Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Lovie Smith new Bucs advantage vs. Cam Newton

TAMPA — The Bucs have come to know Cam Newton well in his three years in Carolina. In his four wins against Tampa Bay, Newton has accounted for at least three touchdowns in each, beating the Bucs by an average score of 36-13.

The Bucs' two wins against Newton, both in 2012, came by six points each, having held the 2011 No. 1 overall draft pick to a single touchdown in each. As Cam goes, the Panthers go, so the Bucs' defensive players understand the need to get to him, and much faster, than they did last year.

"He's a linebacker, a defensive end at quarterback, and you have to get him down on the ground," said defensive end Adrian Clayborn, who had one of three Bucs sacks of Newton last season. "And he's faster than most of us."

Last year Newton literally ran away from the Bucs defense, with a 56-yard run that was his longest of the season.

"I know we didn't have enough up front," defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. "He got comfortable. He's not a guy you want to get comfortable, because then he gives you those highlight plays, making those Barry Sanders-type cuts, making people look bad."

As the Bucs open their season at home Sunday against the defending NFC South champions, they have a new-advantage in their battle against Newton: Lovie Smith, who edged Newton twice as the Bears' coach, his players returning an interception for a touchdown to help each time.

Consider this: In two games against Smith teams, Newton has as many interceptions returned for touchdowns (two) as in the other 47 games in his NFL career combined. That experience and an unusual familiarity with Carolina will help Smith this week.

"I think I've coached or had on my staff eight guys off (Carolina's) staff," Smith said. "I know quite a bit about (the Panthers). All great guys, great coaches. In the end it comes down to execution. We respect what they do. They're a challenge, and I can't wait to compete against them."

Newton is relatively vulnerable right now. Recovering from ankle surgery, he suffered a hairline fracture to his ribs in a preseason game against the Patriots and did not practice Wednesday. He still is expected to play Sunday, but he might not be 100 percent.

"It's been painful, but he's worked his way through it," coach Ron Rivera said Wednesday. "He's gone through our walkthroughs, done the things he's been allowed to do with the trainers. We'll see how he is and how he progresses day by day."

Smith didn't have it easy in either Bears victory against Newton. His Bears trailed 17-6 in the fourth quarter of one game, taking the lead on a pick-six, losing it again, then winning on a field goal as time expired.

"(Newton has) just been growing as a player," said Bucs linebacker Mason Foster, also in his fourth NFL season. "Watching him from when we first came into the league, playing against him twice a year, he's definitely gotten a lot better."

Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier faced Newton last season as the Vikings' coach and saw him pass for three touchdowns and run for a fourth score in a 35-10 Panthers romp. There's no lack of experience on the Bucs defense in trying to stop Newton, and players say they'll trust their defense to contain him.

"You've got to play your game," Foster said. "Don't try to think too much about what he's doing. It's not about him. Just execute our calls."

Times writer Matt Baker contributed to this report. Contact Greg Auman at [email protected]m or (813) 226-3346. Follow @gregauman.

Comments
Winston: Bucs’ Ryan Jensen ‘one of the toughest, meanest, baddest centers’

Winston: Bucs’ Ryan Jensen ‘one of the toughest, meanest, baddest centers’

It's hard to miss new Bucs center Ryan Jensen at OTA workouts this week, with his long red hair visible from across the field even when he's wearing a helmet."Any recommendations for anti frizz shampoo and conditioner?" Jensen wrote on Twitter with a...
Updated: 19 minutes ago
Gerald McCoy appreciates help on D-line, but knows it will take more than names on paper

Gerald McCoy appreciates help on D-line, but knows it will take more than names on paper

TAMPA — He's 30."I know. I'm getting old," Gerald McCoy said Tuesday, shaking his head.He's still a young man, of course. But in football years, McCoy has finally reached a black balloon birthday. This is his ninth season with the Bucs, which i...
Updated: 11 hours ago
HBO: Ex-Buc Scot Brantley battling Alzheimer’s, claim denied by NFL

HBO: Ex-Buc Scot Brantley battling Alzheimer’s, claim denied by NFL

Former Gators and Bucs linebacker Scot Brantley, also once a popular sports radio host in Tampa, is battling Alzheimer's Disease and has been rejected from the NFL's concussion settlement, according to tonight's episode of HBO's "Real Sports with Bry...
Published: 05/22/18
Bucs’ Mike Evans: Yards after catch must improve in 2018

Bucs’ Mike Evans: Yards after catch must improve in 2018

Mike Evans is one of just three receivers in NFL history to open his career with four straight 1,000-yard seasons, but he understands one area where he can make a big improvement in 2018: yards after the catch."I think last year was my worst year in ...
Published: 05/22/18
Gerald McCoy: Sorry, but Vita Vea is Maui from Moana

Gerald McCoy: Sorry, but Vita Vea is Maui from Moana

If you've been dipping your toes in the "Gosh, Vita Vea looks a lot like the guy from Disney's Moana" pool, Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy has jumped in all the way.The Bucs' 347-pound rookie is massive, has a family history on the Pacific island...
Published: 05/22/18
Jason Pierre-Paul, Brent Grimes absent as Bucs open OTA practices

Jason Pierre-Paul, Brent Grimes absent as Bucs open OTA practices

The Bucs started another chapter of their offseason Tuesday with the first OTA (organized team activity) practice at One Buc Place, with veterans Jason Pierre-Paul and Brent Grimes as the only healthy players absent from what is officially a voluntar...
Published: 05/22/18
Bucs Jameis Winston gets engaged to long-time girlfriend Breion Allen who says, ‘Well, it’s about damn time’

Bucs Jameis Winston gets engaged to long-time girlfriend Breion Allen who says, ‘Well, it’s about damn time’

On a day when the Royal wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle was taking place across the pond, Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston proposed marriage to his long-time girlfriend Breion Allen Saturday in New York City.She said yes.The proposal to...
Published: 05/21/18
Could Bucs find another undrafted rookie tight end in 2018?

Could Bucs find another undrafted rookie tight end in 2018?

At no position is the Bucs' ability to find talent outside the NFL draft more clear than at tight end, where three of the four returning players from last season joined the Bucs as undrafted rookie free agents.Cameron Brate did so in 2014, Alan Cross...
Published: 05/21/18
Why the Buccaneers’ 2018 schedule isn’t as bad as it seems

Why the Buccaneers’ 2018 schedule isn’t as bad as it seems

Saints, Eagles, Steelers.Three games against three playoff teams to open the NFL season.Who in the league scheduling office did the Buccaneers tick off?What an injustice!Or not.Maybe the league did the Bucs a favor.Would you rather face the Saints, E...
Published: 05/21/18
O-line coach ‘ecstatic’ about Bucs drafting Vita Vea

O-line coach ‘ecstatic’ about Bucs drafting Vita Vea

Add another to the long list of Bucs players and coaches excited about first-round pick Vita Vea: offensive line coach George Warhop.Warhop said the 347-pound defensive tackle from Washington kept showing up as he looked at tape on Pac-12 offensive l...
Published: 05/19/18