Monday, February 19, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

5 things to watch in Bucs-Dolphins game

More offense

Left tackle Donald Penn believes the offense has had a great training camp. It has looked good in practice, making some big plays, and is primed to be a force.

But in the first two preseason games, the first-team offense was missing in action. Quarterback Josh Freeman played just four series, going 6-for-10 and getting sacked four times. Receivers Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson have one touchdown between them. Their snaps have been limited but so have their first downs.

That's why Penn is so excited for tonight's game against the Dolphins. The starters are expected to get their most extensive action to date in a dress rehearsal of sorts for the regular season.

"We've been doing good, but practice doesn't count," Penn said. "We've got to do it in games, and that's why it's very important and I'm excited about (tonight). We'll get our opportunity to go out there and really, really show you guys what we've been working on."

Just for kicks

The team signed veteran kicker Rian Lindell this week partly to take some of the load off rookie Derek Dimke, who has been the primary kicker with veteran Lawrence Tynes (toe) sidelined by a serious staph infection. Lindell, 36, is likely to make his Bucs debut tonight. "We've seen Derek kick quite a bit, and we've seen (Lindell) over the years kick quite a bit," coach Greg Schiano said. "I'd like to see (Lindell) in a Bucs uniform do it." Lindell believes he still has a lot left in the tank and is excited for the chance. "At this point in my career, I just want to hit a good ball," he said. "And I'm fortunate the Buccaneers gave me an opportunity."

Changing of the guard

Left guard Carl Nicks (left foot) also is out indefinitely because of a staph infection. Right guard Davin Joseph, recovering from a torn patellar tendon that kept him out last season, will likely be limited, if he plays at all tonight. So it will be interesting to watch who plays guard in a potential audition in case either isn't ready for Week 1.

Jeremy Zuttah is versatile, but it appears the team would like to keep him at center. Ted Larsen is an option, as is Mike Remmers, who started at guard in New England. Tackle Gabe Carimi has gotten reps at guard in practice, so keep an eye on him, as well as Cody Wallace and Jamon Meredith.

"We have a lot of guys that can step up," left tackle Donald Penn said. "I think we have some of the best depth in the NFL on the offensive line."

Keeping stock

With Luke Stocker limited early in camp due to a calf injury, it has hurt his ability to take charge in what has been his best opportunity to become the starting tight end. Coach Greg Schiano said that with Stocker not getting to show enough, the team might have to go to a committee approach. Stocker said he is healthy now but needs to "get the rust off" with plays in pads, especially for blocking, making tonight a "really big game for me. … Obviously I haven't gotten a lot of reps in training camp. … So this is going to be my evaluation. I'm approaching it like it's a real game, like it counts."

In passing

The Bucs had one sack in their first two preseason games, and coach Greg Schiano would like to see more out of their pass rush against the Dolphins. "I think we've gotten better as camp has gone on," he said. "These guys are getting a better understanding and feel, not only for what we're asking them to do but for each other. You call some things in the pass rush, and you also have a lot of things that happen naturally. And it's a sense of feeling the other defender."

BUCS AT DOLPHINS

   
Comments
Video: Bucs QB Ryan Fitzpatrick gives advice to Little Leaguers

Video: Bucs QB Ryan Fitzpatrick gives advice to Little Leaguers

Ryan Fitzpatrick is an unrestricted free agent, and his future with the Bucs remains uncertain. But the veteran quarterback is still very much here in Tampa and still sharing his wisdom with younger athletes.In this case, they're much younger —...
Updated: 7 minutes ago
Jameis Winston is about to get a big pay raise. It will cost the Bucs more than money

Jameis Winston is about to get a big pay raise. It will cost the Bucs more than money

TAMPA – Jameis Winston is heading for a big payday with the Bucs. He's played well enough to make that an easy decision.But what impact will that have on the type of players they surround him with?The Bucs are expected to exercise the fifth-yea...
Published: 02/16/18
Bucs interview Brentson Buckner for defensive line job

Bucs interview Brentson Buckner for defensive line job

The Bucs continue to move quickly with the defensive line opening on Dirk Koetter's coaching staff, interviewing former Cardinals assistant Brentson Buckner.Buckner, 46, spent the last five years as Arizona's defensive line coach, leading the unit to...
Published: 02/16/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Jameis Winston investigation, Lightning trade possibilities, more

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Jameis Winston investigation, Lightning trade possibilities, more

It’s a Mailbag Friday as Rick Stroud answers your questions, including what will happen with the Jameis Winston investigation, who should the Bucs sign in free agency and would Warren Sapp make a good defensive line coach?Also, who will win more game...
Published: 02/16/18
Kevin Pamphile on Bucs’ O-line: ‘We’re not far from breaking through’

Kevin Pamphile on Bucs’ O-line: ‘We’re not far from breaking through’

Free agency is less than a month away, and the Bucs have several decisions to make about unrestricted free agents from their 2017 squad. One is Kevin Pamphile, who started all but one game at left guard last season but still split the job with backup...
Published: 02/16/18
Jameis Winston’s ‘Eat a W’ ritual lives on at Florida State

Jameis Winston’s ‘Eat a W’ ritual lives on at Florida State

Jameis Winston's pregame "Eat a 'W'" speech didn't go over too well the last time he gave it in front of the cameras and teammates.Before the Bucs-Saints game in New Orleans on Nov. 5, Winston formed a "W" with the fingers on his right hand and proce...
Published: 02/15/18
Browsing the Bucs’ needs and possible free-agent answers

Browsing the Bucs’ needs and possible free-agent answers

No sooner had the Bucs 5-11 season ended than coach Dirk Koetter identified the two areas his team needed to improve for 2018."I think we were 3-7 in one score games. You're going to have a hard time getting where you want to go when you win 30 perce...
Published: 02/15/18
Free agency preview: Brate, Humphries lead Bucs’ restricted free agents

Free agency preview: Brate, Humphries lead Bucs’ restricted free agents

NFL free agency is now just a month away, and as we begin the process of previewing the 2018 free agent class, we'll start with a less prominent part that is still relevant for the Bucs this year: restricted free agents.Unrestricted free agents have ...
Published: 02/14/18
Derrick Brooks to sign autographs at sub shop for charity

Derrick Brooks to sign autographs at sub shop for charity

A Tampa sub shop is offering fans a deal to help raise funds for former Bucs linebacker and Pro Football Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks' charity efforts.From Feb. 21 to Feb. 25 next week, the Jersey Mike's shop at 14839 North Dale Mabry Highway (inters...
Published: 02/13/18
The Bucs pass rush was so bad, Dirk Koetter sacked his friend

The Bucs pass rush was so bad, Dirk Koetter sacked his friend

TAMPA – It was friendly fire. The decision by Bucs coach Dirk Koetter to terminate a guy he's been buddies with for nearly 40 years was not an easy one. But defensive line coach Jay Hayes was let go last Friday, an apparent fall guy for the 5-1...
Published: 02/12/18
Updated: 02/13/18