Monday, June 18, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Around the NFL

Colts quarterback Andrew Luck pulled off some Tom Brady-like comebacks. • Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III stole the show on highlight reels. • As the Nos. 1 and 2 picks in the draft, respectively, the rookies have led their franchises to turnaround seasons and potential playoff berths. • But you can make a strong case for another QB when it comes to the rookie of the year. • That would be Seattle's Russell Wilson, the lesser-known third-round pick out of Wisconsin who leads the red-hot Seahawks into a prime-time Puget Sound showdown tonight with the 49ers. • Wilson, who had to beat out high-priced free agent Matt Flynn in the preseason, has impressed with his mobility and intangibles. He has thrown for more touchdowns — and has a better quarterback rating — than Luck. And though he has fewer rushing yards than Griffin, unlike Griffin, he has avoided injuries. • "If it wasn't for RG3, Russell Wilson would actually have played the best out of any rookie quarterback: completion percentage, passer rating, touchdown-to-interception ratio," NFL Network analyst LaDainian Tomlinson said on SiriusXM radio. "What he has done in getting this team to this point is really remarkable. And so really and truly, at this time, I think Russell Wilson is your rookie of the year." • Said CBS analyst Rich Gannon: "He has been very special." • Tonight could be a major showcase for Wilson and the Seahawks, who have won five of six and scored a combined 108 points over the past two weeks. Seattle is 6-0 at home, and with a win tonight, it clinches a playoff berth and keeps its division title hopes alive. It's an intriguing matchup with two coaches, Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll, who feuded in college (Stanford and USC, respectively). There are two talented young quarterbacks, Wilson and Colin Kaepernick, and two top-five defenses. • "We're fighting for a championship," Carroll said. "That's all I could ever ask for. We've got a chance to do something special."

Fab five

1. Broncos 2. 49ers

3. Patriots 4. Texans

5. Falcons

Fighting for Flacco

You think Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman is under fire? Just look at Ravens QB Joe Flacco, left. Not long ago, it seemed like a slam dunk that Flacco, who can become a free agent after this season, would get a long-term deal. Coach John Harbaugh said after the opener, when Flacco threw for 299 yards and two touchdowns in a 44-13 win over the Bengals: "Pay him whatever he asks for." But with the Ravens on a three-game losing streak, Flacco has become a target for criticism and doubters (despite his six touchdowns and three interceptions). Clark Judge of cbssports.com, however, says the Ravens will keep him for one reason: He wins. Flacco has led Baltimore to the playoffs in each of his first five season as well as two AFC title games. Writes Judge: "The Ravens ran a lot of guys through the door at quarterback, and only one stuck. You're looking at him, people, and you should be looking at him for a long, long time."

Boo birds

The Bears, apparently, aren't too high on the home crowd booing them after last week's loss to the Packers. "I know there are a lot of experts in the media, a bunch of smart guys out there who know exactly what they're talking about all the time," linebacker Brian Urlacher, above, said. "They don't know what they're talking about. The only team in our division that gets booed at home is us. It's incredible to me. Believe it. Don't believe it. We don't care." Said linebacker Lance Briggs: "I've been here for a long time, too, and I've seen a lot of boos; for a lot of the wrong reasons. Nobody on any team that I've ever been on gets booed more at home than here in Chicago."

Times wires contributed to this report. Joe Smith can be reached at [email protected]

Best bet

Giants (8-6) over Ravens (9-5)

The defending champions looked bad in a blowout loss at Atlanta last week but are in a must-win situation in a crowded NFC East.

Tough luck Tebow

Remember all the back-page headlines and nonstop ESPN coverage Tim Tebow received during training camp? Well, with the Jets benching struggling quarterback Mark Sanchez and bypassing the ex-Gator for Greg McElroy, there are reports they will trade or release Tebow after the season. Acquired from Denver as the league's most popular backup and a wildcat threat, the Tebow trade "hasn't panned out to my expectations and, maybe, to Tim's either," coach Rex Ryan said. Tebow has won a Heisman, spurred several fourth-quarter rallies in the NFL and led the Broncos to an unforgettable playoff win. But some believe he will never again be an NFL starting quarterback.

Best news of the week

Colts coach Chuck Pagano, left, who has inspired many during his battle with leukemia, is expected to return to work Monday, according to the Indianapolis Star. With his leukemia in remission, Pagano, 52, can resume full duties, and he'll likely take over a playoff team. (The Colts can clinch a berth with a win over the Chiefs today.) Buoyed by Pagano's "ChuckStrong" movement, Indianapolis has been one of the league's biggest surprises, going 8-3 under interim coach Bruce Arians. Said Arians: "Hopefully, we can get this victory and secure our playoff spot and turn it back over to Chuck."

   
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Bucs journal: O.J. Howard poised to take off?

Bucs journal: O.J. Howard poised to take off?

TAMPA — There's always a lot of attention on the rookie class this time of year, rightfully so. There's a reason the Bucs focused on defense, and DT Vita Vea, CBs M.J. Stewart, Carlton Davis and S Justin Whitehead all look like they could have ...
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Ex-Buc Kellen Winslow pleads not guilty to kidnapping, rape charges

Ex-Buc Kellen Winslow pleads not guilty to kidnapping, rape charges

Times wiresVISTA, Calif. – Former Bucs and Hurricanes tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. was jailed without bail Friday after pleading not guilty to nine counts of kidnapping, rape and other charges.If convicted on all counts, Winslow, 34, could face...
Published: 06/15/18
Bucs still don’t know when Jameis Winston will throw another pass that matters

Bucs still don’t know when Jameis Winston will throw another pass that matters

TAMPA — The last pass thrown by Jameis Winston in a regular-season game was his best. The perfectly arced, 39-yard strike to Chris Godwin for a touchdown with nine seconds left gave the Bucs a 31-24 win over New Orleans at Raymond James Stadium...
Published: 06/15/18
Bucs busy on next Ray-Jay renovation with East Stadium Club

Bucs busy on next Ray-Jay renovation with East Stadium Club

The first Bucs home game of the 2018 season is still three months off, but the franchise is busy getting Raymond James Stadium ready with the fourth phase of its $160 million renovation, highlighted by a new East Stadium Club.Construction continues t...
Published: 06/15/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Gerald McCoy sounds off

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Gerald McCoy sounds off

The Bucs wrap up minicamp as Gerald McCoy sounds off on the team getting help for him, defensive line coach Brentson Buckner yelling at the veteran defensive tackle and advice for the young players who now have five weeks off before training camp.Plu...
Published: 06/15/18
Gerald McCoy: ‘Stop saying Gerald got help. No, the Bucs got help’

Gerald McCoy: ‘Stop saying Gerald got help. No, the Bucs got help’

TAMPA — On the last day of minicamp, DT Gerald McCoy made it clear that the new additions to the defensive line are what the entire team needed, not just himself."It's not about me. It's about the team," McCoy said of the addition of five new l...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18
Bucs hit summer break with optimism, eager for training camp

Bucs hit summer break with optimism, eager for training camp

TAMPA — This week's three-day minicamp was the final push in the Bucs' offseason, with about six weeks now until the team reconvenes in late July for training camp and the real preamble to the 2018 season.So what, if anything, can be gleaned fr...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18
Maybe 2018 is the year the Bucs take that step forward

Maybe 2018 is the year the Bucs take that step forward

TAMPA — The Bucs wrapped up a three-day minicamp on Thursday.“I’m going on vacation,’’ Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said.The next time we see the Bucs will be in five weeks. Just around the corner. That’s when, official...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18
Ex-Buc Kellen Winslow arrested on suspicion of rape, kidnapping

Ex-Buc Kellen Winslow arrested on suspicion of rape, kidnapping

Times wiresSAN DIEGO – Former Bucs and Hurricanes tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. was arrested Thursday on suspicion of multiple sex-crimes-related charges, including two counts of rape, the San Diego County Sheriff's Department said.The departmen...
Published: 06/14/18
Sealed and delivered: Bucs RB Ronald Jones signs rookie contract

Sealed and delivered: Bucs RB Ronald Jones signs rookie contract

The Bucs' 2018 draft class is now all in the fold, with running back Ronald Jones, second-rounder from USC, signing his rookie deal Thursday.Jones, who won't turn 21 until August after the Bucs go to training camp, was the last of Tampa Bay's eight d...
Published: 06/14/18