Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker
A week after coaches and players were grilled about a conservative offensive approach, the Bucs took a markedly different posture Sunday against the Redskins.
Four of their first seven plays from scrimmage were passes, including two first-down throws. And that continued later, when the Bucs made good on their promise to take shots down the field.
Big shots, in fact.
In the third quarter, on a first-and-10 from their own 15, the Bucs aired it out, QB Josh Freeman rifling a shot to Mike Williams for a 65-yard gain. Vincent Jackson later joined in, catching a 54-yard pass over his shoulder early in the fourth quarter. Both plays set up touchdowns and both receivers hit the century mark – Williams finishing with our catches for 115 yards, Jackson six receptions for 100 yards.
“Me and Vincent got a lot of one-on-one matchups, and if teams continue to let us make plays like that, that’s what we’re going to have to do,” Williams said. “We have to beat it. If they play us with 2-high (safeties), then we’re going to have to run the ball. We have the backs to do that, too.” …Full Story
CB Eric Wright left the game in the third quarter with what was described as a head injury after taking a knee to the back of the head.
He left the locker room without addressing reporters, but the Bucs were fortunate his loss came on a day E.J. Biggers finally made his 2012 debut.
After breaking his foot on the first day of training camp in July, Biggers played for the first time, recording one tackle and a pass deflection.
It’s been a long time coming.
“I’ve been waiting and I’ve been wanting to be out there with the boys,” Biggers said. “I’ve been there every day, working every day. I’m just happy to be back out there.”
Biggers immediately took on the nickel back role in his return, making him the first cornerback off the bench. That role had been occupied in previous weeks by veteran journeyman Brandon McDonald. Myron Lewis was left inactive Sunday.Full Story
The Bucs had 10 penalties for a season-high 107 yards, but more important, they had impeccable timing.
“There are certain penalties I can live with,” coach Greg Schiano said. “There are others that are inexcusable. We had a few of those today.”
There was no more glaring example of what Schiano was bemoaning than RG Ted Larsen’s false start on a crucial two-point conversion attempt. With the Bucs looking to tie the score after LeGarrette Blount’s 2-yard touchdown run, with the crowd rejoicing and momentum building, it was all undermined by Larsen’s lack of composure.
The call moved the Bucs from the 2-yard line to the 7, from which QB Josh Freeman threw incomplete to WR Mike Williams.
Another example: CB Leonard Johnson was whistled for an illegal block on a Redskins punt attempt in the third quarter. A drive that would have started at the Bucs 29 instead originated at their 15.
In the second quarter, with the Redskins facing a third-and-1 from the Bucs 10, DT Gary Gibson was called for encroachment, giving the Redskins an automatic first down. They scored a touchdown on Robert Griffin III’s 5-yard run on the very next play. …Full Story
First Bucs offensive tackle Jeremy Trueblood lost his starting job. Now, he seems to have taken another backward step.
The Bucs' lineup today does not include the longtime starting right tackle, who is inactive for today's game against the Redskins. That means the Bucs would turn to Jamon Meredith in the event either of their starting tackles were injured today.
Trueblood lost his starting job to Demar Dotson after the latter had a strong performance against the Giants two weeks ago.
Meanwhile, cornerback E.J. Biggers, who suffered a broken foot on the first day of training camp, is back in the lineup today. Biggers' role remains to be seen, but he has been the top cornerback off the bench during the past two seasons.
Other Bucs inactives include: cornerbacks Myron Lewis and Anthony Gaitor, running back Michael Smith, defensive back Keith Tandy, linebacker Najee Goode and receiver Chris Owusu.
The Redskins inactives include running back newly-signed running back Ryan Grant, safety Brandon Meriweather and cornerback Cedric Griffin. …Full Story
Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy was not fined for a possible helmet-to-helmet hit that prompted Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo to register a mild complaint after last Sunday’s game.
McCoy seemed to inadvertently make helmet-to-helmet contact Romo when he sacked the quarterback and forced a fumble in the third quarter at Cowboys Stadium.
After the game, Romo talked about the beating he had taken and referenced the hit.
“There was some other stuff. You probably could have got some helmet-to-helmet on me, I’m sure, on one of those hits,” he said. “I’d be pretty shocked if it felt like that and it wasn’t something there.”
The NFL, it seems, disagrees.Full Story
Cornerback E.J. Biggers’ last game for the Bucs came in the 2011 finale.
He entered training camp looking to build on his promising offseason performance, only to be injured in the very first practice on July 27.
The broken foot he suffered that day has kept him out ever since, but Biggers says he’s now physically ready to play. If coaches see fit – they haven’t told him yet – Biggers will return to the field on Sunday against the Redskins.
The team’s third cornerback the past two seasons, Biggers has had an important role in the defense. But will be ready given the new defensive system and all these weeks on the sideline?
He has no doubt.
“I kept myself in the film room and the coaches kept me in all the meetings,” Biggers said. “I did everything the team was doing. I just couldn’t go on the field. It’s about keeping your mind into it. Derrick Brooks told me that when he came out here one day. As long as you keep your mind at the speed of the game, your body is going to follow. …Full Story
The attention centered on the offense again today at One Buc Place. With Greg Schiano, Josh Freeman and Mike Sullivan available to the media, here’s a sampling of some of today’s exchanges:
Sullivan on whether the playcalling needs more variety:
“There’s always going to be concerns about keeping (the defense) on their toes and yet, at the same time, establish a mindset or time of possession. It’s a constant balance and we’re continuing to work with it. Certainly when there are opportunities to take your shots and do some things down the field, we’ve got to be able to do that. As we establish who we are and what our tendencies are, it falls upon us as coaches to identify those areas where maybe we’re maybe we’re being too predictable.”
Freeman on whether the Bucs will allow him to roll out or move the pocket: …Full Story
If you want to see the Bucs play the Redskins on Sunday, better buy a ticket.
Tampa Bay's 4:25 p.m. game Sunday against Washington at Raymond James Stadium failed to sell out prior to the 72-hour deadline and will be subject to the NFL's local television blackout policy.
It's the 21st time in the last 23 games that a Bucs home game will not been shown on local television. Per NFL rules, when sales do not reach a minimum threshold — in the Bucs' case that's 85 percent of nonpremium seating — at least 72 hours prior to kickoff, games are not permitted to be aired in television markets within 75 miles. The Bucs needed to sell about 44,000 general seats to lift the blackout.
Tampa Bay's regular-season opener against Carolina also was not shown on local television and drew 51,533 fans.Full Story
When players' various roles started coming into focus during in the preseason, we learned that rookie running back Michael Smith was a strong candidate to help on special teams.
Indeed, Smith was the team’s punt returner for the season opener. But Smith was replaced by receiver Arrelious Benn when the latter was healthy enough to play in Week 2.
Meanwhile, the Bucs have been having all sorts of issues with their punt returns, going from Preston Parker in the preseason, to Sammie Stroughter to Jordan Shipley to, now, Roscoe Parrish. The Bucs rank last in the NFL, averaging 4.3 yards per return.
Many of you have asked why Smith wasn’t considered an option, especially given his rare 4.3-second 40-yard dash speed. Coach Greg Schiano answered that question today.
Punt returns, he said, are “really very, very different. The kickoff is an end over end kick. It’s much easier to handle and judge off the tee. The punts, the good punts, spiral. A great punt gets up to the top and then it turns over. …Full Story
Buccaneers defensive end Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, elevated to the starting right defensive end spot on the depth chart Tuesday, is ready for the challenge, knowing it'll be difficult to replace injured DE Adrian Clayborn.
"You want to be able to get out there and show you can play, and prove to your coaches and teams across the NFL that you're a dude," Te'o Nesheim said, smiling.
Te'o-Nesheim, a third-round pick by the Eagles in 2010, has made just two NFL starts, but has seen action in all three games for the Bucs this season, including stepping in for Clayborn in the fourth quarter against the Cowboys. Coach Greg Schiano said he's liked what he's seen out of Te'o-Nesheim, how much he's improved and developed since the offseason.
"Daniel is a good football player, and I've been very impressed with his development since we arrived," Schiano said. "As I've always said to the guys, one man's loss is another man's opportunity, and that's the way the game is. I have a great deal of confidence in Daniel, I think he's going to play very well. He played some good football at Dallas (Sunday). I'm feeling good about Daniel, I hope he can keep doing it." …Full Story
LeGarrette Blount is a 6-foot-, 247-pound running back whose been known to hurdle defenders in the open field. But now the Bucs two-time rushing leader needs the new coaching staff to take a leap of faith in order for him to help jumpstart the anemic rushing attack.
Since losing the starting tailback job to Boise State rookie Doug Martin, Blount has rushed only seven times for 27 yards in three games this season. With the Martin off to a tepid start (63 rushes for 213 yards, 1 TD), coach Greg Schiano said Wednesday he'd like to get Blount more involved in the game plan.
The Bucs are ranked 21st in rushing offense with 94.7 yards per game.
"I think LeGarrette, we need to get him more involved, but I'm not going to make any changes the way we're doing it, just give him a little more action,'' Schiano said. "There was the whole thing with the injury and then we weren't sure what it was and it kind of threw things into flux a little bit. I think he's practicing very well now and he's ready to go so I think we'll have a good 1-2 punch like we envisioned early on. That's what my hope is.'' …Full Story
It's been musical chairs for the Bucs when it comes to the punt return game, and veteran Roscoe Parrish hopes it finally stops with him.
Parrish, the former second-round pick of the Bills out of the University of Miami, was signed Tuesday and coach Greg Schiano said he'll return punts Sunday against the Redskins.
Parrish will be Tampa Bay's third punt returner in as many weeks, following Sammie Stroughter (who got injured) and Jordan Shipley (who got released Tuesday after fumbling a punt Sunday). Parrish is grateful for the opportunity, having been working out at home for the first three weeks of the season.
"It's a good opportunity," Parrish said. "I kind of felt what it's like to sit down and watch a game on Sunday is not a good feeling. Getting this opportunity is a blessing, and I'm trying to take advantage."
Parrish's career 12.0-yard average per attempt on punt returns since 2005 ranks second in that span behind Bears receiver Devin Hester (12.80). Parrish's average is the seventh-best in NFL history for players with 75 returns or more.
"I just got to put the offense in good field position and protect the ball - that's the key thing," Parrish said. …Full Story