Thursday, December 14, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs opponent preview: Falcons, Weeks 1 and 9

When they play: Week 1 (Sept. 11) in Atlanta, Week 9 (Nov. 3) in Tampa

2015 record: 8-8

Last time vs. Bucs: Tampa Bay swept the Falcons last year in two close games, winning 23-20 in overtime and then 23-19 after being swept in 2014.

2016 outlook: Last year, the Falcons opened 5-0, sweeping all four NFC East teams and scoring at least 24 in each game, then didn't score 24 in any game the rest of the way, losing seven of their next eight. It might be the opposite this year, as they open with four of six on the road, then close with four of six at home. Perhaps their best offseason upgrade was adding Pro Bowl center Alex Mack from the Browns in free agency.

Player to watch: WR Julio Jones (6-4, 220) led the NFL with 1,871 receiving yards in 2015 and tied for the league lead with 136 receptions. The Falcons spent big to add Bengals WR Mohamed Sanu, who should be a better No. 2 than he had last season.

Rookie to watch: First-rounder Keanu Neal, the former Gators safety, will miss the first month of the season with injury, so we'll mention second-rounder Deion Jones, a speedy linebacker from LSU and good friend of the Bucs' Kwon Alexander.

Key matchup: Dirk Koetter ran the Falcons offense from 2012-14 and Mike Smith was Atlanta's head coach from 2008-14. They know old players' tendencies, but those players know how their old coaches like to scheme, so there's a chess match of who can surprise and/or outwit the other best.

Familiar face: Former Bucs first-round pick Adrian Clayborn re-signed with the Falcons after finishing second on the team with three sacks last season.

Cool stat: Atlanta tied for the NFL lead with 16 defensive pass interference penalties last season, including six from Desmond Trufant and four from Robert Alford. A DPI penalty last year negated a Falcons interception in the final minutes, keeping alive the drive that led to the Bucs' winning touchdown.

Comments
Bucs’ Mike Evans gives the gift of perspective

Bucs’ Mike Evans gives the gift of perspective

TAMPA — So, this is Christmas.The Bucs are having an awful season. There is no way around it. Star receiver Mike Evans isn’t having a great year, either, not nearly as many catches or touchdowns as last season, when he was selected for the Pro Bowl.S...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Warren Sapp on sexual harassment allegations: ‘Ain’t no #MeToo’

Warren Sapp on sexual harassment allegations: ‘Ain’t no #MeToo’

Warren Sapp vehemently denied allegations that he sexually harassed a female employee when he worked at the NFL Network during a radio appearance this afternoon in Miami."Ain’t no #MeToo," the former Buc and Pro Football Hall of Famer said on the And...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Cannon Fodder podcast: Gerald McCoy still wants to play

Cannon Fodder podcast: Gerald McCoy still wants to play

Greg Auman has an update in his latest podcast while the Bucs have two days off during the long week.
Published: 12/13/17
Rick and Tom podcast: Should the Rays go full fire-sale mode?

Rick and Tom podcast: Should the Rays go full fire-sale mode?

As baseball’s hot stove starts heating up, should the Rays go full fire sale to build for the future?In their latest podcast, Rick Stroud and Tom Jones discuss whether the Rays should trade guys like Evan Longoria, Chris Archer, Alex Colome and more,...
Published: 12/13/17
Despite injury, Gerald McCoy wants to play this season

Despite injury, Gerald McCoy wants to play this season

Even dealing with a biceps injury and his Bucs at 4-9, Gerald McCoy isn't giving up on playing this season."I'm a fighter," McCoy said Tuesday night. "Y'all know me. I don't quit. I give it everything I have. Even the slightest possibility of being a...
Published: 12/12/17
Bucs’ defensive line surprises families with Christmas spree

Bucs’ defensive line surprises families with Christmas spree

The West Club at Raymond James Stadium was packed on Tuesday night with 75 needy local families who thought they were getting a holiday dinner and stadium tour with Bucs players.The defensive line stepped up to give the families a much bigger surpris...
Published: 12/12/17
Bucs promote rookie LB Riley Bullough to active roster

Bucs promote rookie LB Riley Bullough to active roster

The Bucs have promoted rookie LB Riley Bullough — a cult favorite back in August after being nicknamed "Joe Dirt" on HBO's "Hard Knocks" — to the active roster after he spent three months on the team's practice squad.Bullough, undrafted o...
Published: 12/12/17
Bucs sign ex-USF LB Nigel Harris to practice squad

Bucs sign ex-USF LB Nigel Harris to practice squad

The Bucs have signed former Hillsborough High and USF linebacker Nigel Harris to their practice squad after a workout Tuesday.Harris, 23, has played for the Chargers and Giants already this season as an undrafted rookie. He had 11 tackles in five gam...
Published: 12/12/17
Your turn: Who deserves more credit for Bucs’ Super Bowl victory?

Your turn: Who deserves more credit for Bucs’ Super Bowl victory?

Fifteen years later, Tampa Bay's Great Sports Debate continues: Who deserves more credit for the Bucs' Super Bowl victory, Jon Gruden or Tony Dungy? With the Bucs set to induct Gruden into the Ring of Honor on Monday, what do you think? Email your ...
Published: 12/12/17
Warren Sapp accused of harassment; NFL Network suspends three analysts over sexual assault allegations

Warren Sapp accused of harassment; NFL Network suspends three analysts over sexual assault allegations

Warren Sapp, a former Buc and Pro Football Hall of Famer, has been accused of sexual harassment while working as an analyst with NFL Network, according to a lawsuit.NFL Network has suspended analysts Marshall Faulk, Heath Evans and Ike Taylor "pendin...
Published: 12/12/17