The stories about Bucs coach Greg Schiano controlling everything from the menu to the thermostat in hotel meeting rooms on the road have made the rounds.
They're all true and Schiano makes no apology for being on the details.
"If you've ever been with a group of men in a meeting room, you know that if you put 70 guys in a room, the temperature goes up right away," Schiano told NFL.com. "That might make it harder to focus, if you're worried about trying not to suffocate. Those are the details most people don't tend to. I don't know if I put more on that than anyone else, but I make sure we're thorough. You can bitch about stuff when it doesn't go right. Or you can get out in front of it."
The Bucs say they were aware of Schiano's attention to detail, organizational skills and need for control. In fact, it's one of the main things that attacted them to the 11-year Rutgers head coach. …Full Story
Eric Stokes has been an NFL player, scout and front office executive, all with the Seattle Seahawks.
Now he is the Bucs director of college scouting, the team announced Wednesday.
Stokes essentially replaces Dennis Hickey, who was promoted last year to director of player personnel overseeing both pro and college scouting departments.
Stokes worked as the Seahawks' assistant director of college scouting (2010-11) and is credited with helping to add defensive standouts such as safety Earl Thomas (first-round, 2010), safety Kam Chancellor (fifth-round, 2010), linebacker K.J. Wright (fourth-round, 2011) and cornerback Richard Sherman (fifth-round, 2011). Stokes also worked as an area scout and assistant in the Seahawks pro personnel department.
Stokes was selected in the fifth round (121st overall) of the 1997 NFL Draft by the Seahawks. He was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the 1999 expansion draft before an injury cut his career short.
Want to talk about the Bucs' offseason workouts? The Kellen Winslow trade/Dallas Clark signing? The Rays' series against the White Sox? The expected callup of Hideki Matsui? The NHL or NBA playoffs? Whatever's on your mind, join Times sports columnist Gary Shelton for a live chat today, from 12:30-1:30 p.m. Can't make it? Leave a question in the "Comments'' area below, then check back afterward to replay the chat.
For as long as the Buccaneers have played in Tampa Bay, they've had to find a way to beat the heat.
Temperatures routinely hover in the mid-90's in August during training camp and September during the first month of the regular season. In fact, the average temperature in Oct. is 84 degrees, and with humidity, it can feel much, much warmer than that.
Some Bucs coaches have ignored it. Some have embraced it. Others have try to discover the best way to conquer it.
Coach Greg Schiano wants to use it as a weapon against opposing teams.
That's only part of the reason Schiano has his team operating at a heightened tempo in practice with no wasted moments or motion. One day a few weeks ago, he made players return to their positions on the field because he wasn't pleased how they sprinted to the sidelines for a water break.
"That has to become our advantage,'' Schiano said of the heat. "When you get teams out there in that stadium and it's really hot and you push the envelope, I think it becomes an advantage and that's something that is important to me.'' …Full Story
When the Bucs signed a handful of so-called “futures” free agents back in January, the transactions made very little news.
But every once in a while, those futures players – players who weren’t on an NFL roster at the end of the last regular season – can actually become factors.
Is this one of those times?
It’s too early to tell, but Bucs linebacker Rennie Curran could buck the trend if he keeps up whatever it is he’s doing. Curran, a 2010 third-round pick of the Titans, fell off the map in 2011 after he was released by Tennessee, spending the season on the sidelines with no team.
But during the two practices reporters have been permitted to observe in recent weeks, Curran has consistently been the first-team weak-side linebacker. His status as a starter, for the time being, has relegated rookie Lavonte David to the second team.
Will things remain this way?
That seems doubtful. The likely scenario here is that David eventually takes the reigns as the starting weak-side backer, assuming the remaining positions stay the way they are (with Mason Foster in the middle and Quincy Black on the strong-side). …Full Story
In case you wondered what quarterback Josh Freeman is working on in the off-season, it's his decision-making, ball security and accuracy.
After throwing 22 interceptions and only 16 touchdowns in 2011, Freeman has to learn when to throw the ball away or simply eat it, according to new offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan.
"When an incompletion is not only OK, but it's a good thing," Sullivan said of what the Bucs were working on with Freeman during an interview Friday on SiriusXM Sports radio. "When a sack is not only OK, it's a good thing. It's all about protecting the football and making those smart decisions.
"I think with the quarterback position, regardless of the system, regardless of style of play, it really comes down to those three key variables: leadership, decision-making and accuracy," Sullivan said.
Freeman had a career-high 62.8 completion percentage last year. In 2010, he threw 25 touchdowns and six interceptions. …Full Story
Heinz 57 is spicing up Josh Freeman’s football Procamp June 9-10 at Wesley Chapel High School with $57 registrations.
The camp, which is open to boys and girls ages 7-14, is $99 for a standard registration. But Heinz 57 is offering 57 spots at the discounted $57 registration fee for a limited time. The special rate is on a first-come-first-serve basis beginning Friday, May 25, at noon.
Standard registration is available. For information, contact JoshFreemanCamp.com.
Former Bucs tight end Kellen Winslow, traded to Seattle on Monday, called the Seahawks "a perfect fit'' during an interview on ESPN'S NFL32.
“It’s been great,” Winslow said. “It’s a perfect fit. Coach Carroll is upbeat, he’s energetic, so it’s going to be perfect. I’m looking forward to working with the whole team, Matt Flynn, Zach Miller, just being a piece of the puzzle.”
Asked why things didn't work in Tampa Bay, Winslow said he suspects new Bucs coach Greg Schiano didn't like him working out apart from the team.
"I guess they didn’t feel comfortable with me not being there,'' Winslow said, "but it worked out for the best for both sides.”
Read more from ProFootballTalk.com's story here.Full Story
You already know about quarterback Josh Freeman’s weight loss, as he’s shed about 20 pounds and looks fitter than ever.
But Freeman might not be the only player who is in better physical shape when the Bucs take the field for training camp.
On conditioning days throughout the offseason, the team’s new strength and conditioning staff has embarked on a major effort to reshape players’ bodies.
According to general manager Mark Dominik, strength coach Jay Butler and assistant Joe Vaughn have employed some effective techniques while also doing things like setting weight targets for players to achieve during offseason workouts.
Will it have an effect during the regular season? That remains to be seen, but it certainly can’t hurt.
“Jay Butler has done a good job of setting goal weights for this football team and establishing what (weight) he wants guys to play at,” Dominik said. “That’s a big deal for Coach (Schiano) also. So, they’re certainly working at it. They have to put the time in to do that, but they are.” …Full Story
Though it wasn't posted here, we mentioned in today's newspaper that receiver Preston Parker earlier this month received a contract extension that takes him through the end of the 2013 season.
Previously, Parker was under contract only for 2012 after signing his exclusive-rights free agent tender.
We're happy for Parker, who now is scheduled to earn $1 million in 2013 (up from his unchanged $540,000 this fall). But it's reasonable to ask why, exactly, the Bucs decided to do this?
It's an odd move, to some extent. Parker has no negotiating rights after just two years of NFL experience. He would have become a restricted free agent next season, but the Bucs would still have had the ability to keep him for very little. Teams usually see no need to address the contracts of such players.
So, again, what prompted the Bucs to do this? We can now shed a bit more light on this. It turns out Parker and his agent approached the Bucs about this, and the team agreed to go through with it.
Is this something of an endorsement of Parker, who ranked second among receivers in 2011 with 40 catches? Perhaps. It certainly isn't an indictment, that's for sure. …Full Story
Much has been made of Bucs players who haven’t attended offseason workouts, with absences often leading to suggestions that they’re not sufficiently committed to the team.
But there’s a fundamental problem with this way of thinking: It’s not necessarily true.
Take, for instance, the situation with defensive tackle Brian Price last week. When the media was permitted to watch Tuesday’s workout and subsequently reported that he was not there, there were some assumptions among fans that he was slacking off. We now know that nothing could have been further from the truth; he was in the hospital after an emotional and physical breakdown related to the death of his older sister.
It’s fair ground to report who is and isn’t there on days media are allowed to view practice. I personally have done this. But drawing conclusions is reckless.
Here’s the thing: It’s voluntary. Everything in the offseason is except for the three-day mandatory minicamp that caps offseason work next month. Players can’t be penalized for not showing up, nor should they be. …Full Story
Dallas Clark suggested today that he had opportunities to sign elsewhere before agreeing to terms with the Bucs. So, why did he opt to come to Tampa Bay?
One reason, perhaps, was Dan Orlovsky. No, really.
The Bucs backup quarterback, Orlovsky was a teammate of Clark's in Indianapolis last season, and Clark got a bit of a sales pitch from Orlovsky before signing his contract.
"I called him and gave him my piece on how things are down here," Orlovsky said. "I gave it my best sales job, but it probably wasn’t much of a difference."
What Orlovsky really wanted to talk about was what Clark adds to the Bucs' offense -- both on and off the field.
"It’s great to have him," Orlovsky said. "His career speaks for itself in what he’s accomplished. He’s going to add great veteran leadership. He’s played in a lot of big, big games. For a young team, that’s going to be good to have around. I think the biggest thing guys will be able to get from him is watching him work every day and do his job and go about business the right way. You don’t play nine years in this league and have the success that he has by not working at your craft and getting it right.
"I think it’s a great addition for us."Full Story
Dallas Clark knew the question was coming and made no attempt to duck it. After the former Colts star signed with the Bucs on Monday, there was no bigger question about his ability to contribute than his health, something that has been under much scrutiny since his release earlier this year.
Clark has missed 15 games in the past two seasons with an assortment of injuries, raising questions about whether his career might be over.
Clark scoffed at the notion.
“Details matter, because when (reporters) don’t have details, you make things up like I’m done playing,” said Clark, a former All-Pro tight end. “No one asked me if I was done playing, and I’m not done playing.”
Clark, 32, suggested he’ll be motivated given the doubts about his abilities. Given that the Bucs released Kellen Winslow and signed Clark as a replacement, it seems they have significant confidence in him.
“Every day you’re proving yourself,” he said. “The second you stop, you’re out that door. You learn that Day 1. You’re always proving yourself. . . You don’t have time to take this week off. You bring your A game every day. …Full Story