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Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Ronde Barber says he's headed to Fox Sports this fall

Ronde Barber hinted at the fact he would have a career in television when he announced his retirement earlier this month

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

Ronde Barber hinted at the fact he would have a career in television when he announced his retirement earlier this month

Ronde Barber played 16 seasons in the NFL but says he feels like a rookie again.

The Bucs cornerback, who announced his retirement earlier this month, said he will begin his broadcasting career by joining Fox Sports this fall.

Barber, 38, said Friday the scope and specifics of his role will be known shortly but it's a given he will be involved at some level in the network's coverage of the NFL with likely duties for Fox Sports 1, set to launch in Aug.

"Its been good working this out with Fox,'' Barber said in a text to the Tampa Bay Times. "The guys there have been great. I will likely have a multifaceted role with Fox and Sports 1 so my exposure will be good for me my first year. It will be a learning opportunity for sure but I look forward to this new challenge. I'm definitely excited.''

There has been speculation that Barber might team with Dick Stockton to broadcast NFL games for FOX in the fall. Stockton has been the Sunday partner of former Bucs safety John Lynch. …

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Bucs add Temple RB/KR Brown

Needing more play makers in the kick return game, the Bucs have signed former Temple RB/KR Matt Brown.

The 5-foot-5 Brown, who participated in the Bucs' rookie minicamp as a tryout player, was the Big East's all-purpose yards per game leader with 143.3. He finished his career with the second-most all-purpose yards (5,272) in the conference. He also was third in rushing touchdowns (22) and fourth in 100-yard games (10).

Brown led the Big East with 143.4 all-purpose yards per game. While he provide depth at the running back position, Brown's real value to the Bucs would be has a kick returner. He had 31 kickoff returns for 790 yards and a touchdown and 241 yards on 17 punt returns as a senior with the Owls.

  

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Bucs WR Smith retires after six seasons

Bucs receiver Steve Smith announced his retirement from the NFL after six seasons in a release by the team Wednesday.

Smith, 28, joined the Bucs in April as a free agent from the Rams. Ultimately, recurring knee injuries ended his career. Smith had only 25 receptions the last two seasons since undergoing microfracture surgery.

“I’ve been blessed to play the game that I love at the highest level for the past six years,” Smith said in a release issued by the Buccaneers. “I will always cherish my time with the New York Giants and our Super Bowl victory in 2007.  I also want to thank the Philadelphia Eagles, St. Louis Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers organizations for the opportunities they gave me.  This was not an easy decision, but it’s the right decision for me at this time.”

Smith entered the National Football League as the New York Giants’ second-round selection (51st overall) in the 2007 NFL Draft, out of the University of  Southern California. He played in 64 games with 29 starts, recording 245 receptions for 2,641 yards and 12 touchdowns.

But Smith's knee injury occurred when he was having talks about a long-term contract with the Giants.

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Revis on schedule? Jets game -- not training camp -- is target

Head coach Greg Schiano said Darrelle Revis' target for return is the Bucs' first regular-season game against the Jets at MetLife Stadium Sept. 8.

AP photo

Head coach Greg Schiano said Darrelle Revis' target for return is the Bucs' first regular-season game against the Jets at MetLife Stadium Sept. 8.

Darrelle Revis' recovery from ACL surgery is on schedule but are the Bucs moving the target for his return?

When Tampa Bay traded the 13th overall pick in 2013 and a conditional third-rounder next year to the Jets in exchange for Revis, general manager Mark Dominik said he believed Revis would be ready for the first day of training camp in late July. On Wednesday, coach Greg Schiano said Revis is progressing on the schedule monitored by Bucs trainer Todd Toriscelli. But he insisted Revis' target for return is the Bucs first regular season game against the Jets at MetLife Stadium Sept. 8.

Ultimately, getting Revis to the starting line of the 2013 regular season has always been the goal. In fact, it appears Revis may not play much in the preseason -- if at all. …

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Penn adamant his weight is not an issue

Donald Penn made it clear he's in the best shape he's been in a while.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

Donald Penn made it clear he's in the best shape he's been in a while.

Bucs Pro Bowl left tackle Donald Penn acknowledged Wednesday he and coach Greg Schiano had disagreements last season about what his playing weight should be.

But Penn made it clear he's in the best shape he's been in a while, and Schiano said weight hasn't been an issue in the past year, "He's done everything we've asked," Schiano said.

The only reason this came up was because Penn took to Twitter over Memorial Day weekend after taking exception to something written on a fan web site, PewterReport.com, that alleged Penn might be on the hot seat in 2013 because the Bucs have tired of him failing to meet weight clauses in his contract in 2012.

Penn regretted the way he angrily responded on Twitter, using a few expletives, but admitted such inaccurate reports "kind of stabbed me in the stomach." …

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Bucs' Grimm owns up to arrests, hopes for another chance

Cody Grimm, who participated in Wednesday’s organized team activities, declined to explain specifics of what happened.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times (2009)

Cody Grimm, who participated in Wednesday’s organized team activities, declined to explain specifics of what happened.

Bucs backup safety Cody Grimm, arrested twice the past three months on public intoxication charges, said he made an “error in judgment,” but hopes he gets another chance.

“I’ve learned from my mistakes, and it won’t happen again, I promise you that,” Grimm said. “I know the way they do things around here, and it’s not the Buccaneer Way. I can’t change anything in the past, besides to learn and move forward.”

Grimm, 26, participated in Wednesday’s organized team activities and had an impressive practice, with an intereception and two pass break-ups in the later periods. Afterwards, Grimm declined to explain specifics of what led to his arrests. He was arrested at the Hampton Inn in Leesburg, Va. at 5:30 a.m.. Sunday, where he was attending a wedding. While the public intoxication is a misdemeanor, Grimm could face more severe penalties due to a previous arrest on public intoxication in Christianburg, Va. on Mar. 10. …

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Schiano says 99.9 percent of Bucs plays in OTAs permissible

The perception that the Bucs' off-season practices involve too much physical contact in violation of NFL rules stems from a physical altercation last week between Illinois rookie defensive tackle Akeem Spence and center Jeremy Zuttah, right, with head coach Greg Schiano.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

The perception that the Bucs' off-season practices involve too much physical contact in violation of NFL rules stems from a physical altercation last week between Illinois rookie defensive tackle Akeem Spence and center Jeremy Zuttah, right, with head coach Greg Schiano.

Bucs coach Greg Schiano may not always follow pro football etiquette – the kneel-down play against the Giants last season comes to mind – but he does follow the rules.

That’s why he took exception Wednesday with a report in ProFootballTalk.com that the team’s off-season practices involve too much physical contact in a possible violation of NFL bylaws.

 

The controversy stems from a physical altercation last week between Illinois rookie defensive tackle Akeem Spence and center Jeremy Zuttah, who played for Schiano at Rutgers.

On the first team drill of the first OTA practice, Spence and Zuttah had to be separated. Despite league rules that prohibit excessive physical contact between players during off-season practices, there were a few more instances where players were pushed to the ground. The incidents were referenced in a report by Profootballtalk.com Wednesday.

A team can be made to forfeit practice time and coaches can be fined for violating the no contact rules for off-season practices.

On Wednesday, Schiano claimed that his coaching staff teaches the proper techniques for non-contact practices and believes what the Bucs do is permissible. …

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Bucs Grimm arrested second time in Va. on public intoxication

Cody Grimm, a backup safety for the Bucs, is entering his fourth season and recently took a paycut to remain with the team.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times (2010)

Cody Grimm, a backup safety for the Bucs, is entering his fourth season and recently took a paycut to remain with the team.

Bucs safety Cody Grimm was arrested Sunday for the second time since March 10 on public intoxication charges in Virginia.

Grimm, 26, the son of Redskins Hall of Fame offensive lineman Russ Grimm, was arrested at the Hampton Inn in Leesburg, Va., at 5:30 a.m., Sunday where he was attending a wedding.

According to the Washington Post, court records show Grimm has a hearing scheduled for July 9.

While the public intoxication charge is a misdemeanor, Grimm could face more severe penalties due to a previous arrest on public intoxication in Christianburg, Va., on March 10. The Post reported that Grimm was given a ‘deferred disposition,’ in that case which would allow prosecutors to drop the charge if the former Virginia Tech star had fulfilled certain promises and remained out of trouble.

Grimm, a backup safety for the Bucs, is entering his fourth season and recently took a paycut to remain with the team. In a statement released by the team, coach Greg Schiano said he was "disappointed" to learn of Grimm’s arrest. …

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Keyshawn: Slow down the Ferrari, Bieber

Keyshawn Johnson runs with the ball during a 2003 game against the Saints.

TONI L. SANDYS | Times (2003)

Keyshawn Johnson runs with the ball during a 2003 game against the Saints.

Keyshawn Johnson was never a speed receiver. And he didn't have the wheels to successfully chase down a speeding Justin Bieber during Memorial Day weekend when he tried to confront the pop singer about his dangerous driving habits.

According to a report on TMZ.com, Johnson had just left a party Monday night 'inside his exclusive gated community of Calabasas' in So-Cal when Bieber zommed past him in his Ferrari at 'breakneck speeds.'

Johnson reportedly brought his child home first, then took off after Beiber in his Prius (which is what you would call a bad matchup).

Johnson was a little Keyed up, feeling as though Bieber could've killed someone, so he blocked the singer's Ferrari in the drive-way and 'got out of his car to confront Justin face-to-face.' But Beibs reportedly ran inside of the house and refused to come out.

That's probably a smart move by Bieber, who is about 5-7, 110 pounds, according to TMZ. Keyshawn played at 6-4, 212.

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NFL to push draft back two weeks to May 8-10

Already wondering what to get mom for next Mother's Day?

How about a franchise quarterback?

The NFL has informed fans on its Facebook page that the NFL draft will be held May 8-10, 2014, at New York City's Radio City Music Hall. Mother's Day, incidentally, is May 11.

The league had tinkered with the idea of holding the draft even later than that and pushing back the start of the league calender. But there was a lot of push back on that idea from league executives. The NFL also announced the scouting combine in Indianapolis will be held Feb. 18-25 with the league year scheduled to begin March 11.

Who knows what the attention-starved NFL will do in future years? But for now, it means only two additional weeks of Mel Kiper tearing down prospective draft picks.

 

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Penn takes to Twitter to set record straight on his weight

Donald Penn was the only member of the Bucs offensive line to start all 16 games in 2012 at the same position.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

Donald Penn was the only member of the Bucs offensive line to start all 16 games in 2012 at the same position.

Donald Penn is in excellent physical condition at 330-pounds and wants anyone who thinks otherwise to know they’re wrong.

The Bucs left tackle took to Twitter during Memorial Day weekend after taking exception to something written in a fan website, PewterReport.com, that alleged Penn might be on the hot seat in 2013 because the Bucs have tired of him failing to meet weight clauses in 2012.

Mark Cook, the Editor in Chief at Pewter Report, wrote "Penn loves playing for the Buccaneers and is one of those locker room guys that coaches love to have, but also has an occasional lazy streak and has failed to meet most of the weight clauses in his most recent contract...which also drives management crazy.

The item first appeared on Profootballtalk.com, where Penn directed his first tweet.

"330 right now in the best shape I been in a long time stop reporting bull(expletive) I made all my weigh in last yr n this yr,'' Penn tweeted.

Then later he said, “I still shut down the best DEs in the game n ball out every Sunday I gave up 4 sacks all yr last season get yo (expletive) right.'' …

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Bucs' top pick Johnthan Banks signs rookie contract

Johnthan Banks is expected to play an important role on the Bucs defense this season, likely taking on, at minimum, the nickel back role.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

Johnthan Banks is expected to play an important role on the Bucs defense this season, likely taking on, at minimum, the nickel back role.

Second-round draft pick Johnthan Banks is officially onboard, with the Bucs announcing he has signed a four-year contract today.

Banks, a cornerback, was the Bucs’ top pick this year, with the team’s first-round choice shipped to the Jets in the Darrelle Revis trade.

The collective bargaining agreement calls for rookies drafted beyond the first round to receive four-year deals. The exact value of Banks’ deal wasn’t immediately known, but the limited negotiating parameters suggest it is worth slightly more than last year’s No. 43rd overall selection. That player, Stephen Hill of the Jets, signed for $5 million with $2.9 million in guarantees.

Banks is expected to play an important role on the Bucs defense this season, likely taking on, at minimum, the nickel back role.

The 2012 Thorpe Award winner (nation’s top defensive back) from Mississippi State finished his college career with 16 interceptions, most in school history. …

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Quick transition key to Akeem Spence winning Bucs NT job

No one would be surprised to see fourth-round pick Akeem Spence win the starting job at nose tackle.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

No one would be surprised to see fourth-round pick Akeem Spence win the starting job at nose tackle.

No one would be surprised to see fourth-round pick Akeem Spence win the starting job at nose tackle.

But that doesn’t mean he won’t face some challenges in achieving that goal.

One of the adjustments Spence is making is learning to play the “tilted nose” that the Bucs employ, a tactic that requires the nose tackle to line up at an exaggerated angle. It’s not something many teams use this extensively, but it’s a staple for coach Greg Schiano and his defense. It’s not something Spence ever used at Illinois, either.

“That’s a 60 degree angle, so I never did that,” Spence said. “But (I’m) just repping it and going through it individually, practicing it (against) the goal post. Being here in the rookie camp and (OTAs), it’s starting to become natural for me.”

Spence wasn’t familiar with this element when he arrived, but he’s beginning to learn there are advantages to lining up tilted.

“It’s working out pretty good,” he said. “I can defeat some blocks easier and I’m learning how to move to the B gap.” …

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When will Tampa Bay's next turn to host Super Bowl come?

An aerial view of Raymond James Stadium before the 2009 Super Bowl.

SKIP O'ROURKE | Times

An aerial view of Raymond James Stadium before the 2009 Super Bowl.

A pair of Super Bowls were awarded to San Francisco and Houston on Tuesday when NFL owners voted overwhelmingly to stage the game in those cities in 2016 and 2017, respectively.

But Tampa Bay knows a little about holding Super Bowls, too. So, when can we reasonably expect the game to return?

The next 12 months will be critical in determining that answer. That’s because the Bucs and Tampa Bay leaders are expected to make a push for the next opening, the 2018 game.

As Tampa mayor Bob Buckhorn told Times reporter Richard Danielson this week, “I fully anticipate we will be back in the regular (bidding) rotation come (Super Bowl) 52.” That’s the 2018 game, to be clear.

But it won’t be easy to pull off. There’s increased competition these days and an emphasis on elements that go beyond the weather in February – an area where Tampa Bay easily trumps most other competitors.

Indianapolis leaders say they’re going to get in on the 2018 bidding process, and their success holding the Super Bowl there in February 2012 bodes well for them. …

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Dominik: Thoughts of Revis trade began after knee injury

New Bucs cornerback Darrelle Revis, left, rides a stationary bike as he talks to Todd Toriscelli, Director of Sports Medicine and Performance during Monday's optional workout.

AP photo

New Bucs cornerback Darrelle Revis, left, rides a stationary bike as he talks to Todd Toriscelli, Director of Sports Medicine and Performance during Monday's optional workout.

Mark Dominik apparently has a little evil genius in him. Either that or he simply made an incredibly accurate guess on the future of Darrelle Revis.

In any case, during reporter Andrea Kremer’s latest behind-the-scenes report on Revis’ rehab for NFL Network, Dominik, the Bucs' general manager, revealed the very first time he thought about acquiring Revis from his former team, the Jets.

It was, interestingly, Week 3 of last season – the same day Revis suffered what turned out to be a torn ACL, ending his 2012 season. It seems like a strange thought to occur to Dominik on a day when Revis’ ability to return to his elite level was at least somewhat in doubt.

“Quite frankly, it started when he blew out his knee,” Dominik said of his thought process. “I actually went into (personnel director) Dennis Hickey’s office and I said, ‘That could be a reason why he leaves the Jets.’ Because I knew what his contract situation was. So, when he hurt his knee, I thought, ‘That’s going to be an ‘out’ possibility.’”

Obviously, Dominik nailed it. …

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