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Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs open 10 training camp practices to public

Greg Schiano shouts out a game scenario during the final day of Bucs training camp in August at One Buc Place

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

Greg Schiano shouts out a game scenario during the final day of Bucs training camp in August at One Buc Place

 

The Bucs will open 10 training camp practices to the public when workouts get underway next month.

The team released its public camp schedule today, including what’s become a standard Saturday-night practice at Raymond James Stadium.

The remaining workouts will all be held at One Buc Place in Tampa, each slated for 8:45 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

The schedule is as follows:

July 25: 8:45 a.m.-11:30 a.m.

July 26: 8:45 a.m.-11:30 a.m.

July 27: 6:30 p.m.-9 p.m. (Raymond James Stadium)

July 29: 8:45 a.m.-11:30 a.m.

July 31: 8:45 a.m.-11:30 a.m.

Aug. 1: 8:45 a.m.-11:30 a.m.

Aug. 2: 8:45 a.m.-11:30 a.m.

Aug. 3: 8:45 a.m.-11:30 a.m.

Aug. 6: 8:45 a.m.-11:30 a.m.

Aug. 10: 8:45 a.m.-11:30 a.m.

 

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Freeman says he will be 'content' if he has to move on

Josh Freeman, 25, is in the final season of his five-year, $26-million contract he signed as a rookie in 2009.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Josh Freeman, 25, is in the final season of his five-year, $26-million contract he signed as a rookie in 2009.

Josh Freeman says is not focused on his tenuous contract situation and ready to move onto another NFL team if his best effort isn't good enough for the Buccaneers.

Freeman, 25, is in the final season of his five-year, $26-million contract he signed as a rookie in 2009. He is coming off a record-setting performance in 2012 in which he set franchise marks for most passing yards (4,065) and touchdowns (27) in a single season. But a promising 6-4 start was torpedoed by a mid-season collapse and five-game losing streak that resulted in a 7-9 record under first-year head coach Greg Schiano.

The Bucs drafted North Carolina State quarterback Mike Glennon in the third round in April and Schiano, who inherited Freeman, has said he not 'wedded,' to the fifth-year pro. …

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James Gandolfini, Bucs coach Greg Schiano became unlikely tandem

James Gandolfini worked with Greg Schiano to promote Rutgers football.

Rutgers athletics

James Gandolfini worked with Greg Schiano to promote Rutgers football.

When Bucs coach Greg Schiano took over Rutgers’ disaster of a football program in 2001, he had quite the job ahead of him.

Generally speaking, his task was to make Rutgers relevant after becoming one of the worst programs in the country. It was a mission that would require help from a number of different sources, both conventional and nonconventional.

This is how The Sopranos star James Gandolfini, one of Rutgers’ most famous graduates, and Schiano joined forces. Their common goal – Gandolfini was one of Rutgers’ most ardent fans – resulted in a joint effort to promote the program. Most notable was a 2001 television commercial in which they appeared together.

Gandolfini died Wednesday at 51, and Rutgers – as well as Schiano – lost a good friend.

The two had much in common. Both clearly shared a passion for football, and both have deep New Jersey ties; Schiano was born in Wycoff, Gandolfini in Westwood. For both, seeing Rutgers succeed was personal. Gandolfini was a fixture at games, evidenced in the photo below posted by Bucs running back Brian Leonard, a Rutgers grad. …

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Bucs sign another cornerback, creating greater competition

Michael Adams (27), playing for the Cardinals, sacks Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and forces a fumble during a 2010 playoff game.

AP photo

Michael Adams (27), playing for the Cardinals, sacks Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and forces a fumble during a 2010 playoff game.

 

The Bucs certainly made significant changes to their secondary when they added cornerback Darrelle Revis and safety Dashon Goldson earlier in the offseason.

But the bottom ranks of the defensive backs unit is still a work in progress, evidenced by today’s signing of former Cardinals cornerback Michael Adams. Adams earned his spot through a good showing in last week’s minicamp at One Buc Place, which doubled as a tryout camp for several free agents. The Bucs last week also signed receiver Derek Hagan after his performance in the camp.

Adams is entering his seventh NFL season and could factor in an interesting preseason competition in the secondary. At 5-8 and 181 pounds, the Louisiana-Lafeyette product appeared in 74 games with Arizona, making seven starts. Four of those starts came in 2010, when Adams had two of his three career interceptions.

It’s expected Revis, veteran Eric Wright and second-round pick Johnthan Banks will, in some order, be the Bucs’ top three cornerbacks. But there will be intrigue beyond them. …

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Jonathan Casillas strives to make Bucs' LB battle interesting

Jonathan Casillas started just eight games in three seasons with the Saints, but he played a great deal as a reserve and now wants to take the next step to become a more consistent contributor.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

Jonathan Casillas started just eight games in three seasons with the Saints, but he played a great deal as a reserve and now wants to take the next step to become a more consistent contributor.

 

We told you earlier this week about linebacker Dekoda Watson and his efforts to lock up the starting job on the strong-side.

But as Watson and coaches readily acknowledge, Watson has significant competition, and his name is Jonathan Casillas.

Like Watson, Casillas does not have a household name, and he, too, is trying to make his mark as a young veteran who. Like Watson, Casillas has been a reliable special teams player and a fill-in starter and is entering his fourth season, but he's seeking more.

The former Wisconsin standout talked this week about how he’ll fit in the Tampa Bay defense.

“It’s a little similar to what New Orleans was doing last year with (defensive coordinator) Steve Spaguolo,” said Casillas, who spent three seasons with the Saints.

“A lot of matching coverages and zone blitzes. It’s similar, but all the terminology’s different and the angles we attack offenses is different. But the gist of it is the same. There’s some carryover. I like this defense. It’s made for people like me who like to run and hit. We have a great group of guys like that in our unit.”

Asked what quality will help separate him in a position battle, Casillas continued with a similar theme. …

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Bucs sign vet WR Derek Hagan, competition intensifies

Derek Hagan spent time on the Raiders’ roster last season, catching 20 passes for 259 yards.

Getty Images

Derek Hagan spent time on the Raiders’ roster last season, catching 20 passes for 259 yards.

 

The Bucs took advantage of relaxed NFL rules that permitted teams to conduct tryouts with players during minicamps, signing former third-round pick Derek Hagan to a contract.

Hagan, who joined the Bucs in practice on Tuesday and Wednesday, is a receiver who spent time on the Raiders’ roster last season, catching 20 passes for 259 yards. The 28-year old is joining his fifth team since entering the league with the Dolphins in 2006. He enjoyed his best NFL season in 2007, when he caught 27 passes for 373 yards for Miami. Another receiver, Jheranie Boyd, was released to make room on the 90-man active roster.

The decision by Steve Smith to retire last month created a potential opportunity for another veteran receiver. Like they did with Smith, the Bucs are likely interested in determining what Hagan has left.

They can't all make the roster, so the battle for the final few spots in this receiving corps is going to be heated come training camp. With Kevin Ogletree currently leading the race for the No. 3 spot, players like Tiquan Underwood, Chris Owusu, David Douglas, Eric Page and Hagan battling for precious few spots. …

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After long offseason, Bucs bag final minicamp practice

The Bucs are getting a sneak peek at Brad Pitt's World War Z after canceling practice.

Paramount Pictures

The Bucs are getting a sneak peek at Brad Pitt's World War Z after canceling practice.

 

The Bucs were scheduled to have their final practice of the offseason today with one more minicamp workout. It was to be the last hurdle between players and five weeks of down time before the start of training camp

But after a long offseason of sweat, coach Greg Schiano decided to cut his players some slack.

Forget practice. The Bucs are headed for a matinee instead. The team, as a group, will see a sneak peek of Brad Pitt’s summer action thriller, World War Z. Judging by player responses on social media, the excitement is palpable.

“There is a God!!!” linebacker Dekoda Watson exclaimed on Twitter.

“Shout out to the H.C. (head coach) for tossing us a bone,” tight end Zach Miller posted, also on Twitter.

Though the outing likely was pre-planned, the break comes at a good time. The team has been dealing with a stomach virus that has affected a number of players and limited some during this week's practices. And on Wednesday, several players, including starters Da'Quan Bowers and Mark Barron, suffered heat exhaustion and had to leave practice.

With minicamp in the books, the Bucs’ next foray onto the field will come in training camp in late July.

 

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Revis' former teammate hoping for chance to face off

 

The Bucs’ season opener at the Jets has already been billed as a grudge match pitting new Bucs cornerback Darrelle Revis against his former teammates.

And it would be an even more interesting matchup should the Jets’ top receiver, Santonio Holmes play.

Holmes is recovering from a major foot injury and can’t yet say when he’ll be cleared to return. But he’s hoping that day comes in time for him to face Revis in a matchup he’s looking forward to.

“It would be a great matchup, it would be a lot of fun to go out there against an old nemesis,” Holmes said Wednesday, according to the New York Daily News. “(As) a guy who’s coming off an injury himself, I wish him much success this season, and hopefully he’s prepared and ready just like I will be.”

While Revis is fully expected to play in the game despite the torn knee ligament he suffered last season, Holmes’ status seems a bit less certain. He was vague when asked about his health.

“It’s been that hard to just get the feeling of your body to move in an everyday motion for so many years,” said Holmes. “To have something like this happen, it kind of puts a damper in your whole physical ability to do anything.”

 

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Watson hopes for breakthrough season

Linebacker Dekoda Watson (56) and cornerback Rashaan Melvin (28) chase down an onside kick during an offseason workout at One Buc Place.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

Linebacker Dekoda Watson (56) and cornerback Rashaan Melvin (28) chase down an onside kick during an offseason workout at One Buc Place.

 

Bucs linebacker Dekoda Watson always had a student-teacher relationship with former teammate Quincy Black.

So, it’s rather ironic that Black’s own career-threatening neck injury last season has provided Watson his best chance at a starting job, at strong-side linebacker. But if you thought the nature of the relationship had changed in Black’s absence, you’d be wrong.

It turns out Black is still actively helping Watson develop, even if he’s no longer in the same locker room. Released with an injury settlement in the spring, Black continues offering guidance to Watson as he tries to take the baton from Black – even though Black himself might never play again.

“Quincy is still being a leader as we speak,” Watson said today, Day 2 of Bucs minicamp. “He’s texted me plenty of times, telling me to take advantage of the opportunity. He’s trying to tell me some things to make sure that I’m ready this year. He’s still being that big brother to me. He’s still playing his role.”

It was a role Black willingly played for the first three years of Watson’s career. Black, a four-year starter, took a sincere interest in Watson after Watson was drafted in the seventh round from Florida State in 2010. …

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New deal for Bucs' WR Williams? 'It's very close'

Mike Williams has averaged 64 catches in his first three seasons and had a career-best 996 yards and nine touchdowns in 2012.

CHRIS ZUPPA | Times

Mike Williams has averaged 64 catches in his first three seasons and had a career-best 996 yards and nine touchdowns in 2012.

As Mike Williams fielded questions from reporters following a mandatory minicamp practice Wednesday, a Bucs’ teammate walked by and shouted one request.

“Pay the man,’’ he said.

And, in fact, it appears that Williams is closer to getting paid.

Negotiations on a new contract between the Bucs and Williams, which accelerated following free agency and the NFL draft, may produce an agreement within weeks if not days.

“All I can say about it is that it’s very close,’’ Williams said Wednesday.

Williams, selected in the fourth round in 2010, has averaged 64 catches in his first three seasons and had a career-best 996 yards and nine touchdowns in 2012. He is set to become a free agent at the end of the 2013 season.

Bucs general manager Mark Dominik would like to get a deal completed prior to training camp.

But for the Bucs, the contract extension would somewhat precedent-setting. While it would make good business sense to lock up Williams before he hits free agency, Dominik can expect a line outside his door when players such as linebacker Lavonte David and safety Mark Barron out-perform their rookie contracts. …

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Bucs sign QB Mike Glennon; entire rookie class now under contract

Mike Glennon signed a four-year contract with the Bucs.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Mike Glennon signed a four-year contract with the Bucs.

 

Bucs third-round draft choice Mike Glennon, a quarterback from North Carolina State, has signed a four-year contract.

The Bucs now have their entire six-man rookie class under contract well before the team reports for training camp in late July.

The 2011 collective bargaining agreement simplified the process of signing draft picks by establishing firm salary ranges based on where a player is picked. Details on the deal that Glennon signed aren’t yet available, but as the 73rd overall choice, his contract is likely slightly north of the one signed by last year’s pick at the same slot. Chargers safety Brandon Taylor, from LSU, signed a four-year, $2.743 million deal with a $643,876 signing bonus.

Glennon started 26 games at N.C. State, completing 60.4 percent of his attempts for 7,411 yards and 63 touchdowns.

 

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Video: Bucs wrap up offseason with minicamp

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Bucs beat writers Rick Stroud and Stephen F. Holder talk about position battles, Josh Freeman and newly-acquired Gabe Carimi during Day 1 of minicamp at One Buc Place.


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Bucs' Gabe Carimi debuts, says knee held him back with Bears

Gabe Carimi lined up as a right tackle today, during the Bucs’ first day of mandatory minicamp.

Getty Images

Gabe Carimi lined up as a right tackle today, during the Bucs’ first day of mandatory minicamp.

If Gabe Carimi is to be believed, he’ll be a much better player now that he’s further removed from a major knee injury suffered nearly two years ago.

That wasn’t the case last year, Carimi now admits.

In his first day with the Bucs after his trade to Tampa Bay on Sunday, Carimi said he skipped offseason workouts with the Bears to continue strengthening his knee in private workout sessions.

"I think it just set me back last year,” Carimi said. “I wasn't at full strength. I'm just looking forward to this year.

"I was just trying to get my knee right, trying to be the best I could be. It feels good.”

Carimi lined up as a right tackle today, during the Bucs’ first day of mandatory minicamp. But he won’t necessarily stay there, with his ability to play right guard attractive to the Bucs, too. The details will be sorted out later. But Carimi makes the Bucs’ line better regardless of where and how much he plays.

“He does bring position flexibility,” coach Greg Schiano said. “But you work all that stuff out (later) and you let them go play football and then you figure out where it all fits together. …

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Continuity should benefit Freeman and the Bucs

Entering his fifth season, Josh Freeman has played for two head coaches, in three offensive systems under three offensive coordinators and four quarterbacks coaches.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Entering his fifth season, Josh Freeman has played for two head coaches, in three offensive systems under three offensive coordinators and four quarterbacks coaches.

Josh Freeman has thrown footballs to a lot of different speed receivers, although not with one who goes 200 miles per hour on Sundays.

But there he was Tuesday following the first practice of the Bucs' mandatory minicamp, playing catch with NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne.

Freeman had no trouble adjusting to his new target. The only consistent thing about the career of the Bucs quarterback has been a lack of consistency. Entering his fifth season, Freeman has played for two head coaches, in three offensive systems under three offensive coordinators and four quarterbacks coaches.

It's no surprise that nine of the top 12 passers in the NFL last season had been with the same head coach and/or in the same system for at least five years. The exceptions were Peyton Manning, who brought his own offense to Denver from Indianapolis; and rookies Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson.

In his first season under offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan, Freeman set single-season club records in 2012 for passing yards (4,065) and touchdowns (27) while throwing 17 interceptions. But Year Two under Sullivan promises to be an even better one for Freeman and the Bucs offense. …

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Jeff Demps to skip Bucs' mandatory minicamp

The Bucs expect to have perfect attendance for this week’s mandatory minicamp, which gets underway Tuesday at One Buc Place.

Well, nearly perfect attendance, anyway.

The notable exception will be running back/return man Jeff Demps who, according to general manager Mark Dominik, has been excused from the three-day affair.

Demps, who was traded to the Bucs in the LeGarrette Blount deal in April, continues to train and compete on the track and field circuit, something the Bucs accepted when they acquired him.

Demps was not expected to spend any time with the Bucs this offseason, and he might not even be in attendance at the start of training camp depending on his track schedule.

Demps, a former University of Florida star, would like to play football this season but maintains that track and field is currently his priority.

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