Saturday, January 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Falcons official backs out of Bucs GM search

MOBILE, Ala. — As the Bucs narrow their options for a new general manager, Falcons director of player personnel Lionel Vital politely withdrew his name, telling the Atlanta Journal-Constitution he was staying with the Falcons.

Vital, attending Senior Bowl workouts, had interviewed for the job opened by the firing of Mark Dominik. In not choosing him, the Bucs will likely hire a general manager with no direct experience working with new coach Lovie Smith, who will have final authority over the 53-man roster.

The remaining finalists are believed to include Marc Ross, Giants vice president of player evaluation, and Jason Licht, Cardinals vice president of player personnel, both who have reportedly interviewed with the Bucs.

BACK HEALTHY: Former St. Petersburg Catholic and Gators G Jon Halapio can show NFL teams that he's fully recovered from the torn pectoral muscle that sidelined him at the start of the season.

"I just want to prove to the coaches and the scouts (against) any doubt they have, that I'm a different player," Halapio said after the South's practice.

"I want to redeem my senior season. I've been hearing that my junior season was better than my senior season. I want to prove my pec is 100 percent and I'm back to the old player and getting even better."

The state's colleges have a strong presence in Mobile — the Gators have WR Solomon Patton, CB Jaylen Watkins and Halapio, Florida State has LBs Christian Jones and Telvin Smith, S Terrence Brooks and C Bryan Stork, and Miami has QB Stephen Morris, G Brandon Linder and T Seantrel Henderson.

THIS AND THAT: It's a homecoming this week for Patton, who went to high school in Mobile and is wearing No. 80 for the South. He was officially measured at 5 feet, 8.4 inches, making him the shortest player on the two teams. … Bucs coach Lovie Smith started his Monday in Tampa, where he received a standing ovation at a breakfast by the Tampa Organization of Black Affairs honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. … The Bucs continue to have their personnel department in place — director of player personnel Dennis Hickey and director of college scouting Eric Stokes attended Monday's workouts. …Bucs defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan, hired as the Lions linebackers coach, will move back to his hometown into a home in Ann Arbor he's kept since working at Michigan. His connection to the Lions is defensive coordinator Teryl Austin (the former Gators assistant), who he worked with at Michigan in 2002.

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