After announcing Jameis Winston was his starting quarterback on Friday, Bucs coach Lovie Smith was asked if any other rookies would be opening training camp as starters. His answer: "We have a plan for all of them."
For rookie offensive linemen Donovan Smith and Ali Marpet, both drafted in the second round, that plan starts with them not working with the first-team line, as the Bucs showed in their first practice Saturday night, moved by heavy rains to USF's practice fields. The Bucs opened camp with Kevin Pamphile working as the starting left tackle and Garrett Gilkey at right guard, while Smith and Marpet working with the second line. Those battles will continue for the next six weeks until the Bucs open their season against the Titans, if not longer.
Saturday was "not ideal conditions to start off training camp," Lovie Smith said Saturday night. The Bucs were scheduled to practice at One Buc Place to stands full of fans at 2:30 -- that was postponed to 5 p.m. and then canceled, with the team getting in a 90-minute practice closed to the public on the turf practice field at USF, much of it through heavy rain. …Full Story
While rookie quarterback Jameis Winston downplayed the importance of being named the Bucs' starting quarterback on the eve of training camp, the No. 1 overall pick said he's obviously excited about the opportunity in front of him.
"I'm not perfect," Winston said, "but I will compete my butt off."
Winston, the former Florida State star, earned the starting job over Mike Glennon. Winston's public debut was delayed until Sunday after Saturday's open practice was canceled because of storms.
Winston said his rookie training camp is much different than what he experienced at FSU, when he redshirted his first year and battled Jacob Coker for the starting job during fall camp.
"I've matured since I was an 18-year-old kid, just getting into mischievous things," Winston said. "Now you know, I love this opportunity that I've been given. It's a blessing. The best thing about it is, my dream was to always be a professional quarterback. I've achieved that dream."
The clock is ticking a little louder for Gerald McCoy, who is in the prime of his career. The Bucs defensive tackle has been to three straight Pro Bowls, enjoyed one winning season but has had no playoff appearances during his five years in the NFL.
That's why McCoy said Saturday he feels the urgency to end the team's post-season drought. Tampa Bay's last playoff appearance was 2007.
"When I was young, I was allowed to be young...I'm not there anymore,'' said McCoy, 27. "I'm going into my sixth year and I truly believe this team will only go as far as I go. When you have a dominant guy in the middle, it helps everything out around him, which is our defense. You have a great defense, most of these teams that are winning, usually have a great defense. That's another reason why I had to come in in great shape because there's really no more talking that has to be done. I'm going into my sixth year and haven't been in the playoffs. It's like enough is enough. I definitely feel the urgency and it's time to get it done.'' …Full Story
UPDATE, 4:15: The Bucs will have to wait a day to open training camp.
Storms and record-setting rain forced the team to cancel Saturday's first day of practice. The Bucs have another open practice scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Sunday.
UPDATE, 2:30: Today's Bucs training camp is now scheduled to start at 5 p.m. Gates will open for fans at 4:30. That's assuming the rain and storms subside between now and then.
DEVELOPING: Jameis Winston's training camp debut is on hold.
The Bucs have delayed the start of the first day of training camp because of storms. The opening practice was scheduled to start at 2:30. The team has not yet announced when - or if - today's practice will begin.
For what it's worth, I saw quite a bit of lightning on my drive to One Buc Place, which isn't a good sign.
BRENDAN FITTERER | Times
The Bucs placed wide receiver Louis Murphy on the non-football injury list with an ankle injury.
The Bucs will open training camp with two top reserves sidelined by injuries, with defensive tackle Akeem Spence out with a back injury and receiver Louis Murphy out with an ankle injury.
Officially, the Bucs placed Spence on the physically unable to perform list, while Murphy is on the non-football injury list. Both still count toward the team's 90-player roster limit and can be moved to the active roster whenever they're deemed healthy.
Bucs coach Lovie Smith called the injury to Murphy -- the former Lakewood and Gators star who is battling to be the Bucs' No. 3 receiver -- a "freak accident," and did not elaborate on a timetable for either players' healthy return to practice. Spence's injury helps explain why the Bucs opted to re-sign defensive lineman Da'Quan Bowers this week after he had gone unsigned as a free agent for four months. …Full Story
GREG AUMAN | Times
Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy arrives for training camp.
On both sides of the ball, there's already a healthy respect for Bucs rookie Jameis Winston and the work ethic he's shown in a first impression to teammates during OTAs and mandatory minicamp. Just the same, the Bucs defense is eager to test Winston in training camp, knowing it will better prepare him for the physical challenges he'll face during the regular season.
"He's going to be tested during this camp," said defensive end George Johnson, acquired from the Lions this spring and likely a first-year starter. "We feel like we're going to be the best team to give him the test. When we actually give him our all, he's going to get better, and then when he gets into games, he'll be like 'I've seen this before. Our guys play a lot tougher than this,' and he's going to play good."
General manager Jason Licht said this week that Winston has done a good job of working to earn respect from his teammates, establishing himself in practice and meetings by conducting himself like a regular player. Veteran teammates have seen this and noticed, though their goal in camp will be to challenge him as much as possible to help his transition from college to being an NFL starter. …Full Story
[SCOTT KEELER | Times]
Tampa Bay Buccaneer wide receiver Mike Evans talks to reporters at One Buc Place as he reported to training camp
Without much fanfare, some arriving as the sun was rising, Bucs players reported for the start of training camp at One Buc Place on Friday morning, optimistic about improving on a disappointing 2-14 record last season.
A year ago, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy was jovial, doing interviews in a bathrobe, but Friday, he barely spoke a word as he reported for camp. Same for rookie quarterback Jameis Winston, who like McCoy will address the media after Saturday afternoon's first practice.
There was little doubt of perfect attendance, but two players hopeful of signing new extensions were also reporting as promised, with tackle Demar Dotson and linebacker Lavonte David filing in with the rest of their teammates.
"I've got high expectations. I want to be one of the best receivers in the game," said second-year receiver Mike Evans, who said he's lighter and expects to be faster, at under 230 pounds. "I'm excited to be back, excited to get the team started. Last year, I think we were the best 2-14 team ever. Our defense is going to be flying around like usual, and our offense will be much better." …Full Story
Three of Lovie Smith's former players will join the Bucs coaching staff for training camp, including another former Bucs linebacker in Alshermond Singleton, who is part of the Bill Walsh Minority Coaching Fellowship.
Singleton, 39, who played for the Bucs from 1997-2002 and was on Tampa Bay's Super Bowl championship squad, played linebacker under Smith as a Bucs assistant from 1997-2000. The Bucs already have two former linebackers on staff in linebackers coach Hardy Nickerson and director of football operations Shelton Quarles.
Two former Bears players will also be helping during training camp -- ex-receiver Johnny Knox, 28, who caught 12 touchdowns for the Bears from 2009-11, is also a Walsh fellow, and former Bears defensive end Mark Anderson, 32, who had 12 sacks as a rookie on Smith's Super Bowl team in 2006, will be on the staff as a Wooten-Nunn Scouting Fellow internship.
Former Bucs defensive back Donnie Abraham, who started 78 games for Tampa Bay from 1996-2001, was also working with the Bucs coaching staff during OTA workouts this summer.Full Story
Two days before veterans report for the start of training camp, the Bucs have tweaked the bottom of their roster, signing three young defensive backs and waiving two undrafted rookies.
Gone are former Texas A&M cornerback Deshazor Everett and former Minnesota safety Derrick Wells, replaced by former Bowling Green cornerback Jude Adjei-Barimah, former South Carolina State safety Kimario McFadden and former West Chester corner Al-Hajj Shabazz.
Of the three, only McFadden has a history with the Bucs, having been briefly on the team's practice squad last season. Adjei-Barimah -- born in Italy, parents both born in Ghana, only moved to the U.S. when he was 10 -- had 82 tackles as a senior last season, while Shabazz -- the biggest of the three at 6-foot-2 -- had signed with the Colts after the draft, only to be recently cut. …Full Story
Adding depth before the start of training camp, the Bucs on Wednesday will sign cornerback Jude Adjei-Barimah, an undrafted rookie from Bowling Green.
Adjei-Barimah, 5-foot-11 and 200 pounds, had 82 tackles as a senior in 2014, including four tackles for loss. He went to rookie minicamp with the Jaguars as a tryout player, but was not signed.
His signing will bring the Bucs back to a maximum 90 players for the start of training camp Saturday, replacing C.J. Wilson, who was placed on the reserve-retired list last week after losing two fingers in a fireworks accident July 4.
The Bucs have only one other rookie cornerback on roster in Texas A&M's Deshazor Everett, and only one other rookie defensive back in safety Chris Hackett.Full Story
Da'Quan Bowers played primarily at defensive end in his four seasons with the Bucs, but general manager Jason Licht said Tuesday that the former second-round pick, re-signed Monday, will get a look as a defensive tackle.
The Bucs have four established veterans there in Gerald McCoy, Henry Melton, Clinton McDonald and Akeem Spence, so for Bowers to make the team, he'd likely need to convince the Bucs they need to carry a fifth defensive tackle. Bowers played some inside at "three technique" last season, especially in nickel situations.
The three games in which Bowers saw his most snaps were games in which McCoy was either inactive or limited by his broken hand; of Bowers' 21 tackles in 2014, 14 came in four games where McCoy was either sidelined or playing with his hand in a cast. …Full Story
The Bucs are prepared for their 2015 season to be wild and unpredictable – a little like the right arm of rookie quarterback Jameis Winston.
But according to general manager Jason Licht, who hopes Winston’s mistakes will be kept to a minimum, the No. 1 pick in the draft has energized the entire organization.
“I think if you look at the history of all rookie quarterbacks, most of them, a high percentage of them, throw a lot of interceptions,’’ Licht said Tuesday. “I’d be remiss to not say we’re not expecting some ups and downs but we’re doing everything we can to minimize them as much as possible.''
Winston and the other Bucs rookies reported to training camp Monday. The full-squad will arrive Friday and the first practice is Saturday morning.
Licht said defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is the face of the franchise and Winston respects it. However, he said Winston has added a ‘spark,’ to the team and veteran players are excited about his arrival.
“We had a lot of players coming up to (coach) Lovie (Smith) and myself giving us their opinion on who they wanted and it was pretty overwhelming (Winston),’’ Licht said. "It’s always good when they’re excited about it. …Full Story
JAMES BORCHUCK | Times
Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston reacts after missing a spare during a bowling tournament between the Buccaneers rookies and Tampa Fire Rescue rookies at Pin Chasers in Tampa Tuesday.
Bucs veterans report for the start of training camp on Friday, but 21 rookies are already in town, reporting Monday for a busy week of meetings and getting acclimated for their first practice Saturday afternoon.
That included a bonding trip to Pin Chasers in Tampa on Tuesday morning for some friendly bowling competition with the rookies from Tampa Fire and Rescue, but the Bucs players said they have long days this week preparing for the grind of training camp this weekend.
"We're gearing up, and when the vets get here Friday night, it's going to be heavy," said rookie receiver Kenny Bell. "It's off to the races. There's no ... I don't want to call it babying. We're in meetings, up at One Buc from 6:30 in the morning to 10 o'clock at night, so if you want to get your own study time in, which you have to, it's going to take a lot of extra work. The great thing is we have a ton of guys willing to put in that work." …Full Story
DIRK SHADD | Times
In four seasons with the Bucs, Da'Quan Bowers played in 50 games, including 10 starts, and recording a disappointing seven career sacks.
Da'Quan Bowers will get at least one more chance to show the Bucs -- and the NFL -- he is worth another look.
The Bucs re-signed Bowers, who hadn't garnered much attention as a free agent, to a one-year contract Monday, four days before players report to training camp. The deal includes no signing bonus or guaranteed money.
A second-round pick by the Bucs in 2011 after leading the nation in sacks at Clemson, Bowers hasn't lived up to lofty pre-draft expectations. In four seasons with the Bucs, he played in 50 games, including 10 starts, and recording a disappointing seven career sacks.
For that, Bowers was paid $3.885-million.
The Bucs are hoping Bowers will provide some depth to a defensive line that lacks a proven edge rusher. Bowers has shown some versatility with his ability to play inside at defensive tackle on passing downs.
Last season, Bowers played in 11 games and finished with 21 tackles and 1.5 sacks. …Full Story
EVE EDELHEIT | Times
Whether it’s the addition of No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston or something else, there appears to be a growing demand for Bucs tickets.
Whether it’s the addition of No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston or something else, there appears to be a growing demand for Bucs tickets.
This time last year, the Bucs’ secondary tickets had a median price of $104, according to Vivid Seats, a secondary ticket marketplace. The average price was 27th in the league.
This year? The median ticket is selling for $154 on the secondary market – 18th in the league.
Seattle has the league’s highest median price ($412), according to Vivid Seats.Full Story