Wednesday, September 19, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs-Jaguars: Playbook isn’t an issue for Ronald Jones, coach Dirk Koetter says

TAMPA — Receiver Bobo Wilson gained 21 yards on a run Thursday night, nearly as many as Ronald Jones, the running back the Bucs drafted with the 38th overall pick, gained during the entire preseason.

In Tampa Bay's 25-10 loss to Jacksonville, Jones gained 4 yards on 10 carries, bringing his preseason total to 22 yards on 28 carries. He wasn't solely to blame for the meager output Thursday. He often had to fight off tackles at or behind the line of scrimmage, twice losing 5 yards. Undrafted rookie Shaun Wilson gained 71 yards on 15 carries this preseason.

Coach Dirk Koetter said that while he's concerned about Jones' slow start, the lack of production isn't the result of a lack of effort.

"When we have bad running plays, rarely is it one guy's fault," he said. "I know from Ronald's standpoint, it's not at all from lack of effort or from him not knowing what he's doing. I know there's been a little undercurrent out there about him not knowing the playbook, and I want to make sure I'm real clear on that. That is not an issue."

Pete Prisco of CBS Sports reported last week that Jones was struggling to pick up the offense.

"It's been a slow process for him," Prisco said. "With these young backs, sometimes it takes them a little time to feel comfortable, to put your foot in the ground and go."

RELATED: More Bucs coverage

Spence starts

If things had worked as the Bucs hoped when they picked defensive end Noah Spence in the second round of the 2016 draft, he wouldn't have been in uniform Thursday. But Spence played throughout the game while Will Clarke, who signed with the team just before the start of last season, had the night off. In three seasons, Spence has played in 22 games, had four shoulder dislocations and two surgeries.

Spence said he knew he was going to play most of the game.

"I've been itching for it," he said. "It felt great to just be out there running around with the guys, making calls, making tackles and everything like that."

Is he on the roster bubble?

"The best thing you can do is grind every day, work hard and give all praise to God," he said. "Nothing else you can do."

Receivers fight to the finish

Rookie Justin Watson further solidified his case for a roster spot Thursday, catching a 2-yard touchdown in the second quarter to cap an 83-yard drive. Assuming the fifth-round draft pick survives the Sept. 1 roster cutdown from 90 players to 53, that leaves three receivers fighting for one spot. Bernard Reedy caught all five of his targets for 85 yards, Bobo Wilson caught five passes for 51 yards and Freddie Martino was targeted once but did not make a catch.

"They all have different strengths," said quarterback Ryan Griffin, who completed 17 of 27 passes for 151 yards. "Reedy is really quick, you want to try and get him in space so he can make people miss. Freddie is really good at the top of routes getting open. Then J-Wat is a big, strong, physical guy. You can see that with his routes, getting people off of him against man (defense)."

Kickoff returns are up

Count on seeing an uptick in scoring this season.

Not because you'll see more passing or rushing touchdowns, but because you'll see more kickoff returns.

In May, the NFL approved changes to its kickoff rules, which include prohibiting players on the kicking team from getting a running start before the kickoff. The league pitched the changes as a way to reduce collisions, but what we've seen this preseason is an increase in the number of returns.

Entering Thursday, teams were averaging 2.8 returns per game. They averaged 2.4 during last preseason and about two per game during the regular season.

The Bucs returned 17 kickoffs this preseason, including five Thursday, for an average of 24 yards. They had four returns of at least 30 yards (three by Shaun Wilson and one by Bobo Wilson).

Old-school new uniforms

The Jaguars offense might not be all that exciting, but at least it'll be a little easier on our eyes this season. They've overhauled their uniforms and while they're a bit basic, they're a vast improvement over the costumes they had been wearing, mainly because they ditched the black-to-gold gradient helmet for a solid black one.

If only the Bucs could do something about the digital number font on their jerseys …

We'll have to wait until at least 2019. NFL rules stipulate teams can't change their uniforms more than once every five seasons, and the Bucs introduced their current set in 2014.

Bucs release Sims

The Bucs waived running back Charles Sims after reaching an injury settlement. Sims suffered a knee injury during the opening kickoff of the game against the Titans two weeks ago. A third-round draft pick in 2014, he gained more than 2,000 yards from scrimmage and scored eight touchdowns in four seasons for Tampa Bay.

Miscellaneous

The Bucs had a halftime lead during each game this preseason, surpassing their total from last season (three). … The Bucs and Jaguars held a moment of silence before the game to honor those affected by the shooting Sunday at a Madden video game tournament in Jacksonville.

Contact Thomas Bassinger at [email protected] Follow @tometrics

Comments
Bucs’ Ryan Fitzpatrick is NFC’s Offensive Player of the Week. Again.

Bucs’ Ryan Fitzpatrick is NFC’s Offensive Player of the Week. Again.

It's Ryan Fitzpatrick's world, and the NFL is just living in it.For the second straight week, the Bucs quarterback was named the NFC's Offensive Player of the Week.Fitzpatrick becomes the first Bucs player to ever to win that award in back-to-back we...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Derrick Brooks among Hall of Famers backing away from letter demanding benefits

Derrick Brooks among Hall of Famers backing away from letter demanding benefits

Add Bucs linebacker Derrick Brooks to the list of players who have publicly disavowed specific demands and threats in a letter published Tuesday listing 21 NFL greats demanding health insurance and pension for all members.The letter threatens a boyco...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Bucs’ Jameis Winston sued by Arizona Uber driver in alleged groping incident

Bucs’ Jameis Winston sued by Arizona Uber driver in alleged groping incident

  TAMPA — Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston was sued Tuesday by the Arizona Uber driver who has accused him of sexual assault by groping her in March 2016. The woman — identified only as Kate P. in the federal court papers — is seek...
Published: 09/18/18
Updated: 09/19/18
Bucs announce social justice initiative

Bucs announce social justice initiative

TAMPA — Bucs receiver DeSean Jackson stepped out of his cleats and walked in the shoes of a Tampa police officer during a simulation training session Tuesday that was eye-opening."I was a police officer doing a regular (traffic) stop and I got ...
Published: 09/18/18
Lightning’s Alex Killion on his FitzMagic look: ‘None of us’ has his flair

Lightning’s Alex Killion on his FitzMagic look: ‘None of us’ has his flair

TAMPA — How big is FitzMagic? It has hit the Lightning, too.Proving that Harvard guys stick together, Lightning forward Alex Killorn showed support for fellow Harvard grad Ryan Fitzpatrick by, sort of, dressing up the way Fitzpatrick did follow...
Published: 09/18/18
Dolphins’ Minkah Fitzpatrick files trademark application for ‘FitzMagic’

Dolphins’ Minkah Fitzpatrick files trademark application for ‘FitzMagic’

Enjoy "FitzMagic" while you can.Not because Ryan Fitzpatrick's days as the Bucs starting quarterback might be numbered once Jameis Winston returns from his three-game suspension.Rather, because Dolphins defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick might soon ha...
Published: 09/18/18
Say hello to Major Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bucs QB and Civil War pen pal

Say hello to Major Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bucs QB and Civil War pen pal

You’ve probably heard about the #FitzMagic phenomenon by now, but are you following Major Ryan Fitzpatrick’s dispatches from the front lines of the NFL circa 1862? Months before the Tampa Bay Buccaneers backup-turned-temporary (but also ...
Published: 09/18/18
What do the Lightning’s Alex Killorn and Jimmy Fallon have in common?

What do the Lightning’s Alex Killorn and Jimmy Fallon have in common?

What do Lightning forward Alex Killorn and late-night talk show host Jimmy Fallon have in common?Both have become smitten with FitzMagic.Killorn wore black sunglasses, a No. 14 jersey and a chain around his neck today while addressing the media in ho...
Published: 09/18/18
Derrick Brooks among Hall of Famers threatening to boycott induction ceremonies

Derrick Brooks among Hall of Famers threatening to boycott induction ceremonies

Former Bucs linebacker Derrick Brooks is among several Pro Football Hall of Famers who signed a letter today saying they would not attend the Hall's annual induction ceremony until they receive health insurance and an annual salary that includes...
Published: 09/18/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: What happens when Jameis Winston returns?

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: What happens when Jameis Winston returns?

Who should start at quarterback for the Bucs in Week 4, when Jameis Winston returns from his three-game suspension?Head coach Dirk Koetter won't talk about it, while DeSean Jackson says, "you can't take the hot man out." But what might most impact th...
Published: 09/18/18