Eric Stokes is in his second year as the Bucs' director of college scouting, but much of his professional career was spent with the Seahawks, with two years as a player and another 12 moving up in the team's scouting department.
As Seattle prepares for Sunday's Super Bowl, Stokes was involved in the drafts that produced the team's defensive leaders, like cornerback Richard Sherman, safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor and linebacker K.J. Wright, as well as quarterback Russell Wilson. He took a few minutes Friday to talk about his time in Seattle and his proud involvement in helping bring together the NFC champions' roster ...
Q: You enjoyed your time in Seattle independent of the success the team has found in the past two years, but it has to be gratifying to see the way the Seahawks have come together, knowing you were able to play a role in that collection of talent. What are your best memories of those drafts? …Full Story
DANIEL WALLACE | Times
Dashon Goldson said he has not yet personally met with Lovie Smith but said he is excited about what he will bring to the Bucs.
Safety Dashon Goldson said he and other veteran players tried to provide input to coaches last season who rarely accepted it but believes the Bucs can be a top five defense under new head coach Lovie Smith.
“Me and Darrelle (Revis), we tried to do that last year,'' Goldson said Friday. "But those guys had to run the operation, those position coaches had to look up to the head man (Greg Schiano), so it was hard to get that started. But I think with this head coach, he’ll listen and I’ve already spoken to my position coach and he was willing to take advice about anything I had to say.
“I think we can be a top five defense. Easy. We’ve got a good line already, the linebacking corps is pretty good, the secondary is good. Some pieces will be added, I’m sure they will be.''
Goldson made the rounds on radio row at the Super Bowl media hotel in New York Friday afternoon. Gone was his trademark flowing dreadlocks, replaced by a close cropped hair cut.
"You like the new 'do?' he asked rhetorically. …Full Story
DANIEL WALLACE | Times
Lovie Smith said that left guard Carl Nicks has been at the facility almost daily rehabbing from a foot injury that forced him to miss almost all of last season.
Bucs coach Lovie Smith has been logging long hours at One Buc Place in his first month on the job, living in a nearby hotel while his family is still in Chicago.
"There's no 9-to-5," he quipped.
But having completed his staff, and found a general manager in Jason Licht, Smith said he's moved "full speed" ahead in evaluating his current roster. That includes meeting with his new players.
And while most players are away this offseason, Smith said that left guard Carl Nicks has been at the facility almost daily rehabbing from a foot injury that forced him to miss almost all of last season. Nicks, who had surgery in October to treat a MRSA staph infection suffered in the preseason, has made some progress, according to Smith.
"I have had a chance to talk with Carl, he's excited about the upcoming season," Smith said. "His rehab is going well. He's one of the guys that’s through here by daily, is working out getting ready to go. Carl has been a dominant football player in the league for a while and we’ve got to get him back out on the football field and that's what we're trying to do." …Full Story
Brian Urlacher, an eight-time Pro Bowler, has been out of football for a year and working for FoxSports1.
Bucs coach Lovie Smith confirmed Friday he's invited former Bears star linebacker Brian Urlacher to spend some time at training camp.
Urlacher, an eight-time Pro Bowler, has been out of football for a year and working for FoxSports1. Smith says that with Urlacher, who has experience in his system in Chicago, could be valuable to have around. And Urlacher is just one of many great players Smith has tapped into since taking over the job.
"Brian is a family member for life," Smith said. "I've had the priveledge to be around a lot of great players, any great player I've been around is always welcome wherever I am. We're trying to build something here football-wise, and I'm going to call on the Brian Urlachers of the world, and of course all our former Bucs around here. Derrick Brooks will tell you I've been in his ear quite a bit, got a chance to text with John Lynch yesterday... anytime you can have players around your current roster that have been through our system and know what it takes, it's a good thing. I will always be inviting any old player that I've been around."
Urlacher appeared to downplay his role with the Bucs earlier this week. …Full Story
Stephen Colbert, right, looks for Isaac Bruce, left, downfield as Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, center, pressures.
Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy helps prepare comedian Stephen Colbert for Super Bowl Sunday in this video from Comedy Central. Full Story
Times files (2002)
Former Bucs linebacker Derrick Brooks, left, and safety John Lynch, right.
Times' Buccaneers beat writer Rick Stroud and sports columnist Tom Jones discuss the nominations of Bucs' players Derrick Brooks and John Lynch, as well as former coach Tony Dungy, for the NFL's Pro Football Hall of Fame.Full Story
Devin Hester, who played for Lovie Smith in Chicago, is a free agent this offseason.
New Bucs special teams coordinator Kevin O'Dea spent the past three seasons with the Chiefs (2013) and Bears (2011-12).
At both places O'Dea had the luxury of a special returner in Devin Hester or Dexter McCluster.
And while O'Dea is still evaluating the current Tampa Bay roster, as well as rookie returner Eric Page, he said Wednesday it's a "high priority" to have a difference-maker in the return game.
"That's what we need," O'Dea said. "Maybe it’s not the returner. Maybe it is. But we’re looking for those special players who can come in and create that electric atmosphere. Good Lord willing, we’ll get a returner like that. Maybe we have him here. We haven’t gotten with our guys yet, so we don’t know that. I can only look at what in film was going on. I don’t know what schemes were being played. I don’t know what they were being taught and what they weren’t, so it’s not fair to everybody to say, ‘That guy’s here or he’s not.” I don’t know that yet, but we’re going to find out soon, though.” …Full Story
Bucs cornerback Darrelle Revis, who bounced back from a torn knee ligament in 2012 to return to the Pro Bowl in his first season in Tampa Bay, was honored Wednesday by The Sporting News as its Comeback Player of the Year.
The Bucs made a considerable investment in Revis, sending a 2013 first-round draft pick and a 2014 third-rounder to acquire him, then signing him to a six-year, $96-million contract, albeit one without any guaranteed money. Just last week, Revis made comments to the Times about playing under former Bucs coach Greg Schiano, saying the atmosophere was bad enough that many players didn't enjoy coming to One Buc Place.
Revis' honor is the first by TSN for a Bucs player since the 2008 season, when receiver Antonio Bryant earned the comeback award. No Bucs player has ever earned the comeback awards given by the Associated Press or the Pro Football Writers Association.Full Story
The Bucs made all their new assistant coaches available for the first time Wednesday afternoon, and there were plenty of different insights gleaned from them.
For example, while it's still early in the evaluation process for all of them, new quarterbacks coach Marcus Arroyo had a lot of praise for Bucs quarterback Mike Glennon.
"Obviously you're looking at the production, you're looking at the things he does in the pocket, looking at what kind of throw inventory he has, what kind of arm strength he has, what kind of accuracy short, what kind of accuracy long, how does he do on third down, how does he do in critical situations, how does he do when he's behind?" Arroyo said. "The things that stick out in those situations that you're seeing on tape are all promising.
"He stands in the pocket well, he delivers the ball. He's got a lot of inventory of passes. He can throw, has got a strong arm. He seems cerebral. I can go on." …Full Story
Dennis Hickey, who spent the last 18 seasons with the Bucs, most recently as the team's director of player personnel, has been hired as the new general manager of the Miami Dolphins, the team confirmed Sunday morning.
Hickey, who wasn't among the candidates reportedly interviewed for the Bucs' general manager opening, interviewed for a second time with Miami on Saturday and got the job over Titans executive Lake Dawson, Browns executive Ray Farmer and in-house candidate Brian Gaine.
Hickey started with the Bucs as a pro personnel assistant in 1996-97, then worked in scouting from 1998-2010, including six years as the team's director of college scouting. He was part of the team's Super Bowl championship team after the 2002 season. In 2011, he was promoted to director of player personnel, serving as the No. 2 to general manager Mark Dominik, who was fired last month after a 28-52 record in his five years. …Full Story
TAMPA -- New Bucs general manager Jason Licht has worked with the likes of Don Shula, Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll, but in trying to explain his admiration of Bucs coach Lovie Smith this week, he compared him to one of his biggest and earliest football influences.
"He reminds me, just pulling from my past, of Tom Osborne," Licht said. "Just a man of integrity, honestly. He's not going to BS you, he's going to tell you like it is. He's got a presence about him that's unlike most people."
Licht was on Nebraska's football team from 1989-91 as a walk-on, lettering one year as a guard in 1991. Osborne, 76, spent 34 years coaching at Nebraska, and until this week, he could not remember one of his former players becoming an NFL general manager.
"He was a guy who worked hard, great work ethic," Osborne said by phone Friday. "Good integrity, intelligent guy. All the qualities we saw in him as a player have served him well in football. He's obviously done well in the NFL, and this is quite an achievement for Jason." …Full Story
TAMPA -- The father-and-son aspect of the new Bucs coaching staff -- already in place with head coach Lovie Smith's son Mikal on board as safeties coach -- is going to another level.
Quinn Tedford, the younger son of offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford, and Miles Smith, the youngest of Lovie's three sons, will be interns on the Bucs coaching staff, the team confirmed Thursday night.
Tedford was a backup receiver on his father's Cal teams from 2008-11, playing in four games. He spent last season as an offensive quality control coach at Cal-Davis, where several Cal assistants coached last year after Jeff Tedford was fired at Cal. Two others -- Ben Steele and Matt Wiegand -- are also on the Bucs staff.
Miles Smith, who was in Mobile at the Senior Bowl this week with brothers Mikal and Matt (who is Lovie's agent), will work on the defensive side, while Tedford will be on offense.
There are other father-son combos in the NFL -- Redskins coach Mike Shanahan's son Kyle was his offensive coordinator in 2013, and Patriots coach Bill Belichick (who once worked with his father Steve) has his son Stephen on staff as a coaching assistant.Full Story
WILL VRAGOVIC | Times
Jason Licht and his wife, Blair, with their three children after Licht was announced as the fifth general manager in franchise history.
TAMPA -- In 19 years, Jason Licht has steadily moved up the NFL ranks, from area scout to national scout to personnel director to vice president and finally, now, general manager with the Bucs.
But at the same time, he's still an evaluator, plain and simple.
"I'm a meathead that likes to watch football players," Licht said, speaking to reporters Thursday afternoon after being announced as the GM and football partner to new head coach Lovie Smith. "I'm not going to try to be something I'm not."
The man tasked with building a roster that can lead the Bucs back to the playoffs and the national relevance that Smith talked about has a humble background in football, joining the Nebraska football team as a walk-on in 1989 and lettering for one season as an offensive guard before finishing his college career at nearby Nebraska Wesleyan.
Licht, introduced with his wife Blair and their three young children, has worked with some of the most successful coaches in the NFL -- from Don Shula to Pete Carroll to Bill Belichick and Andy Reid -- and the Bucs were impressed that twice he returned to teams he had left years earlier for promotions elsewhere. …Full Story
WILL VRAGOVIC | Times
Bryan, left, and Joel Glazer, right, stand with head coach Lovie Smith, second from left, and Jason Licht, second from right.
TAMPA -- New Bucs general manager Jason Licht said he will initially keep the team's personnel staff in place, giving them a chance to make a case to him for why they should continue with the team in the longterm.
"It's a really small fraternity. I know everybody here. I've had some kind of dealing with them at some point, whether I worked with them or have been on the road with them," he said. "You never know until you work with somebody. I'm going to give them the opportunity to show me they will fit in what we're doing and if I fit for them."
Licht said he personally benefited from such a setup -- he had the chance to stay with the Patriots after Pete Carroll was fired in 1999, earning a job and later promotions from Bill Belichick and Scott Pioli.
"They kept me and we meshed and I ended up getting promoted a couple of times," he said. "If it weren't for that opportunity, I might not be here today. I want to give everybody an opportunity." …Full Story
WILL VRAGOVIC | Times
Jason Licht was in Tampa with the Cardinals in September when Mike Glennon made his first career start against Arizona in a 13-10 loss.
TAMPA -- It's early to read too much into Bucs general manager Jason Licht's initial evaluation of quarterback Mike Glennon, but he addressed the team's 2013 starter in his introduction Thursday afternoon.
"He's obviously a big guy, he's a deceptive athlete, he's an accurate passer and he's very smart," Licht said. "I got a chance to meet him yesterday morning. Smart players usually come around when the head coach and general manager are hired. I have a great impression of him. I think he's got a bright future. There (will be) competition in place, at every level on this football team, but we see a bright future for Mike Glennon."
Licht was in Tampa with the Cardinals in September when Glennon made his first career start against Arizona in a 13-10 loss, and he said he scouted him leading up to last year's draft as well.
Before being asked about Glennon specifically, Licht spoke about the team having a strong nucleus of "building blocks ... core players I'm excited about," naming defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, linebacker Lavonte David, cornerback Darrelle Revis, safety Dashon Goldson and running back Doug Martin.
Lots more to come from Thursday's introduction ...Full Story