Saturday, April 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs promote competition among kickers

TAMPA — When K Connor Barth had season-ending surgery on his Achilles last month, the Bucs felt fortunate to bring in veteran Lawrence Tynes at the last minute.

Tynes, 35, has two Super Bowl rings, and made two overtime winning kicks in conference championship games.

But coach Greg Schiano has made it clear Tynes will be judged on the present. And a toe injury is not helping Tynes' case.

Tynes, who missed Saturday's practice with what Schiano called an ingrown toenail, returned Monday but missed a couple of field goals before taking a step back. That has given a chance to Derek Dimke, 23, who has never kicked in an NFL game but has looked good in camp.

"When we started this competition, Tynes was in front because he was the veteran," Schiano said. "But I've never coached either one of them. This isn't a book about what's happened in the past, this is about the Bucs in 2013, and where are we today? That's what we've got to look at. The competition is good, the injury has definitely set Lawrence back, so we've got to get him feeling well before we can make a fair judgment."

NOT READY: TE Luke Stocker (calf strain) was activated from the physically-unable-to-perform list, so he can practice. But Schiano cautioned against assuming Stocker is ready to go.

"Progress is a good way to put it," Schiano said. "He's not ready to go, but he was taken off PUP because he was going to do some things with pads on, which is the rule."

Stocker was sidelined for full-team drills where contact was a part of the day's practice.

"Practice was good," Stocker said. "They had to ease me in a little bit. That felt good, so (today) should be wide-open."

Another starter, DE Adrian Clayborn (groin), returned to practice but couldn't finish it. He eventually went back to riding an exercise bicycle.

"He went back out and didn't quite feel good enough," Schiano said. "So we'll give it a couple more days."

STEPPING IN: G Carl Nicks (toe) had a good practice, springing RB Doug Martin open for a long run on a drill. Schiano is encouraged Nicks has been able to participate in some 11-on-11 periods, having come off season-ending toe surgery. "I know he's in discomfort, but he's a tough guy and he fights it," Schiano said.

HE MEANS IT: Schiano said rookie DE Steven Means is getting better, but still adjusting to the learning curve. "He needs to go out there and play Thursday night (in the preseason opener against Baltimore) at a high energy level and let it go," Schiano said. "I can still see a guy who is thinking too much. So I'm sure he's gaining information but … usually there's a spike you see right away, pure ability when they come in rookie minicamp. As they learn it kind of slows them down and now I hope he's coming out of it and I can see that. Just how far will he come and how fast? That's usually the rookie struggle; that D-line game is right now, bam-bam, in your face. And (at) this level you learn a lot of tricks as you go."

MISCELLANY: WR Mike Williams (hamstring), CB Johnthan Banks and WR Tiquan Underwood (hamstring) returned to practice. The Bucs signed LB Marvin Booker and WR Chris Denton, waiving WR Bobby Sewall and S Troy Nolan to make room.

Times staff writer Stephen F. Holder contributed to this report. Joe Smith can be reached at [email protected]

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