Clear75° WeatherClear75° Weather

Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs sign McCoy to 7-year, $95.2-million extension

The Bucs have had trouble buying a win this season, but the smart money may be on their future after the team locked up their best player for years and years to come.

The Bucs made Gerald McCoy the highest-paid defensive tackle in the NFL, signing him to a 7-year, $95.2-million contract extension Saturday.

The deal includes $51.5-million in guarantees and averages $13.6-million per year. That ranks fourth among all defensive linemen behind only the Texans J.J. Watt, the Bills' Mario Williams and the Rams Robert Quinn.

"From the moment Lovie and I arrived here, we knew it was vital for us to keep Gerald in Tampa Bay long term as one of the cornerstones of our franchise,'' Bucs general manager Jason Licht said in a release by the team. "With the backing of the Glazer family, we were able to accomplish that. On the field, Gerald is one of the best players in the National Football League, who has been extremely productive and will be for years to come. We are happy to reward someone that has a rare work ethic, which not only makes him an elite player, but serves as an example for our entire team.'' …

Full Story

Bucs, for once, healthy as Vikings come to town

As much as at any time this season, the Bucs look to be healthy Sunday when the Vikings come to town, with the extra rest of a bye week allowing several key players to recover from lingering injuries.

"We realize only 46 guys can (play out of 53), but it's good to have everybody in front of us, to be able to choose," said coach Lovie Smith, naming only backup linebacker Brandon Magee (knee) as being out for Sunday. "The week has gone the way we wanted it to in all phases."

As many as five players who missed the last game with injuries could be active Sunday, including two starting defensive backs in cornerback Johnthan Banks (neck) and safety Dashon Goldson (ankle). Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (hand) and defensive end Michael Johnson (ankle) have had two weeks to get healthier after playing through injuries for much of the first six games, and the defensive depth should be improved with linebacker Jonathan Casillas (hamstring) and defensive end Larry English (hamstring) back available after missing the last game.

"Our players that we need to get in a little better shape are there. We should be good," Smith said. …

Full Story

Winning on road no easy task for rookie QBs

Rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater will have his work cut out for him as soon as the Vikings' flight leaves Minneapolis for Sunday's game in Tampa.

Winning on the road in the NFL isn't easy for anyone, but for rookie quarterbacks, it's especially difficult. The 14 quarterbacks drafted in the first round over the last five years are a combined 20-51 on the road -- that same group of rookies went 38-35 at home, almost twice as likely to win there as on the road.

Along those lines, no rookie quarterbacks have won on the road this year -- Bridgewater and Jacksonville's Blake Bortles each have a home win, but are a combined 0-4 on the road.

Even the best rookie quarterbacks in recent years -- Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III in 2012, Cam Newton in 2011 -- got road wins despite poorer play. Griffin had five interceptions as a rookie, and four came on the road; Luck had 18 interceptions and 13 came on the road. Newton had 13 of his 21 passing touchdowns at home as a rookie. …

Full Story

Rookie Patton lands with Cardinals' practice squad

The first time the Bucs cut rookie return specialist Solomon Patton, they were able to sign him back to the practice squad and soon after, back to the 53-man roster, where he handled return duties for the team's first six games.

But when the former Gators star was cut by the Bucs this week, he was signed to the Arizona Cardinals' practice squad, according to agent Hadley Engelhard. The Bucs opted to go with Trindon Holliday, who has had four returns for touchdowns in the past three seasons, along with another two in a 2012 playoff game.

The Bucs currently have two more potential returners on their own practice squad -- Eric Page, who handled the team's kickoff and punt returns last season but lost out to Patton in the preseason, and Marcus Thigpen, who had two returns for touchdowns with the Dolphins in 2012.

As for Patton, his best chance to be promoted and help the Cardinals might be on kickoff returns, where the team is averaging just 16.3 yards, second-worst in the NFL. Veteran receiver Ted Ginn has been much better on punt returns, where the team ranks third in the NFL at 13.5 yards, thanks to a 71-yard touchdown.

Full Story

Orie Lemon signed from Kansas City Chiefs practice squad

The Bucs filled a need in the ailing linebacker corps Thursday, signing LB Orie Lemon to the active roster from the Chiefs’ practice squad.

The 6-foot-1, 235-pound Lemon starred at Oklahoma State before joining the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent in 2011. He played five games with Dallas in 2012 and has also spent time on practice squads in Dallas, Arizona and Kansas City.

Depth at linebacker is “absolutely” a concern for the Bucs, defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said before Lemon’s signing was announced. Mason Foster (shoulder) and Jonathan Casillas (hamstring) have been banged up this year, and coach Lovie Smith said Brandon Magee tweaked his knee during Wednesday’s practice.

“It’s been a revolving door at some of the positions,” Frazier said.

Full Story

Jackson flattered by trade talk, but wants to win with Bucs

Bucs receiver Vincent Jackson's name has come up as drawing interest from other NFL teams before next week's trade deadline, but the 31-year-old said Thursday he wants to help turn around his team in Tampa Bay.

"In this business, those kind of things get talked about quite often. Each and every year, there's going to be guys moved around to different teams," Jackson said. "I'm not surprised by it. Obviously I appreciate teams' interest, but I'm happy here in Tampa. I've heard nothing here that would suggest I'm going anywhere. I'm going to let that pass on and keep doing my job."

NFL Network's Ian Rapaport reported Sunday that the Bucs were getting "tons of calls" about Jackson, who hasn't been to the playoffs since doing so four years in a row with San Diego from 2006-09. Jackson has a team-high 25 catches for 344 yards and two touchdowns, but is also paid among the top 10 receivers in the league, with a base salary of $10 million and two years left on his contract. …

Full Story

Derrius Brooks leaves practice with leg injury

TAMPA – Bucs practice squad CB Derrius Brooks left Thursday’s practice with an apparent right leg injury.

Brooks injured himself during the 30-minute window of practice open to reporters. He didn’t put weight on his injured leg and had to be carted off the field. An update on his condition was not immediately available.

Brooks, a 5-foot-10, 192-pound player from Western Kentucky, signed with the Bucs last month after being released by the Saints.

WR Vincent Jackson appeared to be practicing normally.

Full Story

McCoy says Bucs defense has earned title of being 'soft'

Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy says the Bucs defense is soft. Worse yet, he says, it's on tape for all of the NFL to see.

"If you look out there on tape and you see a bunch of guys sitting on blocks, are you not earning the title of being soft?'' McCoy said Thursday. "I mean, guys get so sensitive around the league but we have to be men. This is a man's league. We're professionals and guys have issues with criticisims. I've been getting criticized since I've been in the NFL. I don't even feel it anymore. We have to accept what happened like I did last week.''

The Bucs (1-5) own the NFL's worst scoring and overall defense and despite coming off their bye week, are still reeling from their 48-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in which quarterback Joe Flacco threw five touchdown passes in the first 20 minutes of the game. Tampa Bay's defense has not sacked a quarterback in the last two games and has only nine sacks this season.

McCoy took the blame for a poor performance against the Ravens, saying he did not play like a Pro Bowl defensive tackle. On Thursday, he deflected criticism from coach Lovie Smith. …

Full Story

QBs Glennon, Bridgewater have faced off before

Two young quarterbacks will go head to head Sunday when Vikings rookie Teddy Bridgewater comes to Tampa to face the Bucs and second-year quarterback Mike Glennon, but it won't be the first time the two passers have met on the field.

Three years ago, the two played in the 2011 Belk Bowl in Charlotte, where Glennon threw for three touchdowns in the first half and N.C. State held off Louisville 31-24 in Bridgewater's freshman year. The Cardinals trailed 31-10 late in the third quarter, but Bridgewater rallied them back with two touchdowns, with a shot at a game-tying touchdown in the final minutes.

And if there's any Bucs player who won't take Bridgewater lightly as a young quarterback, it's safety Keith Tandy, who played against Bridgewater that same 2011 season when he was a senior at West Virginia. Louisville took down a ranked Mountaineers team in Morgantown with a 38-35 victory as Bridgewater went 21-for-27 for 246 yards and a touchdown. …

Full Story

McCoy says Bucs defense has earned title of being 'soft.'

Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy says the Bucs defense is soft. Worse yet, he says, it's on tape for all of the NFL to see.

"If you look out there on tape and you see a bunch of guys sitting on blocks, are you not earning the title of being soft?'' McCoy said Thursday. "I mean, guys get so sensitive around the league but we have to be men. This is a man's league. We're professionals and guys have issues with criticisims. I've been getting criticized since I've been in the NFL. I don't even feel it anymore. We have to accept what happened like I did last week.''

The Bucs (1-5) own the NFL's worst scoring and overall defense and despite coming off their bye week, are still reeling from their 48-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in which quarterback Joe Flacco threw five touchdown passes in the first 20 minutes of the game. Tampa Bay's defense has not sacked a quarterback in the last two games and has only nine sacks this season.

McCoy took the blame for a poor performance against the Ravens, saying he did not play like a Pro Bowl defensive tackle. On Thursday, he deflected criticism from coach Lovie Smith. …

Full Story

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." …

Full Story

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. '' …

Full Story

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.”

Full Story

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.

Full Story

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.

Full Story