Thursday, June 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Around the NFL

Vikings QB Josh Freeman has been accused of many things over the past few months — before and after his messy exit from the Bucs. • Whether it was missing a team photo and meetings — as well as many receivers — his reputation has taken quite a hit. • But NBC's Rodney Harrison saying Freeman faked a concussion to avoid playing tonight against the Packers? Come on. That's just ridiculous. • There's no doubt Freeman was horrific in his Vikings debut on Monday, going 20-for-53 (37.7 percent) against the Giants with 16 overthrows and an interception. Signed Oct. 7, Freeman looked like a player who needed more time to be ready. • But a day after Freeman was named the starter for this week, he was ruled out due to concussion-like symptoms. Harrison, a former Patriots safety, wasn't sold on Freeman's story, saying it "seems like a convenient excuse to get out of a situation."

"Maybe's he's looking around and saying, 'You know, maybe Greg Jennings isn't as good as I thought. Adrian Peterson is struggling, Heck, I just want out of this situation. I can't wait for the end of the season,' " Harrison said. "I played safety at a high level for a long time, and I was banging. And I never missed a game because of a concussion, so it just seems like an excuse to me."

First of all, making light of concussions isn't smart considering the $765 million settlement between the NFL and 4,000 former players dealing with the aftermath of head injuries. Then there's good old logic. Freeman wanted out of Tampa Bay, got a fresh start — and starting job — with the Vikings as well as a one-year, $2 million contract. He wanted a chance to prove his value and ability to be a franchise quarterback.

Freeman can't do that by standing on the sideline, making Harrison's comments head-scratching. Or as cbsspsorts.com columnist Gregg Doyel put it, "I believe Harrison said literally one of the dumbest things an intelligent, highly paid NFL analyst has ever said."

National Football Conference
SouthWLT%PFPAeastWLT%PFPANorthWLT%PFPAWestWLT%PFPA
New Orleans510.833161103Dallas430.571200155Green Bay420.667168127Seattle610.857191116
Carolina430.57117096Philadelphia340.429169196Detroit430.571186167San Francisco520.714176135
Atlanta240.333153157Washington240.333152184Chicago430.571213206St. Louis340.429156184
Tampa Bay070.000100163N.Y. Giants160.143126216Minnesota150.167132181Arizona340.429133161


American Football Conference
SouthWLT%PFPAeastWLT%PFPANorthWLT%PFPAWestWLT%PFPA
Indianapolis520.714187131New England520.714152127Cincinnati520.714148135Kansas City7001.00016981
Tennessee340.429145146N.Y. Jets430.571134162Baltimore340.429150148Denver610.857298197
Houston250.286122194Miami330.500135140Cleveland340.429131156San Diego430.571168144
Jacksonville070.00076222Buffalo340.429159178Pittsburgh240.333107132Oakland240.333105132



Power rankings

1. Broncos (6-1)

2. Seahawks (6-1)

3. Chiefs (7-0)

4. Saints (5-1)

5. Colts (5-2)

6. Patriots (5-2)

Upset special

Vikings over Packers

QB Christian Ponder gets his starting job back and makes a case to keep it in lifting the Vikings to a big win — with help from RB Adrian Peterson returning to form.

Who's hot?

Andy Dalton: Over the past two weeks, the maligned QB has thrown for more than 700 yards with six touchdowns in road wins over the Bills and Lions to put the Bengals in control of the AFC North.

Who's not?

Dolphins: After a surprising 3-0 start, the Dolphins have come back to earth, losing three straight, including 23-21 to Buffalo and former practice squad QB Thad Lewis last week. They've gone from first to last in the East, which is probably closer to where they should be.

High praise

The NFL is filled with big, athletic tight ends who are matchup nightmares from Tony Gonzalez to Antonio Gates to Jimmy Graham to Rob Gronkowski. Redskins rookie Jordan Reed might just be a rising star, if you ask ESPN's Ron Jaworski, who compared the former Gator to another one, Aaron Hernandez. Reed, a 6-foot-2, 243-pound third-round pick, had nine catches for 134 yards and a touchdown against Chicago last week. "The guy will be sensational," Jaworski said. "He's one of the guys that jumps off the tape at you. I like to use the word 'flash.' We saw a little bit of it earlier this season. But clearly against Chicago, I saw a lot more of it. This guy is going to scare the hell out of defenses."

Biggest hit

Rarely do you see punters on highlight reels. But the Colts' Pat McAfee found instant fame after drilling Broncos PR Trindon Holliday near the sideline last week. NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah called it his "favorite hit of the season," and Lions DT Ndamukong Suh gave him props. Unlike Suh, McAfee didn't get fined — just fame. "I don't think I've ever seen a kicker with this kind of hit!" NBC's Cris Collinsworth said on the broadcast. "Pat McAfee is going to be a legend among kickers everywhere." Monday, McAfee tweeted he was a "random" selection for a steroid test. "Don't know how anybody, at any level of football, tackles folks all the time," he tweeted. "I feel like I should ice my whole bod."

Numbers of the week

19 Career kick/punt returns for touchdowns by the Bears' Devin Hester; last week's against the Redskins tied the NFL record for non-offensive touchdowns set by Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders

11 Teams that have switched quarterbacks this season due to ineffectiveness or injuries

Quick reads

• Who would have thought the better team in New York would be the Jets? Coach Rex Ryan entered the season on the hot seat. But his team is 4-3, fresh off a win over the Patriots with a shot at winning the AFC East.

• As much as the NFL wants to expand its brand in London — announcing it will play three games there next season — it doesn't really sell the sport when you send over the 0-7 Jaguars. That's more like the old NFL Europe.

• Colts QB Andrew Luck outdueling predecessor Peyton Manning on a night the former Colts legend was honored made for great TV. It also will make for one heck of a rematch in the playoffs.

Information from Times wires was used in this report. Follow Joe Smith at @TBTimes_JSmith.

Comments
Jameis Winston suspension means Bucs will turn to Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB

Jameis Winston suspension means Bucs will turn to Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB

The news of Jameis Winston's suspension to start the upcoming season likely means that the Bucs will have veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick stepping in at quarterback for three crucial games.Fitzpatrick stepped in as a starter for three games last year when W...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Three-game suspension looms for Bucs QB Jameis Winston

Three-game suspension looms for Bucs QB Jameis Winston

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Updated: 2 hours ago
Next move is simple for the Bucs: Get rid of Jameis Winston

Next move is simple for the Bucs: Get rid of Jameis Winston

Trade him. Waive him. Cut him.Whatever.Just get rid of him.Jameis Winston should never play another game for the Tampa Bay Bucs.Plain and simple, he's a bad guy and the Bucs should have nothing more to do with him.He's already going to miss the first...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Timeline of investigations, suspensions and allegations involving Jameis Winston

Timeline of investigations, suspensions and allegations involving Jameis Winston

The NFL will suspend Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston at least three games without pay for violating the league's personal conduct policy. Winston's suspension could be increased if he fails to meet certain undisclosed requirements expected to be...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Rick Stroud weighs in on report about possible Jameis Winston suspension

Rick Stroud weighs in on report about possible Jameis Winston suspension

Tampa Bay Times beat reporter Rick Stroud isn't buying an ESPN radio report that any suspension levied against Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston by the NFL would stem from Winston's failure to report an alleged incident between him and a female Ub...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: When will we know about possible Jameis Winston suspension?

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: When will we know about possible Jameis Winston suspension?

Rick Stroud talks about when we will know about a possible Jameis Winston suspension and why DeSean Jackson hasn't been more productive with the Bucs on today's podcast.Plus, who might the Rays trade next? Will the Lightning make any b...
Published: 06/21/18
Report: Bucs QB Jameis Winston bracing for suspension from NFL

Report: Bucs QB Jameis Winston bracing for suspension from NFL

Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston could be suspended for up to three games  next season following the league's investigation into allegations he groped a female Uber driver in Arizona in 2016, a Tallahassee radio station reported.Jeff Cameron, a&#...
Published: 06/20/18
Zero Bucs players on NFL top 100 list for 2018

Zero Bucs players on NFL top 100 list for 2018

Just to preface this, the NFL Network's annual countdown of the league's top 100 players is a made-for-TV deal, good for summer offseason conversation but not carrying any huge amount of real significance.Having said that, it's worth noting that for ...
Published: 06/19/18
Bucs defensive end Will Gholston says ‘no excuse’ for disappointing 2017 season

Bucs defensive end Will Gholston says ‘no excuse’ for disappointing 2017 season

Will Gholston is painfully honest about a 2017 season that wasn't anything close to what he wanted it to be. Ask him about last year, and there are no parentheses in his world to soften what he remembers here."I just played (crappy), completely. That...
Published: 06/18/18
Ex-Bucs WR Lawrence Dawsey worked with team during OTAs

Ex-Bucs WR Lawrence Dawsey worked with team during OTAs

The Bucs had four extra coaches during organized team activities last month as part of the Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship, including former Tampa Bay receiver Lawrence Dawsey.Dawsey, 50, played for the Bucs from 1991-95, finishing his time ...
Published: 06/18/18