Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Rain delays won't change Bucs' late-afternoon plans

TAMPA -- After months of waiting, the Bucs gathered in the end zone for their first practice Friday afternoon at One Buc Place, then broke the team huddle to the cheers of fans in the stands.

And 10 minutes later, alarms sounded for nearby lightning, sending the team inside for an hour and 50 minutes. The team returned, again to fans' delight, only to be sent in 40 minutes later by more lightning, ending their first day early.

Late-afternoon rains, a staple of summer in Florida, aren't going to change Lovie Smith's plans, which call for 4:30 starts for seven of the 14 remaining practices.

"That's not an ideal first day for us," said Smith, who is preparing his team for a 4:25 p.m. kickoff in Tampa for the team's season opener Sept. 8 against Carolina. "When we play Carolina, we could get a rain delay. You have to be able to go in and then come back out."

Smith likes having an early walkthrough practice, sharp minds for team meetings, then a practice under similar conditions to the Bucs' first two games. And the Bucs won't be in pads for full-contact drills until Sunday, so Smith isn't fretting missing part of a non-contact practice. …

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Bucs line will miss Nicks, but still confident

The Bucs' offensive linemen spoke with great respect for Carl Nicks after news that he and the team were parting ways, but at the same time, the remaining guards have confidence that they can step up as part of an improved Bucs line.

"Our group, we're not even sweating it," said Jamon Meredith, who opens preseason as the starting left guard after starting 20 games the last two seasons. "We're going to miss Carl a lot. We like him as a player, we like him as a guy. I think y'all are going to be a little bit more panicky than we're going to be. ... We've lost Carl a few times in the past and we were able to bounce back. It's one of those unfortunate things, but I think we're built ready, built to bounce back from this."

Meredith and fellow veteran Oniel Cousins have the first shot at starting guard jobs, but rookie Kadeem Edwards and second-year pro Patrick Omameh are also competing. The line has three entrenched starters in center Evan Dietrich-Smith and tackles Anthony Collins and Demar Dotson. …

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Bucs part ways with injured guard Carl Nicks

A half-hour after the first practice of preseason started, the Bucs announced that they have "mutually agreed to part ways" with former Pro Bowl guard Carl Nicks, who has been sidelined with a toe injury.

"I'd like to think the Buccaneers organization for working with me as I have attempted to get myself back on the football field," Nicks said in a statement. "However, after careful consideration, I have made the decision to step away from the game. This was by no means an easy decision, but I believe that it was what is best for me and my family, as well as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers."

Nicks, a two-time Pro Bowler with the Saints, signed a five-year, $47.5-million contract with Tampa Bay in 2012 but played only nine games in two seasons with the Bucs. He had been given an excused absence from the first two days of camp. He was limited last year by a MRSA staph infection in his toe, and he had not practiced with the team in the offseason. …

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Brooks named as appeals officer for NFL

Soon-to-be Hall of Fame linebacker Derrick Brooks, already a busy man in his retirement, has added another job to his work week, announced Friday by the NFL and NFLPA as a new appeals officer for the league.

Brooks, who will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame next week in Canton, will serve as an arbitrator for on-field discipline against players, deciding appropriate punishment for fines levied for actions during games. He replaces former Vikings star Matt Birk, and will be one of two appeals officers, along with former NFL coach Ted Cottrell.

Brooks already has plenty on his plate, working as president of the Arena Football League's Tampa Bay Storm, with the Tampa high school that bears his name and other work with his foundation. 

"Derrick views this game with a very unique understanding as both a player and a team president," said Troy Vincent, the NFL's executive vice president of football operations. "His review of appeals will be informed by experience as a player and as an executive." …

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Bucs claim LB Magee off waivers from Browns

The Bucs made two transactions Thursday as players reported for the start of training camp, claiming linebacker Brandon Magee off waivers from the Browns and placing defensive end Ronald Talley on the non-football injury list.

Magee, 23, played collegiately at Arizona State and played in eight games with Cleveland last year, totaling five tackles. He's the second linebacker added by the Bucs in as many days, joining undrafted rookie Jeremy Grable of Valdosta State.

Talley, who played three years with Arizona, is competing for a backup defensive end job and was signed by Tampa Bay last month. His agent declined to comment on any specifics of his injury when reached Thursday afternoon. It's unknown how long he'll be sidelined.

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Long wait over, Bucs arrive for preseason camp

TAMPA -- It was barely 7:15 a.m. Thursday when Gerald McCoy walked up to One Buc Place, reporting for training camp in a red robe and slippers like a kid on Christmas morning.

Many players had already arrived before sunrise, and if it seemed like the Bucs couldn't wait for their first camp under Lovie Smith, well, they weren't the only ones.

"I know I'm not jumping up with pompoms right now, but believe me, I've seen this day for a long time," Smith said. "We have. There's a lot of us excited about getting out there on the football field."

The team's first practice won't come until Friday afternoon -- fans can watch at 4:30 p.m. at One Buc -- and the team won't be in full pads for a few days, with the Bucs' regular-season opener still more than six weeks away. But with nearly seven months of buildup since Smith's hiring started a busy offseason of change, the start of camp brought a welcome end to so much prologue. …

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Nicks fails to report, excused a day for personal reasons

Carl Nicks, pictured during minicamp in June, did not report to training camp Thursday and was excused for personal reaasons, coach Love Smith, right said.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

Carl Nicks, pictured during minicamp in June, did not report to training camp Thursday and was excused for personal reaasons, coach Love Smith, right said.

Bucs guard Carl Nicks hasn't gone to work on a football field in about 10 months. He will have to wait at least another day.

Nicks did not report to training camp Thursday and was excused for personal reasons, coach Lovie Smith said. The absence apparently is not related to the toe injury or surgery for MRSA which has prevented Nicks from playing more than nine games in two seasons with the Bucs. Smith said he is excused only for the day.

"It doesn't concern me,'' Smith said. "It's part of training camp, part of life.

"During the course of the year, you're going to have some guys where things come up and they can't be here. What you can't do is concentrate on that a whole lot. Everything is fine. There's just too much going on with the rest of the crew. Just concentrate on the guys that are here right now.''

Two other injured players who missed off season workouts -- safeties Mark Barron and Dashon -- will be available when the team hits the practice field for the first time at 4 p.m. Friday. …

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McCoy excited about improved Bucs offense, McCown

Gerald McCoy arrived for training camp wearing a robe and slippers.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Gerald McCoy arrived for training camp wearing a robe and slippers.

TAMPA -- Gerald McCoy is eager to see the Bucs defense get back to being a dominating unit, but he has high expectations for improvement on the other side of the ball this season as well.

"I'm really excited to see what happens with our offense. They have so many dynamic players on that side of the ball," he said. "I'm excited to see how the o-line comes together. I don't know how much people really know how good Josh McCown is. I think a lot of people are about to see how good he really is."

McCown, 35, enters the season entrenched as the team's starting quarterback ahead of Mike Glennon, who started 13 games as a rookie last year. McCoy said there's a true leadership to McCown, who has gained much experience in 11 NFL seasons without the wear and tear of being a regular starting quarterback the whole way.

"People don't realize how athletic he is," said McCoy, wearing a robe and slippers as players arrived to report for training camp at One Buc Place just after 7 a.m. Thursday. "He's (35), but with the amount of time he's played, he's 28. His mental capacity is as old as it gets. He's been around for a while. His leadership ability is incredible, and he's going to lead this team." …

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Bowers eager to show he can play up to potential

Da'Quan Bowers totaled just seven tackles last season and underwent knee surgery after being sidelined at the end of the year.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Da'Quan Bowers totaled just seven tackles last season and underwent knee surgery after being sidelined at the end of the year.

TAMPA -- The morning after his general manager challenged him to show up and prove something in training camp, Bucs defensive end Da'Quan Bowers said he knows he must be more than he's been in his first three NFL seasons.

"No question about it, I owe it to this organization, owe it to this team. I've been here long enough, and I haven't really been that player that I know I can be," he said. "I think it's time I really put forth that extra foot, to be that player that I know I'm capable of being."

Bowers totaled just seven tackles last season and underwent knee surgery after being sidelined at the end of the year. Bucs general manager Jason Licht said Wednesday night that he had to be "blunt" about Bowers showing his commitment to playing at the NFL level. In three seasons, the former second-round pick has totaled 5.5 sacks but said he's now physically in the best shape he's been.

"This is probably the best I've felt coming into camp over the past couple of years," he said. "It's been a consistent offseason for me. I've put in the work. I'm ready to finally reap the benefits." …

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QB Josh McCown 'humbled,' by chance to start in 13th season

Josh McCown went 3-2 as a starter with the Bears last season, throwing 13 touchdowns and only one intercepetion.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Josh McCown went 3-2 as a starter with the Bears last season, throwing 13 touchdowns and only one intercepetion.

Bucs quarterback Josh McCown reported to his 13th training camp Thursday, but it's his first as a starter in a decade.

The 35-year-old McCown was last counted on as the No. 1 quarterback in 2004 with the Arizona Cardinals, where he failed to throw a touchdown in his first four games.

"Again, very humbling, especially at this stage,'' McCown said. "But I'm excited because you know where you stand going into camp so it's definitely a little bit of a departure from different years. But I'm excited about it. I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be fun. 

"It's  a fun time of year, just going to camp. It's always the same feeling. You get a little bit of butterflies, nerves and anxiousness just to get  started. But for me, being in my 13th year, it's humbling just to able to do this so I'm very thankful for the opporuntity. It's very cool.'' …

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Licht: Time for DE Bowers to show something

TAMPA -- Bucs players report for preseason training camp at 6:30 a.m. Thursday, and general manager Jason Licht made it clear Wednesday that there's some urgency to defensive end Da'Quan Bowers showing up and proving something to coaches.

"The one player we hope shows up in shape and proves to us he wants to be a football player is Da'Quan Bowers, to be blunt about it," Licht said during an hourlong "town hall meeting" session on 620 WDAE AM. "We need him to show up. He needs to prove to us that he wants to be on this team. We hope that he does and we're rooting for him."

Bowers, a former second-round pick from Clemson, has had limited production in three seasons and is now fighting for a roster spot against the likes of second-year pro Steven Means and undrafted rookie Chaz Sutton. Bowers made headlines from South Carolina this week when a friend was reportedly arrested for disorderly conduct after a night of drinking, but Licht said he had no problem on that with Bowers, who had called police himself.

"He did the right thing, tried to defuse it," Licht said. "I can't hold that against him." …

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Bucs release nickel Moore, add two

Two days before players report for the start of preseason training camp, the Bucs have released veteran D.J. Moore, a former Bears player who was a candidate for the team's starting nickel defensive back job.

The departure of Moore, who played under Lovie Smith in Chicago, leaves third-year pro Leonard Johnson in good position at nickel, though former USF corner Mike Jenkins could step into that role if he can't beat out Johnthan Banks for a starting corner job. The team also announced the signings of linebacker Jeremy Grable, an undrafted rookie from Valdosta State, and offensive tackle J.B. Shugarts, who has been in camp with four teams over the past two years but has not played in any NFL games. …

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In Tampa Bay, Dungy never ran from distractions

Tony Dungy, right, traded for mercurial Jets receiver Keyshawn Johnson, left, in 2000.

JAMES BORCHUCK | Times (2000)

Tony Dungy, right, traded for mercurial Jets receiver Keyshawn Johnson, left, in 2000.

Tony Dungy attemped to clarify his remarks regarding Rams defensive end Michael Sam. In a statement released Tuesday by Pro Football Talk, Dungy said, "I was asked whether I would have drafted Michael Sam and I answered that would not have drafted him.  I gave my honest answer, which is that I felt drafting him would bring much distraction to the team.''

The interview took place sometime in May, based on Dungy's recollection that at the time of the interview, the Oprah Winfrey reality show had announced it would chronicle Sam's first pro season.

Sam, who announced he was gay prior to the NFL draft, was selected in the seventh round by the Rams.

"I was not asked whether or not Michael Sam deserves an opportunity to play in the NFL.  He absolutely does,'' Dungy said. "I was not asked whether his sexual orientation should play a part in the evaluation process.  It should not. I was not asked whether I would have a problem having Michael Sam on my team.  I would not.''

So why wouldn't Dungy draft Sam? …

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Dungy issues statement on Michael Sam comments

Former Bucs coach Tony Dungy issued a statement on Tuesday afternoon in an attempt to clarify his comments on Michael Sam.

NBC Photo: Paul Drinkwater (2009)

Former Bucs coach Tony Dungy issued a statement on Tuesday afternoon in an attempt to clarify his comments on Michael Sam.

After a day of national reaction to comments that he would not draft Rams rookie Michael Sam, former Bucs coach Tony Dungy issued a statement on Tuesday afternoon in an attempt to clarify his comments.

In a story published Sunday morning in the Tampa Tribune, Dungy said as to whether he would draft Sam, who is openly gay: "I wouldn’t have taken him. Not because I don’t believe Michael Sam should have a chance to play, but I wouldn’t want to deal with all of it. It’s not going to be totally smooth … things will happen."

Dungy's statement does little to change the context of his quote, other than to call into question when the statement was made -- at least two months ago, according to his timeline. Here is the statement in full, as published at ProFootballTalk.com.

"On Monday afternoon while on vacation with my family, I was quite surprised to read excerpts from an interview I gave several weeks ago related to this year’s NFL Draft, and I feel compelled to clarify those remarks. …

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Derrick Brooks on Tony Dungy, prepping for Hall of Fame speech and more

Derrick Brooks, left, said he wasn’t in a position to judge whether Tony Dungy was being treated fairly for his remarks on Michael Sam.

AUSTIN ANTHONY | Times

Derrick Brooks, left, said he wasn’t in a position to judge whether Tony Dungy was being treated fairly for his remarks on Michael Sam.

With his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame a week and a half away, Derrick Brooks held a conference call with reporters Tuesday morning to talk about a number of issues.

Let’s start with his remarks on the controversy du jour – former Bucs coach Tony Dungy’s recent remarks that he wouldn’t have drafted Michael Sam because of the hoopla that would have accompanied the NFL’s first openly gay player. Responding to a question on the subject, Brooks prefaced his response by saying he hadn’t spoken with Dungy yet.

The rest of Brooks’ reply: “I just generally feel that he’s probably saying what 31 other teams were probably thinking in that regard. They didn’t draft him, for whatever reason. He was just saying, if he were a head coach, this is how he would have approached the situation, or approached the player’s situation.”

Brooks said he wasn’t in a position to judge whether Dungy was being treated fairly for his remarks. …

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