Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs hope to score big returns

TAMPA — The Bucs haven't returned a punt or kickoff for a touchdown since November 2010 — only the Redskins have gone longer without one among the 32 NFL teams — and Kevin O'Dea's job is to change that this season.

The Bucs special-teams coordinator is well-equipped to help on returns. As the Chiefs assistant special-teams coach last season, he saw Kansas City return four kicks (two punts and two kickoffs) for scores, and he works to simplify the art of the return for his players.

"Really, what we're teaching is geometry and physics, but it's in phys ed," O'Dea said Tuesday. "They have to understand their angles, they have to understand their pad level, how we want it done, where the hands have to go and where they can't go. We don't want a good return brought back. We've got to get this thing rolling."

O'Dea wouldn't name any specific returners who have stood out in two weeks of practices — last year's primary returner, Eric Page, has fielded punts, as has WR Skye Dawson and rookie Solomon Patton, among others. He said the noncontact nature of drills thus far has limited the insights coaches can get about which players are ready to handle the collisions that come with returns.

"Right now, all I can tell is they're catching the ball, moving forward, they have good hands and they're being consistent," O'Dea said. "As far as the toughness part of it, as far as making people miss, I can't tell about that. … Until we get in pads, we really don't know those things."

The NFC South as a division hasn't had big plays on returns — Tampa Bay, Atlanta, New Orleans and Carolina all have gone two full seasons without a touchdown on a kickoff or punt return. By comparison, 23 of the 28 teams in the rest of the NFL have at least one score in that span.

MCCOWN PRAISE: Offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford wasn't the only coach glowing this week about new QB Josh McCown. Quarterbacks coach Marcus Arroyo said the 11-year veteran has already made a huge impression with the team. Arroyo praised McCown's abilities and the extra time he's spent in meeting rooms and watching film.

"He's done a great job of grabbing the group, grabbing the offense, from the O-line to the backs to the wide receivers and independently working with them," Arroyo said. "The core traits that you're looking for in a pro, he depicts exactly to a tee. He is what I think we thought he was, and that's awesome."

DOES SIZE MATTER? After Seattle won the Super Bowl thanks to a tall secondary, the thought of 6-foot cornerbacks has become an NFL trend. The Bucs have four of them, including last year's No. 43 pick, Johnthan Banks, although cornerbacks coach Gill Byrd said size isn't what matters most.

"Whether it's a big corner, short corner, you're as valuable as the plays you make," Byrd said. "The size isn't the issue. It's going out and not just being active but being productive. And that's the difference."

Byrd said one of those 6-foot cornerbacks, veteran Danny Gorrer, has been productive, lining up on the outside, against slot receivers and at nickel.

"His versatility shines when he's out there on the field," Byrd said.

Comments
Polly want a sacker: Bucs’ 4th-round draft pick to be delivered by parrot

Polly want a sacker: Bucs’ 4th-round draft pick to be delivered by parrot

Late-round NFL draft picks are often made on a wing and a prayer.The Bucs' fourth-round pick Saturday will be no different. The team announced Monday that as part of the NFL draft TV broadcast, the team's fourth-round pick will be delivered to an ann...
Published: 04/23/18
How Baker Mayfield can benefit the Bucs

How Baker Mayfield can benefit the Bucs

TAMPA — The buzz surrounding this year's NFL draft is a class of talented quarterbacks deep enough to challenge the record six taken in the first round in 1983, a group that included future Hall of Famers John Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino.Th...
Published: 04/22/18
Ex-NFL kicker Jay Feely apologizes for ‘joke’ gun photo

Ex-NFL kicker Jay Feely apologizes for ‘joke’ gun photo

Former NFL kicker Jay Feely, who was born in Odessa and starred at Tampa Jesuit, has apologized for a photo he intended as a joke, showing him holding a gun as he poses with his daughter and her prom date."Wishing my beautiful daughter and her date a...
Published: 04/22/18
Shaquem Griffin: ‘I’m not just a feel-good story’

Shaquem Griffin: ‘I’m not just a feel-good story’

TAMPA — Shaquem Griffin wakes up knowing each day will be better than the last and barely able to wait until tomorrow."It's just a whirlwind,'' Griffin said.On Thursday, he will walk the red carpet with his family, including his twin brother, S...
Published: 04/21/18
Bucs not listening to outsiders, but expectations remain high for 2018

Bucs not listening to outsiders, but expectations remain high for 2018

TAMPA —Wait 'til this year seems to be the refrain at One Buc Place, even though the team was strangled by expectations in 2017. But a solid offseason that has already brought a rebuilt defensive line, new center and place-kicker has renewed th...
Published: 04/21/18
NFL draft confessions: The Bucs set the trap, and I took the cheese on Johnny Manziel

NFL draft confessions: The Bucs set the trap, and I took the cheese on Johnny Manziel

TAMPA — The NFL draft is one big game of Liar's Poker. Deal me out.Even the guys with a seat at the table don't know when someone is bluffing.Bucs general manager Jason Licht knows that the team's No. 7 overall pick this year will be affected b...
Published: 04/20/18
Bucs’ Jameis Winston, Mike Evans catch Miami Heat game from courtside

Bucs’ Jameis Winston, Mike Evans catch Miami Heat game from courtside

We've seen Jameis Winston and Mike Evans bonding this offseason, going to Texas A&M pro day together, among other events. The two Bucs stars and their significant others double-dated Thursday night, getting courtside seats to watch the Miami Heat in ...
Published: 04/20/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Bucs have a tough start to their schedule

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Bucs have a tough start to their schedule

The NFL did the Bucs no favors with their 2018 schedule, Rick Stroud says, making them open at New Orleans, followed by home games against Philadelphia and Pittsburgh Plus, linebacker Kendall Beckwith had surgery to repair a broken ankle, p...
Published: 04/20/18
Here’s the Bucs’ full 2018 schedule

Here’s the Bucs’ full 2018 schedule

TAMPA — How good can the Bucs be in 2018? Fans will get a good sense in the first three weeks, as Tampa Bay opens the year with three of its toughest games, all against reigning division champions. The Bucs open 2018 in New Orleans on Sept. 9 ...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Bucs linebacker Kendell Beckwith fractured ankle in car accident

Bucs linebacker Kendell Beckwith fractured ankle in car accident

TAMPA – Bucs linebacker Kendell Beckwith had surgery to repair a broken ankle he suffered in a car accident in Louisiana last week, putting his status for the start of the season in question.Beckwith was passenger in car driven by former L...
Published: 04/19/18