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Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs get down to 53-man roster limit

From the team: 

BUCCANEERS GET UNDER 53-MAN ROSTER LIMIT

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced today that they have made the following roster moves:

RELEASED

DT Frank Okam

DT Amobi Okoye (injury settlement)

WAIVED

S Larry Asante

S Sean Baker

WR Landon Cox

LB Rennie Curran

LB Jacob Cutrera

TE Drake Dunsmore

K Kai Forbath

T Jermarcus Hardrick

RB Robert Hughes

FB Cody Johnson

RB Mossis Madu

DT Jordan Nix

C Moe Petrus

TE Zack Pianalto

QB Brett Ratliff

CB James Rogers

WR Jordan Shipley

WR Tiquan Underwood

DT Teryl White

DL E.J. Wilson

G Desmond Wynn (injured)

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Receiver Tiquan Underwood to be released by Bucs, other WRs might be spared

Bucs receiver Tiquan Underwood, who had an impressive training camp capped with a notable performance in Wednesday’s preseason finale, won’t be part of the final roster.

His agent, Vance Malinovic told the Times that Underwood has been released by the Bucs.

Coach Greg Schiano indicated on Thursday that the receiver position was going to be one that was difficult to pare, but decisions are clearly being made.

Underwood’s release opens the door for one or more other receivers on the bubble to make the squad. Those would include Sammie Stroughter and Jordan Shipley. Roster spots seemed sewed up for Vincent Jackson, Mike Williams, Preston Parker and Arrelious Benn. Both Stroughter and Shipley can contribute on special teams, though it's unclear how much that will weigh in the decision to keep or release them.

Perhaps complicating this decision is the fact that Underwood played for Schiano at Rutgers and remains fond of the player today. But Schiano said after Underwood's signing in the offseason that their relationship wouldn't play a role in future decisions about Underwood. …

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Report: Former Bucs safety Tanard Jackson suspended again, career in jeopardy

Former Bucs safety Tanard Jackson, released in the offseason and signed by the Redskins, has reportedly been notified of another one-year suspension for a violation of the substance-abuse policy.

Jay Glazer of FOX Sports reported Jackson has been informed of the news and cannot be evaluated for reinstatement for at least a year.

But the reality of the situation could be more dire for Jackson. He’s already been twice suspended for substance-abuse violations, meaning he’s required to be monitored under league policy for the remainder of his career. It’s not a guarantee that commissioner Roger Goodell will reinstate Jackson this time around, as he did last September when Jackson finished serving his first year-long ban. Jackson is subject to a lifetime ban because of his repeat violations.

In regard to players in Jackson's situation, the substance-abuse policy says, "After the completion of the one-year banishment period, the Commissioner, in his sole discretion, will determine if and when the player will be allowed to return to the NFL." …

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Bucs must sell 9,000 tickets to avoid blackout of season opener vs. Carolina

The Bucs confirmed they still need to sell 9,000 tickets to reach the 85 percent general seat threshold to lift the NFL's blackout of their regular season opener against Carolina Sept. 9.

The deadline is 4:25 p.m. Thursday to avoid a television blackout within a 75-mile radius of the local market. Seven of the Bucs' nine games played at Raymond James Stadium last season were blacked out.

The Bucs were among only a few teams that elected to take the league's offer of selling 85 percent of the general seats -- about 44,000 -- in order meet the requirements for a sellout at RJS under the NFL's modified guidelines.

The Bucs are offering free parking and half price on all concessions, excluding alcohol, for the season opener against the Panters. They have discounted tickets to include $15 and $30 options, initiated half-season ticket packages and 12-month payment plans.

But the debut of new coach Greg Schiano, as well as a celebration of cornerback Ronde Barber playing in his 200th consecutive game, has not attracted enough fans to avoid the blackout nine days before the season opener against the Panthers. …

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Defensive line issues deepen with Okoye release

With the Amobi Okoye experiment ending with his reported release today, the Bucs are going to have to figure some things out on their defensive line.

And it won’t be easy.

Unlike positions like cornerback or receiver, where teams often have a surplus of talent, it’s harder find solutions at defensive tackle, where the Bucs are dangerously thin. General manager Mark Dominik said he’ll be combing transactions league-wide all day today, hoping to find players he likes who suddenly become available.

But if the Bucs can’t find impact players on the waiver wire or among whatever free agents are available, look for them to continue to use the variety of personnel combinations they’ve been trying out during the preseason.

In the base defense, the defensive line will be Michael Bennett and Adrian Clayborn at the ends, and Gerald McCoy and Roy Miller as defensive tackles. But on passing downs, when the team wants to intensify the pass rush, coaches are going to have to use different players in the interior in place of Miller (this was supposed to be Okoye’s role). …

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More Bucs cuts, including defensive tackle Amobi Okoye

UPDATE, 1:41 p.m.: The Bucs and Okoye reached an injury settlement, according to his agent, meaning he was not deemed to be ready to take the field. No word on the details of the agreement.

POSTED 11:47 a.m.: Defensive tackle Amobi Okoye reportedly is among the Bucs’ cuts and is nearing a return to the Bears, for whom he played last season.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Okoye has already been released as the Bucs make their way toward the NFL’s 53-man roster limit deadline of 9 p.m. tonight. The paper said Okoye will be signing a contract to return to the Bears.

The Bucs also have cut defensive tackle Frank Okam, linebacker Rennie Curran as well as running back Mossis Madu and safety Larry Asante, as we told you last night.

Okoye’s release should come as little surprise. The Bucs signed him to a one-year, $2 million deal during the offseason, but Okoye underwent a supposedly routine minor knee surgery shortly after. But affects from that surgery continue even now, causing Okoye to miss the final three preseason games.

Wednesday night in Washington, after the Bucs’ preseason finale, Okoye told the Times he was getting closer to a return but admitted a previous setback. …

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Bucs begin making cuts; Mossis Madu among them

With the NFL's roster reduction deadline less than 24 hours away, the Bucs have begun making some of their cuts.

We’ve confirmed through the agent of running back Mossis Madu that he has been among those released. Madu, unlike last season when he was cut, cannot join the team’s practice squad because he no longer is eligible (he later joined the active roster and spent more than the maximum number of weeks there).

Earlier today, it was reported elsewhere that safety Larry Asante was released. Asante was in a battle with rookie Keith Tandy and veteran Cody Grimm.

The Bucs have to reduce their roster from 75 players to 53 by 9 p.m. on Friday.

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Projecting Bucs roster ahead of final cuts

This will appear in the Friday newspaper, but here's an early look at my roster projections with final cuts on tap.

Receiver

Safe: Vincent Jackson, Mike Williams, Preston Parker, Arrelious Benn

On the bubble: Tiquan Underwood, Sammie Stroughter, Jordan Shipley

Gone: Landon Cox

Offensive line

Safe: Donald Penn, Carl Nicks, Jeremy Zuttah, Jeremy Trueblood, Demar Dotson, Ted Larsen

On the bubble: Jamon Meredith, Derek Hardman

Gone: Moe Petrus, Desmond Wynn, Bradley Sowell, Jermarcus Hardrick

Tight end

Safe: Dallas Clark, Luke Stocker

On the bubble: Zack Pianalto, Danny Noble

Gone: Drake Dunsmore

Quarterback

Safe: Josh Freeman, Dan Orlovsky

On the bubble: None

Gone: Brett Ratliff

Running back/fullback

Safe: Doug Martin, LeGarrette Blount, Michael Smith, Erik Lorig

On the bubble: Mossis Madu, Robert Hughes

Gone: Cody Johnson

Defensive line

Safe: Michael Bennett, Gerald McCoy, Roy Miller, Adrian Clayborn, George Johnson, Gary Gibson

On the bubble: Amobi Okoye, E.J. Wilson, Wallace Gilberry, Frank Okam, Daniel Te’o-Nesheim

Gone: Teryl White, Jordan Nix

Linebacker

Safe: Quincy Black, Mason Foster, Lavonte David, Dekoda Watson, Adam Hayward

On the bubble: Jacob Cutrera, Najee Goode

Gone: Rennie Curran

Defensive back
 …

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Encouraging news on injured Bucs Arrelious Benn and Amobi Okoye

Two injured Bucs are offering some encouraging news about their likelihood of playing in the team’s Sept. 9 season opener against the Panthers.

Receiver Arrelious Benn and defensive tackle Amobi Okoye both are seeing progress with their respective knee injuries and could realistically play in the game.

Benn, sidelined since the first day of training camp with a knee sprain, has been increasing his activity by the day and should be practicing within days. He said he’s ready and expects to be able to play when the regular season arrives.

The wait, however, has been excruciating.

“It’s tough sitting there watching” Benn said after Wednesday night’s game in Washington. “I went through an injury my rookie year, but I only missed one game. To sit there and watch a whole training camp go by is tough. But I’m not worried about anything. I’m just glad to be back.”

The big test for Benn now is to see whether he’s sharp upon his return after missing hundreds of practice reps and the entire preseason over the past four weeks. He vowed to be ready. …

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Dolphins' plane clips another on runway

The plane transporting the Dolphins from Dallas to Miami following their 30-13 loss to the Cowboys backed into another aircraft on the runway, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

There were no injuries, but the plane sustained significant damage, according to the story.

The Dolphins were stranded for three hours at the Dallas airport before arriving home earlier this morning on a replacement plane.

And the kicker? HBO's "Hard Knocks'' was aboard the plane, filming the incident for their final episode.

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Raheem Morris moves on, but will he be a head coach again?

As you may have read by now, former Bucs coach Raheem Morris had some interesting comments in today’s Tampa Bay Times ahead of tonight’s Bucs game against Morris’ current team, the Redskins.

Among the things he reveals is that he sent a not-so-subtle text message to general manager Mark Dominik on the day the Bucs committed $140 million in salary to free agents Vincent Jackson, Carl Nicks and Eric Wright. It was a luxury Morris was never afforded, having coached the Bucs during years when they consistently had one of the NFL’s lowest payrolls.

But the past is the past. Let’s look ahead.

All this conversation about Morris begs an interesting question: Will he ever get the shot to be a head coach again?

We can only speculate for now, especially because Morris is merely coaching defensive backs in Washington – not really positioning him to rehab his image after 10 straight losses led to his firing. …

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Tonight: Stephen Holder blogs from Bucs-Redskins

rsz_3100649.jpgJoin Times beat reporter Stephen F. Holder at 7 p.m. as he blogs live from FedEx Field in Washington. Stephen will share his thoughts and observations throughout the Bucs' preseason finale. We invite you to share your thoughts in the "Comments'' area below.

PREGAME

I'm here at FedEx Field awaiting kickoff of the Bucs' preseason finale against the Redskins. It should be an uneventful night as far as the Bucs' key players are concerned, but it's not at all a leisurely time for players trying to make this team.

Let's pay particular attention to some of the guys on the bubble tonight.

FIRST QUARTER

*The Bucs trotted out an offensive starting lineup of all backups near as I could tell. Also, Tiquan Underwood was lined up deep on the opening kickoff. It ended up being a touchback, but I thought that was a notable move that I don't recall seeing before tonight.

*The starting offensive line for the Bucs Bradley Sowell (left tackle), Derek Hardman (left guard), Ted Larsen (center), Jamon Meredith (right guard) and Demar Dotson (right tackle). …

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Greg Schiano on demoted LeGarrette Blount: 'He's about winning'

Coach Greg Schiano spoke today about his conversations with running backs Doug Martin and LeGarrette Blount since this week’s decision to name Martin the starter.

Schiano said Blount, while not thrilled about the news, is doing as Schiano asked and keeping things in perspective.

“He’s disappointed, but he’s been great,” Schiano said. “He’s about this team. He’s about winning. At the very beginning I sat them both down and told them what the deal was. They knew it. I think – when you watch the tape, and LeGarrette’s a smart guy – when he watches the tape, he sees that he got outperformed.”

The good news for Blount, Schiano said, is that the competition isn’t technically over.

“It doesn’t mean that that’s it,” he said. “As I’ve told them, ‘It could go the other way if you outperform (Martin).’ We don’t hand out jobs and sign them over. It’s always competition around here, continually. I think Doug’s done a great job and that’s why he’s got the No. 1 seat. But he’s got to work to keep it.”

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Bucs looking at options behind injured Davin Joseph

The Bucs’ offensive line remains in a bit of flux after Pro Bowl guard Davin Joseph’s season-ending knee injury.

Today, the Bucs had Jamon Meredith, at times, lining up with the starting lineup at right guard. Meanwhile, Ted Larsen – who replaced Joseph after the injury in Friday’s game – was working the second team, at center.

None of it is permanent based on statements from coach Greg Schiano, but it would appear that the Bucs aren’t simply handing the right guard position to Larsen, either. Before anyone is given the job, the Bucs are going to thoroughly explore their options.

“We’re looking at a bunch of guys at guard,” Schiano said. “We’ll do that (Wednesday against the Redskins). We’ll have different guys in there. (Derek) Hardman, Larsen, Meredith. We’re going to play a bunch of guys at guard and then we’ll make use of that film in part of our evaluation process. We have time right now before we have to make a final decision, so we’re going to utilize that time.” …

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No surprises as Bucs reach 75-man roster limit

The Bucs reached the 75 man roster limit by the 4 p.m. deadline today with a host of transactions.

Tampa Bay placed guard Davin Joseph (torn patellar tendon) on Injured Reserve and DE Da'Quan Bowers (torn Achilles) on the Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform List. They also waived 10 players: RB De'Anthony Curtis, LS Andrew DePaola, WR Greg Ellingson, TE Collin Franklin, WR Ed Gant, P Eric Guthrie, T Mike Ingersoll, LB Brian Smith, S Tramain Thomas and CB Marquese Wheaton.

On Thursday, the Bucs waived DE Quintin Anderson, WR Armahd Lewis and T Mike VanDerMeulen.

All teams must reach the final 53 man roster for the 2012 season by Sep 1.

 

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