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." …Full Story
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. …Full Story
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? …Full Story
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. …Full Story
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. …Full Story
DANIEL WALLACE | Times
Entering his fourth season, Da'Quan Bowers has only 5.5 career sacks and faces an uphill battle to make the final roster.
The last weekend before the start of training camp can create some anxious moments for NFL coaches and executives as players enjoy their final freedom before the grind of the season. Things can get out of hand.
As Da'Quan Bowers tweeted Sunday morning, "What a crazy night...''
Bowers, the Bucs defensive end, flew former Destiny's Child singer Farrah Franklin to Myrtle Beach to spend the weekend with him and Texans linebacker Ricky Sapp, a teammate of Bowers' at Clemson.
According to TMZ, which broke the story, the alcohol must have been flowing as they were out on the town Saturday afternoon and evening. They wound up back at Sapp's place and both players suspected Franklin was doing drugs. Bowers told police he was suspicious of Franklin because she would go to the bathroom for extended periods of time.
When Franklin started acting irrationally, screaming and slamming doors, Bowers and Sapp called police. Franklin fled but police found her laying down in a neighbor's lawn. Police described Franklin as 'highly intoxicated,' and 'unsteady on her feet.' Having left Bowers and Sapp, she told police she had nowhere to go and planned on sleeping in the woods. …Full Story
DANIEL WALLACE | Times
Austin Seferian-Jenkins said his left foot is in good shape as he recovers from February surgery for a stress fracture.
TAMPA -- Bucs players report for preseason camp in just two weeks, and rookie tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins said his left foot is in good shape as he recovers from February surgery for a stress fracture.
"I feel really good. My foot feels really good," Seferian-Jenkins said Wednesday from Arizona, where he's been training. "I've been running routes, doing all the exercise and workout drills that they've asked me to do. I feel very comfortable and confident that I'll be ready to go when it comes to training camp."
Seferian-Jenkins has been working in Phoenix with Team EXOS, an international sport performance company whose clients range from 64 2014 NFL draft picks (11 first-rounders) to the German soccer team. They also have worked with Bucs rookies Charles Sims and Robert Herron this offseason. …Full Story
DANIEL WALLACE | Times
Butch Davis, left, spent the past two seasons as a special assistant to Greg Schiano, right, on the Bucs' coaching staff.
Former college and NFL coach Butch Davis, who spent the past two seasons as a special assistant to Greg Schiano on the Bucs' coaching staff, said Tuesday he will be working for ESPN this fall as a college football studio analyst.
Davis, 62, said he will be on camera for 16 Saturdays in Bristol this fall, working for ESPN, ESPN2 and other platforms, from the morning pregame shows until kickoff of the network's prime-time game. He'll stay in Bristol to work eight Sunday mornings as well, wrapping up the weekend's college football and looking ahead to the NFL games as well.
Davis, who has worked previously with the NFL Network, said he'll also be part of ESPN's "bus tour" roundup of college visits in August leading up to college football season. He may also work some in studio during some Thursday night college football games and bowl games as well.
Davis has been head coach at the University of Miami, with the Cleveland Browns and the University of North Carolina, where he was fired in 2011 after the program was involved in an academic scandal. He joined Schiano's staff in February 2012 but was not retained with the rest of Schiano's staff after the team went 4-12 in 2013. Full Story
TAMPA -- The Bucs hope to make 2014 very different from 2013 in many ways, but one interesting change looks to be a smaller, faster front seven on defense.
Speed on defense is a Lovie Smith trademark, and depth-chart analysis by Philly.com had the Bucs with the second-lightest front seven in the NFL -- actually the lightest if you correctly move defensive tackle Clinton McDonald into the starting lineup.
Whether that correlates to success on the field remains to be seen, but the Super Bowl champion Seahawks have the sixth-lightest front seven in those same rankings, with the Colts and 49ers also in the league's eight lightest.
While the Bucs have 13 offensive linemen listed at 300 pounds or more, there is just one defensive player on roster weighing more than 300 -- second-year defensive tackle Akeem Spence, who is just 307. Compare that to the Ravens, who have three defensive tackles over 335, or the Jets, who have three over 345. …Full Story
After Wednesday's news that Saints star Jimmy Graham would get the franchise designation as a tight end and not a receiver, with his own identification on his Twitter bio factoring in an arbitrator's ruling, other NFL tight ends are careful how they're listing themselves online.
Somewhere between savvy and silly, Browns tight end Jordan Cameron decided to call himself a "Pro Bowl pass catcher" -- nothing inaccurate there, of course -- and we pointed out that Bucs rookie Austin Seferian-Jenkins and veterans Luke Stocker and Brandon Myers were still proudly calling themselves tight ends on their Twitter bios.
Seferian-Jenkins, reading that, changed his bio to identify himself as "WR for the Tampa Bay Bucs!" and responded to our tweet with a playful "updated lol." …Full Story
TAMPA -- Mike Evans now has just three weeks until the Bucs report for preseason training camp, even less until rookies are due back in town, but the first-round pick from Texas A&M is hard at work at getting himself in shape for the 2014 season.
"Physically, I'm not in tip-top shape. I'm getting back into my game shape," said Evans, who is training in Miami with a group of players that includes Bears receiver Brandon Marshall. "As far as injury-wise, I feel good. I've been running, and I feel 100 percent."
Evans missed much of his first month of practice with the Bucs with a hamstring injury suffered on the first day of voluntary minicamp on May 20. He was able to return in a limited capacity for the team's mandatory minicamp last month, and he expects to be fine when camp starts July 25 at One Buc Place.
Evans is training for two weeks in Miami at Fit Speed Athletic Performance, and he said his focus is dropping "7 to 10 pounds" with a goal of playing at about 230 pounds this fall. He was measured at 231 pounds at the NFL combine after playing at about 235 at Texas A&M. …Full Story
Fox Sports -- which is scheduled to televise 13 of the Bucs' 16 games in 2014 -- has opened its countdown of all 32 NFL teams by introducing ... the Bucs in dead last at No. 32.
Here's a seven-minute video of Fox analysts discussing the team's prospects -- it doesn't line up much with the preseason pick, with optimism about Lovie Smith bringing a new attitude to the team and praise for new additions Josh McCown, Michael Johnson and Alterraun Verner. There's little explanation for picking the Bucs to take a step backward, other than mentioning the uncertainty the offensive line has at guard.
The video has good insights -- former Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher talks about playing for Smith, and how the Bucs are likely to use defensive tackle Gerald McCoy as a catalyst in the new defense. If the Bucs don't show any improvement from their 4-12 record in 2013, or even take a step backward, then you can give Fox Sports credit for anticipating that ... Full Story
TAMPA -- The Bucs have been so active this offseason that now exactly half the 88 players on roster -- 25 veterans and 19 rookies -- have signed with the team since the hiring of Lovie Smith in January. With half the locker room comprised by newcomers, the battles for the final spots on the 53-man roster will be wide-open in August, a sign of the improved depth at most positions from a year ago.
Here are five position battles to keep an eye on, with less than a month before the Bucs open preseason camp July 25.
BACKUP RB: Lovie Smith carried only four total running backs each of his last three years with the Bears, and the Bucs have strong depth here, with starter Doug Martin and rookie Charles Sims as perhaps the only locks to make the roster. Bobby Rainey and Mike James, who each topped 150 yards in games after Martin's injury last year, are battling with speedy Jeff Demps -- even without carrying a fullback, one of those three could miss the cut. Helping on special teams, especially on returns, could convince coaches to carry a fifth back on the 53. …Full Story
LAKE BUENA VISTA -- Darrelle Revis can smile and laugh about it now.
With a new future in New England, buoyed by a healthy offseason, the former Bucs cornerback looked back Thursday on his lone season in Tampa, appreciative of a team that embraced him and disappointed he couldn't have found success there.
"Every coach has their own philosophy and coaching style. It could work, it could not work. It didn't and we went 4-12," Revis said of former coach Greg Schiano. "The result is 4-12. That's what you get. It's already spoken what happened. A lot of us got fired."
Revis, who turns 29 next month, is back in Florida this week as a guest instructor at the Drew Brees Passing Academy at ESPN's Wide World of Sports complex at Disney. Cut by the Bucs in March, he signed a new deal with the Patriots, where he's eager to try to get Tom Brady and Bill Belichick their first Super Bowl win in 10 years.
Asked what he'll miss about his time in Tampa, Revis quickly answered "the weather," but added that he also built friendships that remain with his Bucs teammates, players he still stays in touch with now. …Full Story
The Bucs have their entire six-player 2014 draft class under contract, with second-round pick Austin Seferian-Jenkins officially announced as signing his rookie deal on Thursday.
Seferian-Jenkins, a tight end from Washington, had agreed to terms on his contract last week, but wasn't in Tampa so he had to mail the signed contract to Tampa. Because Washington's school calendar operates on the quarters system, Seferian-Jenkins hasn't been allowed to practice with the Bucs except for a three-day rookie minicamp due to an NFL policy designed to keep players in school their final spring.
The Bucs also formally announced the signing of former Baylor and Panthers receiver David Gettis, who was with the team for its three-day mandatory minicamp as a tryout player last week. He's the second tryout player to sign from that group, following former Cardinals defensive end Ronald Talley.Full Story