WILL VRAGOVIC | Times
Doug Martin announced on Twitter that he's been fully cleared by doctors after missing much of last season with a torn labrum in his left shoulder.
The Bucs' 2014 season opener is still five months off, but the team got good news Monday as running back Doug Martin announced on Twitter that he's been fully cleared by doctors after missing much of last season with a torn labrum in his left shoulder.
"CLEARED!!!!" he wrote to more than 50,000 followers on Twitter. "Excited to be back y'all!!"
Martin had surgery Nov. 15, one week after he was placed on injured reserve to end his season after just six games. After a stellar rookie season in which he rushed for 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns, Martin was limited to 456 and one score in 2013. The team then lost rookie Mike James to injury and finished the year with Bobby Rainey -- signed off waivers from Cleveland -- as its primary ballcarrier, and all three backs rushed for at least 150 yards in a game and will return healthy for 2014.
The Times' Rick Stroud reported Friday that Martin was expecting Monday's good news, and coach Lovie Smith said last week that while he likes the depth he has at running back, expect to see plenty of Martin this fall. …Full Story
Count the Bucs' Lovie Smith among the NFL head coaches who was impressed by what he saw from Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel while attending his pro day workout Thursday in College Station, Texas.
"Johnny had a good workout,'' Smith said Friday. "You know, the same way he's played throughout his college career. He's a great football player. He almost had a flawless workout. And I know it's choreographed and all that. But he had to complete passes and he was sharp yesterday. You saw the things that made him a Heisman Trophy winner.''
The Bucs own the No. 7 pick in May's NFL draft. Manziel could be gone by the time Tampa Bay makes its first pick, but Smith says he has had discussions with general manager Jason Licht about trading up.
""We like it where we're at,'' Smith said. "Love it. We'd like to be up a little bit further but we could get a good player back a little bit later. We have a lot of options. We might move up. Jason and I have talked about that or going back. But if we stay at our seventh pick, we're going to get a good player.''Full Story
Bucs coach Lovie Smith has seen Eagles free agent receiver DeSean Jackson make plays against his team in the passing and return game.
For that reason, Smith and general manager Jason Licht said they will consider Jackson but emphasized he'd have to be the right fit on and off the field.
"I've had a chance to be on the other side of the field and have watched him make a lot of great plays,'' Smith said. "He's a great football player. Of course, we look at everyone we think can help us win.''
But Licht was less enthusiastic
"He'd have to be the right fit on and off the field,'' Licht said. "But we're looking at everybody.
"I don't want to dismiss him right away but we're looking at a bunch of other players, too.''
Jackson was released by the Eagles Friday shortly after reports surfaced about his possible association with gang members.Full Story
Bucs receiver Mike Williams has been approved for a misdemeanor intervention program that will allow charges of trespass and criminal mischief to be dropped if he completes what is required.
Williams, 26, wasn't in court Thursday, and the details of the program may not be determined for another month. Typically, an MIP agreement involves a short probationary period and can include community service or anger-management counseling.
"I think he's happy to get this behind him," said attorney Stephen Romine. "He's looking forward to preparing for the upcoming season and putting this attention behind him. The only attention he'll be getting will be for his performance (on the field)."
Williams' charges stemmed from a December incident with his girlfriend at the time, Gabrielle Edwards. Romine said he was trying to get valuables from her home -- even had his mother with him at the time -- but in doing so had banged on the front door hard enough to knock it off its hinges. Williams had paid for the damages on the scene, and Romine said police arrived but did not make an arrest. …Full Story
Louis Murphy is on his fourth team in as many seasons, having played for the Raiders (2009-11), Panthers (2012) and Giants (2013).
The Bucs have another homecoming to announce, as former Lakewood and Gators receiver Louis Murphy was signed to a one-year contract Wednesday, helping the team's depth in the passing game.
Murphy, 26, is on his fourth team in as many seasons, having played for the Raiders (2009-11), Panthers (2012) and Giants (2013). The former fourth-round draft pick had four touchdowns as a rookie with Oakland in 2009, but has just four in four seasons since -- he finished with six catches for 37 yards and a touchdown with the Giants last season.
Murphy, who had visited the Bucs and Bengals, gives the team a veteran to complement starters Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams, and the team is still likely to use a draft pick on a receiver in May. Tiquan Underwood, who stepped up with four touchdowns after Williams was injured last season, signed a free-agent deal with the Panthers.
Murphy, 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, has totaled 121 catches for 1,744 yards in his NFL career. He is the second Bucs signing of a former local high school and college star in the past week, following cornerback Mike Jenkins, who played at Bradenton Southeast and at USF.Full Story
DANIEL WALLACE | Times
Gerald McCoy, who led the Bucs with 9.5 sacks and was named to his second straight Pro Bowl, is in the final season of the 5-year, $55-million contract he signed as a rookie in 2010.
Extending the contract of All Pro defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is a priority, Bucs coach Lovie Smith said Wednesday.
McCoy, who led the Bucs with 9.5 sacks and was named to his second straight Pro Bowl, is in the final season of the 5-year, $55-million contract he signed as a rookie in 2010.
“That is definitely a priority,'' Smith said at the NFL owner's meetings Wednesday. "He’s a guy we definitely want around for awhile to say the least.
“I think it’s very important. In an ideal situation, you do a great job of drafting players and then you reward your players who have come up through the system and done it the right way.''
McCoy, who was the third overall pick in 2010 from Oklahoma, struggled with injuries his first two NFL seasons. But has been among the league's most dominant defensive tackles the past two years, posting 14.5 sacks and 80 tackles while earning back-to-back Pro Bowl selections.
Smith called McCoy "as good of an interior defensive lineman as there is in the game.'' …Full Story
Lovie Smith is on his way to Texas for Thursday's pro day for Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, pictured.
Bucs coach Lovie Smith, speaking to reporters for more than an hour Wednesday morning at the NFL owners meetings in Orlando, reiterated that all positions are on the table for the No. 7 overall pick in May's NFL Draft, but he's on his way to Texas for Thursday's pro day for Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel.
"I had time to watch quite a few games, had a chance to watch him a lot," Smith said. "To be able to talk to people that you trust that know each player, you use every tool you can to make an evaluation, not just on that player but all players. I want to see how he handles a different environment. He's played in front of big crowds, but he hasn't had to perform on one day like ... this is a big day for him coming up."
Smith and general manager Jason Licht attended UCF quarterback Blake Bortles' pro day last week and saw "a guy with a lot of potential, poise ... who has a bright future ahead of him." Smith was asked about Manziel's ability to translate his success at the next level and he seemed optimistic. …Full Story
CHRIS ZUPPA | Times
Lovie Smith said Wednesday he will withhold further comment about Mike Williams, pictured, until he has a face-to-face meeting with Williams.
The bloody stabbing incident at Mike Williams' Avila home that sent him to the hospital and his brother to jail won't also cost the Bucs receiver his job.
But coach Lovie Smith said Wednesday he will withhold further comment until he has a face-to-face meeting with Williams, whose account of what happened during the incident at his home Sunday night differs from sworn statements and evidence collected by police.
“I have communicated with Mike,'' Smith said. "I have some information that I have to go on right now. And that information, I know that there was an incident at the home. Now, I haven’t had a chance to talk to everybody there. I haven’t done that type of research. We have time to do that. …Full Story
They have had four head coaches and three general managers in seven years, not a single playoff appearance, a 37-59 record (from 2008-13) and an entire draft class disappear. It’s ‘unacceptable,’ Bucs co-chairman Joel Glazer said Tuesday from the NFL owner’s meetings.
"And when you’ve had the results we’ve had the last few years, it’s not only unacceptable, it’s gut wrenching. It’s sickening. It’s a lot of different things you just don’t enjoy, just like our fans don’t enjoy it.’’
The only constant for the Bucs has been change and this year might bring the most dramatic transformation in club history, from new uniforms to coach Lovie Smith, general manager Jason Licht and 12 free agents (and counting).
So what as been the reason for such failure for the Glazer family which owns the Bucs and won the Lombardi Trophy in the 2002 season? …Full Story
New details emerged from the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office investigation into Sunday's stabbing of Bucs receiver Mike Williams, whose brother, Eric Baylor, remains in jail Tuesday and faces a felony charge of aggravated battery/domestic violence.
Williams had initially told police the stabbing to his left thigh was accidental and the result of horseplay, but the HCSO "probable cause statement" tells a different story after police talked with several witnesses and took evidence from the scene.
Baylor and Williams "became involved in a physical altercation," the report states, during which "(Baylor) obtained a knife and intentionally stabbed (Williams) in the anterior portion of his left thigh near the knee. The victim suffered a puncture wound and was taken by ambulance to the hospital where stitches were required to close the wound."
The report goes on to say that "witnesses at the scene testified and observed the defendant with the knife during the fight."
Baylor was being held on $1,000 bond on Tuesday afternoon, nearly six hours after a judge set his bond. He turned himself into police at 10 p.m. Monday night, 29 hours after the original 911 call to Williams' home in Avila.Full Story
ORLANDO -- Bucs receiver Mike Williams was the victim Sunday night in the stabbing that sent him to the hospital and had his brother in jail Tuesday morning and facing a felony charge of aggravated battery.
But Bucs co-chairman Joel Glazer, speaking with the media at the NFL owners meetings, said the team is continuing to investigate what happened Sunday and doesn't like the continued distractions Williams has caused with off-field problems this offseason.
"It's one of those things that's ongoing. It's not something we'd like to be part of the organization," Glazer said. "It distracts from the team and the positive things we're doing. It's something we're monitoring and getting more information. We'll see where it all goes."
Glazer said the team's reputation within the Tampa community is very important, and a few actions can take away from the positive deeds done by most Bucs players. …Full Story
Bucs fans are still getting used to the impressive offseason overhaul taking place in the last two weeks, and now they'll have to get adjusted to new players wearing familiar jersey numbers this fall.
Newly signed cornerback Mike Jenkins will be wearing No. 24 for the Bucs -- at least he didn't have to pay for the number, the way Darrelle Revis did in giving $50,000 to Mark Barron last summer to convince him to switch to his current No. 23. And the No. 75 worn by offensive guard Davin Joseph for the last eight years now belongs to free-agent signee Oniel Cousins, who will likely be a backup interior lineman this fall.
Bucs defensive end Daniel Te'o-Nesheim remains unsigned as an unrestricted free agent, but the team has given his No. 50 jersey to new linebacker Dane Fletcher. New center Evan Dietrich-Smith has the No. 62 worn last year by Ted Larsen, who signed with Arizona. Other new additions? Long-snapper Jeremy Cain will wear No. 44, tight end Steve Maneri No. 87 and linebacker Damaso Munoz No. 46. …Full Story
Bucs quarterback Mike Glennon, who started 13 games and threw for 19 touchdowns as a rookie last season, is behind veteran Josh McCown now in Tampa Bay, but he has the consolation of earning the largest performance-based pay supplement of any NFL quarterback in 2013: $183,209.
The league's performance-based pay supplement -- which is a deferred payment players receive in 2016 -- is intended to reward players whose playing time was more than anticipated by their salary.
Glennon's bonus was more than Seattle's Russell Wilson ($169,141) or Philadelphia's Nick Foles ($147,297) earned, again noting that the supplement is for work relative to expectation.
Nickel defensive back Leonard Johnson earned the highest bonus of any Bucs player at $208,864, edging undrafted rookie tight end Tim Wright ($200,592) for the team lead. Glennon, rookie defensive tackle Akeem Spence ($181,593) and linebacker Lavonte David ($180,190) rounded out the top five for Tampa Bay. You can see the entire list for the league here -- each team gets $3.46 million, which does not count toward the salary cap.Full Story
The NFL owners meetings continue in Orlando, but the Times' Dan Sullivan has an update from Tampa, where a judge on Tuesday morning set bond at $1,000 for Eric Baylor, the brother of Bucs WR Mike Williams, accused of stabbing his brother in the thigh on Sunday night.
Baylor, 23, is facing a felony charge of aggravated battery/domestic violence and was also ordered to have no contact with Williams or any other witnesses to Sunday's incident. Here's the full story from Sullivan.Full Story
The Bucs raided the Bengals' roster a little during free agency, signing defensive end Michael Johnson, left tackle Anthony Collins and Seahawks defensive tackle Clinton McDonald, who originally was drafted by the Bengals.
Bengals coach Marvin Lewis was positive in his assessment of each player.
Of Johnson, who had 11 1/2 sacks in 2012 and 3.5 sacks in 2013, he said, "From the time I first met Michael in Mobile, Ala., has really gone about things the way you want him to do it. He’s a stellar person all the way through.''
Of Collins, who was never a full-time starter but took over for seven games at left tackle last season, Lewis said, "Anthony didn’t get an opportunity to play quite as much but was always ready to play and any time he had an opportunity to go in, he did a great job for us. And he’s really matured over time from a guy who had a little chip on his shoulder to getting the opportunity and always making good on it.
"You’ve got to be happy for both players.''
McDonald was traded at the start of the 2011 season to the Seahawks. He had 5.5 sacks last year.
“McDonald is the salt of the earth,'' Lewis said. …Full Story