Sunday, November 19, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Expect a wide-open battle among Tampa Bay Buccaneers' wide receivers at training camp

RECOMMENDED READING


TAMPA — The Bucs report for training camp in three weeks, and when they do, perhaps no unit will be under as much scrutiny as the wide receivers.

Though 11 are on the roster, it's likely no more than five or six will make it past the final cut.

Of the 11, five were on last season's roster. Combine them with new additions Vincent Jackson (a Pro Bowl player and roster lock) and Tiquan Underwood, and throw in Ed Gant, who just missed making the cut last season, and you've got a crowd.

"(Backup quarterback) Dan Orlovsky said, 'I don't know if I've ever seen a top-five or six (group) in a receiving corps that's been this solid,' '' quarterback Josh Freeman said. "Everybody can go out and do it. I'm really looking forward to getting out there."

The addition of Jackson, who signed a blockbuster $55.5 million contract on the first day of the free-agent signing period, leaves the remaining receivers in a situation where they must work harder for the remaining pass attempts. During offseason workouts, Jackson was easily Freeman's top target, and that isn't likely to change in the regular season.

Jackson already has made an impact as a leader, but his other primary contribution might be bringing out the best in those behind him. "He's just made the whole (unit) better, and he'll continue to do that on a daily basis," receivers coach P.J. Fleck said.

Mike Williams, attempting to bounce back from a bit of a down year in 2011, is the presumptive No. 2 receiver. This is a different role for him after being thrust into the No. 1 spot his first two seasons.

Beyond Williams, anything is possible. Preston Parker, who emerged last season with 40 receptions, has excelled in the offseason. But during training camp and the preseason, Underwood, Gant, Dezmon Briscoe (six touchdown receptions in 2011), Arrelious Benn and Sammie Stroughter will have chances to state their cases.

"It's just a bunch of guys trying to make a name for themselves in this league," said Underwood, who played for new Bucs coach Greg Schiano at Rutgers and joined the club as a free agent this offseason. "That just brings about competition. Competition is always good, because that makes the cream rise to the top."

The group is young. Including Jackson, 29, the average age of the top eight receivers is 25. Briscoe, entering his third season, is 22. Benn, also entering Year 3, is 23.

That's why Fleck doesn't want development to get lost during the evaluation process. His advice?

"Right now, just worry about today," Fleck said. "Don't worry about the result at the end. … Every individual we have, we want them to say, 'What am I going to get better on today?' Then they go out and truly get better at that skill or that route. If they can get better like that every day and then stack a bunch of those together over the course of time — we're not going to become All-Pros tomorrow — it's going to be over time with the consistent commitment that they're making."

another bountygate suit: The players association filed a lawsuit against the NFL on behalf of three players suspended in connection with the Saints bounty investigation, calling commissioner Roger Goodell "incurably and evidently biased." The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Will Smith, Scott Fujita and Anthony Hargrove in federal court, said Goodell violated the labor agreement by showing he had predetermined the players' guilt before serving as the arbitrator for their June 18 appeal hearing. Goodell denied the appeals. The union wants a judge to set aside earlier arbitration rulings and order a new arbitrator.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

Comments
Figures from FSU case enter latest allegation against Jameis Winston

Figures from FSU case enter latest allegation against Jameis Winston

MIAMI GARDENS — The case of Jameis Winston and a female Uber driver in Arizona took more twists Sunday, with Winston getting some level of corroboration, and his unnamed accuser retaining a familiar, high-profile attorney.Eagles cornerback Ronald Dar...
Updated: 10 minutes ago
NFL Week 11: What we learned

NFL Week 11: What we learned

Is Jerry Jones the next Al Davis? Is he really going to let his anger for commissioner Roger Goodell ruin his relationship with the other owners? Should we have seen this coming? I think the answers are: Yes, probably and yes. Jones is the modern-day...
Updated: 18 minutes ago
Jones: Even in victory, dread hangs over the Bucs

Jones: Even in victory, dread hangs over the Bucs

MIAMI GARDENS — A dark cloud is hanging over this football team.It’s a heaviness. A dread. A dread for what might have happened in the past and what might happen in the future.And that makes it hard for fans to truly enjoy what happened Sunday.The Bu...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Bucs-Dolphins journal: Patrick Murray on winning kick: ‘I knew I was going to make it’

Bucs-Dolphins journal: Patrick Murray on winning kick: ‘I knew I was going to make it’

MIAMI GARDENS — Patrick Murray has been so consistent since taking over as the Bucs’ kicker that he had no doubt when called upon to make a go-ahead field goal with four seconds left in Sunday’s win.Ryan Fitzpatrick completed three passes for 55 yard...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Bucs-Dolphins report card: Grading Tampa Bay’s 30-20 victory

Bucs-Dolphins report card: Grading Tampa Bay’s 30-20 victory

MIAMI GARDENS — That was one ugly football game.The Bucs had a bad game. The Dolphins had a really bad game. And who had the worst game of all? The officials.In fact, the best part of Sunday’s game was before the game even started, thanks to a stirri...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Bucs-Dolphins: How Ryan Fitzpatrick steadied Tampa Bay

Bucs-Dolphins: How Ryan Fitzpatrick steadied Tampa Bay

MIAMI GARDENS — For chaos, there was Jameis Winston missing his second game with a shoulder injury and an NFL investigation swirling around him.For calamity, there was the Bucs forcing four of their five turnovers in the first half and building a two...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Bucs-Dolphins:  How rookies like O.J. Howard carried the day

Bucs-Dolphins: How rookies like O.J. Howard carried the day

MIAMI GARDENS — From start to finish, the Bucs’ wobbly 30-20 win over the Dolphins on Sunday was made possible by game-changing plays made by rookies.The Bucs’ top three picks in this year’s draft — tight end O.J. Howard, safety Justin Evans and rece...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Bucs-Dolphins: Social media reactions to Tampa Bay’s 30-20 victory

Bucs-Dolphins: Social media reactions to Tampa Bay’s 30-20 victory

The Bucs won their second straight and snapped a six-game road losing streak Sunday. And they did it after blowing a 13-point lead.Here’s a sampling of reactions on social media to Tampa Bay’s 30-20 win over the Dolphins in Miami Gardens:...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Buccaneers-Dolphins: A by-the-numbers look at Tampa Bay’s 30-20 win

Buccaneers-Dolphins: A by-the-numbers look at Tampa Bay’s 30-20 win

Here’s a by-the-numbers look at the Bucs’ 30-20 win over the Dolphins on Sunday:5Bucs takeaways, four of which occurred in the first half. Tampa Bay last recorded four takeaways in the first half against Chicago in Week 2.6Turnovers quarterback Jay C...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Bucs-Dolphins: Instant analysis from Tampa Bay’s 30-20 victory

Bucs-Dolphins: Instant analysis from Tampa Bay’s 30-20 victory

The Buccaneers won their second straight game Sunday in Miami Gardens, breaking a six-game road losing streak in the process. Here’s the Times’ Bucs coverage team’s instant analysis from Tampa Bay’s 30-20 win over the Miami Dolphins:WINNING IS WINNIN...
Updated: 4 hours ago