as an option…” Licht said. “We’ll continue to entertain all options that are out there, whether it’s a trade or whether it’s a player that’s on the street. …

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Bucs trade for Pro Bowl guard Mankins

TAMPA -- One day after courting former Dolphins guard Richie Incognito, the Bucs went in a different direction, making an even larger move to trade for Logan Mankins, a six-time Pro Bowl guard with the New England Patriots.

"We're very excited to acquire a player like Logan," said general manager Jason Licht, who worked in the Patriots' front office from 2009-11. "We feel very fortunate. Logan is a very good player. (I'm a) first-hand witness to what he means in the locker room as well. His play on the field speaks for itself."

To land Mankins, 32, who has been to the Pro Bowl five years in a row, the Bucs gave up second-year tight end Tim Wright and an undisclosed draft pick, reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter as a 2015 fourth-round pick. Offensive guard has been a major concern entering the season, and Mankins likely steps in at left guard as a fourth new starter on the offensive line.

"He's a great person, is going to be great for this locker room," Licht said.

The addition of Mankins likely puts the urgency to sign Incognito on the back burner -- Licht insisted the door was still open, but when asked about Mankins' age, he said "He's 32. Richie was 31." …

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Seferian-Jenkins trained with Incognito in offseason

Bucs rookie tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins had plenty of interaction with guard Richie Incognito as they trained together in Arizona this offseason, and he had nothing but positive things to say about his potential new teammate.

"He's the hardest worker I've seen," Seferian-Jenkins said before Tuesday's practice. "I enjoyed working out with him every day and it was fun getting in there and working out with him, doing the whole day with him. He's a great guy to me. I don't know what happened before, but what I know of him is a great guy."

Seferian-Jenkins, the team's second-round draft pick and a potential starter at tight end, said he texted Incognito on Monday night, when the former Dolphins guard spent five hours meeting with team officials. Incognito was suspended for the final eight games last season after an NFL investigation detailed inappropriate text messages and harassment of Dolphins teammates, as well as other conduct issues off the field.

The rookie said he had no problems with Incognito joining the team, and said he didn't think his teammates would have any problems embracing him in the locker room as well. …

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Incognito remains option for Bucs after 5-hr meeting

Richie Incognito met with Bucs coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jason Licht for about five hours.

AP photo

Richie Incognito met with Bucs coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jason Licht for about five hours.

Troubled but talented guard Richie Incognito remains an option for the Bucs after what the team termed a 'constructive meeting,' Monday.

Coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jason Licht had dinner with Incognito and met for about five hours with the former Miami Dolphins lineman who was suspended for the final eight games of 2014. He also took a physical for the Bucs.

No contract agreement was reached but Incognito remains an option. According to multiple reports, at least three teams are interested in Incognito, who was cleared by the NFL to be signed and begin playing on Monday. Incognito would like to have a deal with a team by the end of the week.

"We had a very constructive meeting with Richie,'' Licht said. "It went on for about five hours. We haven't ruled him out and he remains an option.''

The Bucs play their final game of the preseason Thursday against the Washington Redskins at Raymond James Stadium.

If Incognito were signed by the weekend, he would have more than a week to prepare for the Bucs' regular-season opener against Carolina at RJS Sept. 7.

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Richie Incognito: What does Lovie Smith's history tell us about troubled backgrounds?

As you might have heard, the Bucs brought in G Richie Incognito on Monday for a visit.

Head coach Lovie Smith stressed that it’s only a visit, but the questions are already swirling about Incognito’s previous troubles.

So how has Smith handled players with past problems of their own, when he coached the Bears? Let’s find out, after two quick caveats: This incomplete list comes with some help from the San Diego Union-Tribune, and, of course, every situation is different and should be treated as such, so be careful on how you connect the dots. That said…

WR Brandon Marshall: Has had multiple legal problems (See here). In 2012, the Bears traded two third-round picks to Miami for Marshall.

DT Tank Johnson: Arrested on gun charges in 2006, but was given clearance by the courts to play in the Super Bowl (he had half a sack). The Bears cut him in 2007, after another arrest.

WR Sam Hurd: Released after being arrested on federal drug charges.

RB Cedric Benson: Arrested twice on alcohol-related offenses and was cut.

LB Lance Briggs: Arrested for leaving the scene of an accident after an early-morning crash in his Lamborghini. Bears re-signed him. …

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Smith on Incognito visit: "I do believe in second chances.'

Committing only to a visit with troubled guard Richie Incognito, Bucs coach Lovie Smith said Monday he believes in giving players a shot at redemption.

Incognito, the center of the bullying and hazing scandal involving several Miami Dolphins linemen. was suspended the final eight games of 2013. He arrived in Tampa Monday afternoon but the Bucs haven’t decided whether a workout will be involved and no contract negotiations have taken place.

“I would like to talk to him myself,’’ Smith said Monday. “And you if you know my history, I do believe in second chances. To me, nobody should have a death sentence. If you should, you’re probably in jail. And then from there, what does it hurt to talk to someone? For me, as we go forward, I’m going to give everyone the benefit of the doubt until we have information that tells us otherwise.’’

Tampa Bay is the first NFL team Incognito has visited since the league’s probe determined he and two other Dolphins offensive linemen – John Jerry and Mike Pouncey – engaged in persistent harassment of tackle Jonathan Martin, who left the team last October. Martin has since signed with the 49ers. …

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Bucs in the Super Bowl? Clinton McDonald thinks so

As the Bucs prepare to get Carolina-ready in preparation for the season opener, DT Clinton McDonald is also stressing the importance of big goals – like the Super Bowl.

“We understand we’ve got a long ways to go before we get to Carolina and a long way to go before we go to Phoenix for the Super Bowl,” said McDonald, who won a ring with the Seahawks last season.

“This is all a journey for everybody. We laugh about it right now, but it’s just a belief you’ve got to have to win. I’m living proof of it. Coming from Seattle, when I first went over there, we weren’t Super Bowl ready. But the belief in it every year and the work ethic every year allowed us to get there.”

McDonald, for what it’s worth, said the success against Buffalo in the third preseason game was partially because of the defensive line starting to jell but also because of the strong play from the linebacker and secondary.

“We’ve still got things to cover, and we still have things to improve on,” McDonald said. “We’re close, but we’re not there yet.”

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Bucs OC Tedford undergoes medical procedure

Jeff Tedford will be "out for a short period of time," with no timetable for his return.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Jeff Tedford will be "out for a short period of time," with no timetable for his return.

Less than two weeks before the Bucs open the 2014 season, coach Lovie Smith said Monday that offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford had "a medical procedure" Monday morning, was resting comfortably and will be "out for a short period of time," with no timetable for his return.

"We'll keep Jeff in our prayers," Smith said. "Things should be OK."

Tedford, 52, was out of football last season after serving as head coach at Cal from 2002-12. Smith gave no details on the nature of the procedure or whether the team expected him to return by Thursday's preseason finale against the Redskins, or the regular-season opener at home against Carolina on Sept. 8.

Smith said the offensive staff would work together to coordinate the offense and call plays in Tedford's absence, if necessary.

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Bucs' Casillas apologizes for rules violation, suspension

Bucs starting strongside linebacker Jonathan Casillas, who did not travel with the team to Saturday's preseason game at Buffalo due to an unspecified violation of team rule

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

Bucs starting strongside linebacker Jonathan Casillas, who did not travel with the team to Saturday's preseason game at Buffalo due to an unspecified violation of team rule

TAMPA -- Bucs starting strongside linebacker Jonathan Casillas, who did not travel with the team to Saturday's preseason game at Buffalo due to an unspecified violation of team rules, apologized Monday, saying it's in the past.

"It's not something I'm happy with, but a mistake was made, the punishment was dealt and I had to deal with it," said Casillas, back practicing as normal on Monday. "It's tough because I don't want to miss a game or be a person labeled as somebody who violates any rules. I've never had a history of that or anything, but a mistake was made."

Casillas declined to elaborate on what he did to merit the suspension -- he said the transgression took place at One Buc Place, and "basically" not being where he needed to be at the right time. 

"A bit of miscommunication on my behalf. It was my mistake," he said. "I'm not perfect. I try to do things the right way here."

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Bucs players say they trust Lovie, would welcome Incognito

Lovie Smith tells his team to embrace any player who walks into the Bucs locker room. Richie Incognito would be no different.

Expressing complete trust in Smith and general manager Jason Licht, Bucs players asked Monday about the possibility of Incognito joining their team said they would welcome him 'with open arms.'

Incognito is visiting the Bucs today, making One Buc Place the first NFL facility he has appeared in since being implicated in the Jonathan Martin bullying scandal with the Miami Dolphins last season.

The harassment by Incognito and fellow offensive linemen John Jerry and Mike Pouncey contributed to Martin's departure from the team in October. Incognito was suspended by the Dolphins for the final eight games of the season.

"I don't make the decisions. I leave that to the guys upstairs,'' defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. "But as far as I'm concerned, as long as he can help the team, I'm all for it. I played against him a couple times, he's a good player, a Pro Bowl guy, a vet and I think he can help.''

Asked about Incognito's behavior off the field with the Dolphins, McCoy said, "That's fine, but he would be coming to my team so some stuff would have to change. …

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