Saturday, December 16, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs can count on defense doing its part

TAMPA

On the first play of Friday's 16-10 preseason loss to Jacksonville, Bucs DT Gerald McCoy knifed into the backfield and dumped RB Jordan Todman for a 5-yard loss.

Two plays later, on third and 10, he hit QB Chad Henne as he was forced to check the ball down to Todman, who was tackled by LB Lavonte David after a 6-yard gain.

There is a lot of concern about the offensive line — and rightfully so. But if there is one thing that should keep coach Lovie Smith from counting ceiling tiles at night, it's knowing he has a defense that could be as dominant as any in the league.

"There were a lot of encouraging points. You have to look at the way we started the game," Smith said. "We chose to defer (the kickoff); wanted our defense to play first. Gerald McCoy, the best player on our team, was that and played that way right away. Lavonte David, a lot of guys on the defensive side that you expected to play well, did.

"It was good to get some of our young corners active while we were out there. Johnthan Banks played well. Rashaan Melvin, coming off (an ankle injury), played good ball. Major Wright (did, too). So defensively, there was some good play."

The addition of DT Clinton McDonald and DE Michael Johnson should make life easier for McCoy. It's a pick-your-poison line that includes another first-round pick in DE Adrian Clayborn.

How suffocating was the defense Friday? Consider the Jaguars' first-half possessions ended: punt, punt, punt, downs, punt and punt.

The Bucs also got contributions off the bench, including three tackles (one for a loss) and a pass defensed by DL Da'Quan Bowers.

"Pleased; he did some good things," Smith said of Bowers. "As I talked about, let's not get too alarmed by some of our play inside at the guard position (and) you can't get too high on what happened with some of the better plays. Everybody had flashes. Da'Quan has had flashes throughout. And we had that with a few other players."

The team finished 17th in the NFL in defense last season at 348 yards per game. Returning to the Tampa 2 under Smith should enable it to crack the top 10 — or possibly top five — if everything falls into place.

RB DEPTH: Bobby Rainey was the second tailback Friday and ran for a team-high 25 yards on six carries. He also fielded a punt (a fair catch), downed a punt on the 2 and was the personal protector for P Michael Koenen.

Special teams will secure Rainey's spot on the roster, but don't be surprised if rookie Charles Sims emerges as the No. 2 tailback to Doug Martin.

INJURIES: No update on the status of rookie WR Robert Herron, who injured his shoulder Friday. But Smith said, "We think he'll be okay."

Contact Rick Stroud at [email protected] and listen from 6 to 9 a.m. weekdays on WDAE-AM 620. Follow @NFLStroud.

Comments
Jones: Tony Dungy didnít leave the Bucs on the clearance rack

Jones: Tony Dungy didnít leave the Bucs on the clearance rack

It is and always will be the greatest debate in Tampa Bay sports history.Jon Gruden or Tony Dungy?You donít even need to say anything more than that. Bucs fans already know what youíre talking about.Gruden or Dungy?Who was most responsible for the on...
Updated: 18 minutes ago
Nobody has Jameis Winstonís back more than Dirk Koetter, offensive coordinator Todd Monken insists

Nobody has Jameis Winstonís back more than Dirk Koetter, offensive coordinator Todd Monken insists

Nobody is a bigger supporter of Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston than head coach Dirk Koetter.That was the passionate message that offensive coordinator/receivers coach Todd Monken unloaded at his news conference Friday, saying that reports that Winst...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Bucs journal: Adarius Glantonís experience could come in handy for ailing LB corps

Bucs journal: Adarius Glantonís experience could come in handy for ailing LB corps

TAMPA ó The Bucsí linebacker depth was tested during the first five weeks of the season, when Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander missed a combined six games with injuries.And now, as David is again sidelined by a hamstring injury, the experience gained...
Published: 12/15/17
Cannon Fodder podcast: Letís revisit Monday night games in Bucsí past

Cannon Fodder podcast: Letís revisit Monday night games in Bucsí past

Times Bucs writer Greg Auman has injury updates on Lavonte David and Gerald McCoy and a nostalgic trip through the Bucsí history on Monday night, including the current three-game win streak and yes, that infamous 2003 Colts game where the Bucs were u...
Published: 12/15/17
Why the Bucs need a Dungy more than a Gruden

Why the Bucs need a Dungy more than a Gruden

TAMPA ó The worst week of Dirk Koetterís life rolls on.Itís Gruden Week, just like Shark Week, only with smaller teeth and a bigger playbook. Itís the big build-up to Grudenís induction into the Buc Ring of Honor this Monday night, with the accompany...
Published: 12/15/17
Rick and Tom podcast: Is Dirk Koetter fighting for his job?

Rick and Tom podcast: Is Dirk Koetter fighting for his job?

In their latest podcast, Rick Stroud and Tom Jones discuss whether Dirk Koetter is fighting for his job the final three weeks of season. Is there a rift between him and Jameis Winston? Has Winston shown enough progress this year? And who are the Glaz...
Published: 12/15/17
Bucsí Lavonte David misses practice with hamstring injury

Bucsí Lavonte David misses practice with hamstring injury

TAMPA ó The Bucs knew they might be playing without DT Gerald McCoy, who suffered a biceps injury early in Sundayís loss to the Lions. But now they face the prospect of playing Monday against Atlanta without another of their defensive leaders, as LB ...
Published: 12/14/17
USFís Nigel Harris eager for chance with hometown Bucs

USFís Nigel Harris eager for chance with hometown Bucs

When Nigel Harris chose where to play college football, he wanted to stay home in Tampa at USF. And now, after playing for the Chargers and Giants as an NFL rookie, he's grateful for the chance to again prove himself in Tampa as the newest member of ...
Published: 12/14/17
NFL Week 15: Tampa Bay Times staff picks

NFL Week 15: Tampa Bay Times staff picks

Week 15 starts and ends with disappointment — a Thursday night meeting of two of the more disappointing teams (Denver at Indianapolis) and a Monday night game that once had held high hopes locally (Atlanta at Tampa Bay). Once.Here's our picks f...
Published: 12/14/17
Measuring Jameis Winstonís progress, and Dirk Koetterís job security

Measuring Jameis Winstonís progress, and Dirk Koetterís job security

TAMPA ó It is one of the most honest moments of the season, captured in the first Hard Knocks episode. Jameis Winston is having a frank conversation with coach Dirk Koetter, seated behind his desk in his office at One Buc Place."I just want to have a...
Published: 12/14/17