JOHN PENDYGRAFT | Times (1999)
Warren Sapp was a member of the league's All-Decade team for the 1990s and 2000s.
Raymond James Stadium is the house that Warren Sapp built. Now he will be a permanent fixture inside of it.
Sapp, 40, the Bucs Pro Bowl defensive tackle and only the second Tampa Bay player to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, confirmed he will become the fifth inductee into the team's Ring of Honor in 2013.
"I used to go to other stadiums and I would always look to see who was up there,'' Sapp said Tuesday. "It's a great honor and I was almost speechless when the Glazers told me.
"Everyone always said it was the house that Sapp built. Whenever we played, there was always a sign that said this is Sapp's house.''
The official announcement will be made during a Thursday, 1:30 p.m. news conference at One Buc Place and Sapp is expected to attend. Sapp’s name and No. 99 will be unveiled during a Ring of Honor ceremony at halftime of an undisclosed regular-season game this year.
It will be the second induction ceremony of the year for Sapp. He is part of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2013 that will be enshrined during a ceremony in Canton, Ohio, Aug. 3. …Full Story
Three cornerbacks and three receivers highlight a list of 13 undrafted college free agents signed by the Bucs Monday.
The list includes Arizona State cornerback Deveron Carr (5-11, 190), UCLA receiver Jerry Johnson (6-3, 211), South Florida tight end Evan Landi (6-3, 236); Northern Illinois cornerback Rashaan Melvin (6-2, 193); Texas receiver D.J. Monroe (5-9, 175); Buffalo linebacker Willie Mosley (6-5, 251); Arizona State tackle Brice Schwab (6-7, 302); Purdue running back Akeem Shavers (5-11, 203); Western Kentucky guard Adam Smith (6-5, 325); Georgia cornerback Branden Smith (5-11, 182) UMass tackle Nick Speller (6-5, 334); Southern Mississippi tackle Jason Weaver (6-5, 305) and Rutgers receiver Tim Wright (6-4 220).
Carr started all 26 games for the Sun Devils in his last two seasons. Although he wasn't invited to the NFL Scouting combine, he was impressive at Arizona State's pro day, running the 40-yard dash in the 4.4's. The team reportedly gave Carr a $20,000 bonus to sign with the Bucs.
Carr is among three Pac-12 players, including his Sun Devils teammate Schwab and Johnson, who caught 31 passes for 428 yards and a touchdown for the Bruins last season. …Full Story
The draft is in the books, and after taking a day to decompress after several busy weeks on the beat, I’ve got some observations to share. Some are criticisms/questions, others are just random impressions or thoughts.
Without further ado, here’s what I think about the Bucs draft:
** I think the Bucs have a lot of confidence in Luke Stocker, more than most fans, in fact. This is evident based on the Bucs’ decision to not draft a tight end despite the free-agent status of Dallas Clark (who isn’t expected to return) and Stocker’s skinny resume’.
Stocker caught just 16 passes for 165 yards last season, but here’s something you probably didn’t realize: He was targeted just 27 times.
That’s not enough at-bats to make much of a judgment. With more opportunities, we’ll get a better feel for whether Stocker can tap into the upside the Bucs think he has. His final game of 2012 was, by far, his best in a victory over the Falcons. Can he build on that? We’ll see.
But I’ll leave you with one caveat: Clark wasn’t signed until after the 2012 draft, so we cannot rule out the addition of another tight end. …Full Story
Oddly, this is our second consecutive post with a Patriots theme, but it’s worth checking out.
A story in today’s Boston Globe addresses the interesting trend New England has developed of drafting and/or signing Greg Schiano’s former players from Rutgers.
It’s not necessarily a shocking trend given Bucs coach Schiano’s relationship with Patriots coach Bill Belichick.
But with the Patriots drafting three Rutgers players over the weekend and signing another as a rookie free agent, this a little more than coincidental. That brings to seven the number of former Scartlet Knights either drafted or signed as rookie free agents by the Patriots since 2010. All were coached by Schiano, who was the coach there until January 2012.
Belichick came to know Schiano when Belichick’s son attended Rutgers. That’s when he learned they had a lot in common, making Schiano’s players appealing to the Patriots.
"I've known Coach Schiano for quite a while,” Belichick said. “I'd say the players he recruits and the program he runs is in a lot of ways similar to what we do. …Full Story
Take our poll on Tim Tebow's NFL career.
Now that he’s on his way to New England – a result of Saturday’s trade – it’s a good time to ask how former Bucs running back LeGarrette Blount will fit in with the Patriots.
The early answer, based on how things appear on the surface, is that Blount finds himself in a similar predicament with the defending AFC East champions.
They, like the Bucs, have an established starting running back in Stevan Ridley, who had 290 carries for 1,263 yards in 2012. That’s nearly as many attempts as the Bucs’ Doug Martin, who rushed 319 times for 1,454 yards last season. Martin’s big share of the workload reduced Blount to a limited role, and Blount might or might not see a change in New England.
The Patriots lost Danny Woodhead in free agency to the Chargers, and that opens up some playing time in the backfield. But Woodhead was essentially a third-down back, and that’s not an area that Blount has shown himself to be an asset. Patriots backup Shane Vereen has the inside track at that job after rushing 62 times in 2012. …Full Story
Sixth round (189th overall) Full Story
Position: Running back
Height/weight: 5-11, 222
Hometown: Haines City
College highlights: The versatile back ran for 1,340 yards and 17 touchdowns in his career, but was also a threat as a receiver, catching 67 passes for 585 yards…Said he learned "patience" as secondary back earlier in his career before having a breakout senior year, rushing for career-high 621 yards and being one of 11 FBS players named to the AFCA AllState Good Works Team.
High school: Ran for 1,300 yards and 15 touchdowns as a senior for Ridge Community High…Ranked the No. 18th best running back prospect by Scout.com, and was FSAW All-State honorable mention.
Personal: Says he’s been inspired by his late mother, Elgusta, who died in a car accident in December 2010 at the age 47…Grew up a Bucs fan in Polk County.. Recognized for community service, says giving back is “part of my life.”
Jeff Demps wouldn’t have been able to pursue both his passions with the New England Patriots.
But he might get the chance in Tampa Bay, after his acquisition today in a trade with the Buccaneers.
The Olympic silver medalist was packaged in a deal that sent LeGarrette Blount to the Patriots this afternoon, and now feels more optimistic that he can continue his pursuit of a track and field career in addition to playing in the NFL.
“Track and field is not a money thing for Jeff,” said his agent, Daniel Rose. “He just loves track and wants to do it. But Tampa Bay has been great. I think they’re okay with it.”
The Bucs were noncommittal immediately after making the deal, with general manager Mark Dominik saying, “We’ve talked to Jeff a little bit. We understand what he’s doing. We’re just taking (his) rights to see what happens.”
With the track season extending through the summer, Demps might not be in position to compete in much of the Bucs’ offseason program. That was a major sticking point with the Patriots and impacted their decision to part ways. …Full Story
The Bucs, having just traded running back LeGarrette Blount, added some depth in their backfield by trading up in the sixth round to pick Miami running back Mike James.
Tampa Bay shipped their 196th overall pick in the sixth round -- plus the seventh-rounder they netted in the Blount deal with New England - to get James.
James, a 5-foot-11, 222-pound senior, is a versatile back, rushing for 1,340 career yards while also racking up 585 yards receiving.
A Haines City, native, James also won the 2012 Community Service Man of the Year Award and Captain's Award at the team's end-of-the-season banquet.
“I like Mike James,’’ ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper told the Miami Herald. “He was one of the guys you can get probably a little later in the draft. It’s a kid over 220 pounds [who] has better quickness than he does 40 time. He runs inside very effectively” but “can bounce it to the perimeter. He’s got some skills.Full Story
“You saw what Alfred Morris [of FAU] did last year as a sixth-round pick.”
Two-time leading rusher LeGarrette Blount saw his role reduced with the Bucs last season and on Saturday he was given a fresh start with another team.
Tampa Bay traded Blount to the New England Patriots for a seventh-round pick and the rights to former Florida running back/kick returner Jeff Demps.
General manager Mark Dominik has been attempting to trade Blount since the end of the 2012 season.
"LeGarrette is going into the final year of his contract,'' Dominik said. "We've had LeGarrette here for a couple different staffs and all I can tell you is LeGarrette has been a good player for us but we felt like as an organization, this was best for our football team.''
Demps, who is an Olympic sprinter, has said he wants to concentrate on running track and play football. The Bucs attempted to sign Demps as a free agent last season and seem willing to work with his track schedule.
Demps played in the final two preseason games for the Patriots last season but was placed on injured reserve, even though it was not believed he was hurt seriously. …Full Story
Fifth round (147th overall) Full Story
Position: Outside linebacker
Height/weight: 6-foot-3, 257-pounds
College highlights: Finished fourth in program history with 18.5 career sacks, showing good burst off the edge…Played defensive end in college, in both the 4-3 and 3-4, but profiles as outside linebacker at the NFL. Also starred on special teams, with five career blocked kicks, three his senior year, when he also had 6.5 sacks.
High school: A two-time All-Western New York selection while playing at Grover Cleveland. In his senior year, Means had 108 tackles, 20 sacks, an interception and five forced fumbles. Also a standout at track and field, basketball and swim teams.
Steven Means admits he's got a nasty mean streak on the field.
Means, a 6-foot-4, 250-pound defensive end drafted by the Bucs in the fifth round Saturday, said that's a key reason he racked up 18.5 sacks in his career at the University of Buffalo.
"I just don't like being touched," Means said. "And that's probably why I'm a decent pass rusher. I just don't like offensive linemen, especially, touching me, so I want to get them off me as quick as possible..
"I'm definitely quick tempered on the field. I get mad if someone is just lining up across from me, thinking they can block me."
Means, who profiles as an edge rusher and outside linebacker for the Bucs - as well as a key special teams contributor - wasn't invited to the NFL Combine and didn't know if he'd even be drafted.
But after Means ran a 4.6 40-yard dash at Buffalo's pro-day, he received interest from the Bucs and other teams, leading to Saturday's surprise selection.
"Speechless would be the perfect way to describe the feeling," Means said. "I've always had that tough road to go through, I've always had to sneak through the back door." …Full Story
Fourth round (126th overall)
William Gholston Full Story
Position: Defensive end
School: Michigan State
Height/weight: 6-foot-7, 278
Hometown: Detroit, MI
College highlights: Ranked 10th in MSU history in tackles for loss (30), racking up 142 career tackles and 10 sacks. Had a strong junior year, with 59 tackles and a team-high 4.5 sacks, earning All Big Ten honorable mention…Came up big in bowl games, including six tackles for losses and three sacks in Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl and Outback Bowl..
High school: A two-time all-state selection for Southeastern High in Detroit, recording a career-best 115 tackles and 27 sacks as a senior…Ranked among the nation’s top prospects and participated in the 2010 Under Armour All-America Game in St. Pete.
Personal: Majored in human development and family studies at Michigan State University… Cousin of Vernon Gholston, the No. 6 overall pick by the Jets in 2008 out of Ohio State..
With their second fourth-round pick, the Bucs picked Michigan State junior DE William Gholston.
Gholston, an athletically-gifted 6-foot-6, 281-pounder, racked up 59 tackles and a team-high 4.5 sacks in 2012, when he was named All Big Ten honorable mention. Over his career, Gholston had 142 tackles, 30 for loss, and 10 sacks.
This fourth round pick was acquired from the Patriots in the Aqib Talib trade last year, adding another layer to the selection.
Gholston is the cousin of Vernon Gholston, who was the No. 6 overall pick out of Ohio State, but has just 42 tackles in 45 career games.
With other young defensive ends in Adrian Clayborn and Da'Quan Bowers, NFL draft analyst Mike Mayock said Gholston has a great opportunity to fit into the rotation. But Mayock wants to see more out of his talent.
"You've got to get more consistent play," Mayock siad. "He flashes greatness but doesn't do it consistently. A kid with that body type and genetics ought to be a first round pick, not a fourth round pick."
Fourth round (100th overall) Full Story
Position: Defensive tackle
Height/weight: 6-1, 307
Hometown: Fort Walton Beach, FL
College highlights: One of the stronger linemen in the draft, bench pressing 225 pounds 37 times at the NFL Combine...Started all 38 games he appeared at Illinois, recording 186 tackles, with 3.5 sacks and 17.5 tackles for loss...Had a career-high 72 tackles his junior year, when he was named All-Big Ten honorable mention...Played nose and three-technique.
High school: As a senior at Fort Walton Beach High, he racked up 80 tackles with five sacks, receiving Class 4A All-District II accolades, helping the team go 10-2 and win the district title. He was a three-star prospect from Rivals.com, with ESPN rating him the 34th best defensive tackle in the nation.
Personal: Communications major at Illinois, was scheduled to graduate last December. Son of Karen and Floyd Spence.