Thursday, April 26, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Packers-Redskins: Teams headed in opposite directions

LANDOVER, Md. — Aaron Rodgers has been a Super Bowl champion and a two-time NFL MVP. He owns the best passer rating in league history. His Packers are in the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season.

Kirk Cousins started a grand total of nine regular-season games entering this season, wasn't chosen as Washington's quarterback until a couple of weeks before the opener, and his only postseason experience to date consists of 10 passes as a backup in a loss three years ago.

Look at each of them now, though.

Heading into today's playoff matchup between the wild-card Packers and NFC East champion Redskins, Rodgers struggled through a poor-by-his-lofty-standards season, certainly hurt by the absence of top receiver Jordy Nelson, and his team went 4-6 down the stretch. Cousins, meanwhile, broke team passing records and set a league mark for completion percentage at home while leading Washington to four victories in a row down the stretch.

Fans attending the game will be given white towels with burgundy lettering that pays tribute to Cousins' catch phrase: "You like that?!"

And get this, given their comparative careers to date: An actual topic of debate in the D.C. area this week was which of the two QBs would be the player you'd want for the next five years.

As for the Redskins themselves, they express nothing but confidence in Cousins, who replaced Robert Griffin III as the starter late in the preseason. They're not disparaging Rodgers in any way, though.

"He's still got 31 touchdowns — how can you say he's not really having a good year? He's still got the intangibles of an elite QB," Washington cornerback Bashaud Breeland said. "Sometimes his supporting cast is not there to bail him out, but I feel like he's one of those guys you've got to be on your toes with, every play."

A young Washington offensive line — right guard Brandon Scherff, right tackle Morgan Moses and left guard Spencer Long became starters this season — allowed only 27 sacks. Today the team gets back center Kory Lichtensteiger, who returns after missing half the season.

"It's like he never left. ... Should be like riding a bike," Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams said. "There's hardly any looks that we're going to come across that he hasn't seen and doesn't know how to diagnose."

They'll have to deal with a veteran defense. Julius Peppers is still going strong in his 14th year in the league. His 101/2 sacks led the Packers and was his highest total since getting 111/2 in 2012. Peppers and fellow outside linebacker Clay Matthews give Green Bay two dangerous rushers.

Cornerback Sam Shields will miss his fourth straight game with a concussion.

As for the offense? Among plenty of problems for Green Bay has been an inability to convert on third downs. Green Bay was 28th in the league in third-down conversions at 33 percent, partly a reflection of an inconsistent running game.

"We need to be more disciplined and execute," Packers offensive coordinator and former FSU running back Edgar Bennett said.

Comments
Bucs trade down with Bills, get No. 12, two 2nd-rounders

Bucs trade down with Bills, get No. 12, two 2nd-rounders

The Bucs have traded down from their top pick, moving down five spots from No. 7 to No. 12 and gaining two second-round picks from the Buffalo Bills.Tampa Bay still has the No. 12 pick in the draft, but picked up No. 53 and No. 56, trading back their...
Updated: 9 minutes ago
Live blog: News, analysis, photos, more from the NFL draft

Live blog: News, analysis, photos, more from the NFL draft

Whether you're a fan of the Bucs, Gators, Seminoles, 'Canes or Bulls, you'll want to follow our live coverage of the 2018 NFL draft today through Saturday in Arlington, Tex. We'll have live news, commentary, photos, videos, stories and more, so come...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Bucs fill a need at running back on the first day of the draft…but it’s Charles Sims, who agrees to a 1-year deal

Bucs fill a need at running back on the first day of the draft…but it’s Charles Sims, who agrees to a 1-year deal

The Bucs landed a running back on the first day of the NFL draft.It wasn't Saquon Barkley or Sony Michel or Derrius Guice. Not just yet, anyway.Tampa Bay reached an agreement on a one-year contract with Charles Sims.The 27-year-old Sims was a third-r...
Updated: 11 hours ago
After Twitter backlash, Jeff Garcia won’t announce any Bucs draft picks

After Twitter backlash, Jeff Garcia won’t announce any Bucs draft picks

The Bucs still don't have a third-round draft pick this weekend, but if they do trade for one, former Tampa Bay Bucs quarterback Jeff Garcia won't be the one to announce it.It's been a rough few days for Garcia, who played for the Bucs in 2007-08, ma...
Published: 04/26/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: John Clayton breaks down the NFL draft

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: John Clayton breaks down the NFL draft

It's NFL draft day. John Clayton joins Rick Stroud to talk about how many quarterbacks will go early and who the Bucs will take with the seventh overall pick, considering their obvious needs on defense.Plus, the Lightning will face the Boston Br...
Published: 04/26/18
Bucs draft scenarios: Would this guy be their lucky pick at No. 7?

Bucs draft scenarios: Would this guy be their lucky pick at No. 7?

TAMPA – This is the Rubiks Cube of NFL drafts. It can be twisted and turned it in any direction. Not many know how everything will line up.For the Bucs, the puzzle is simple.  Since they have the No. 7 overall pick, they need four quarterb...
Published: 04/25/18
Updated: 04/26/18
Mock draft consensus: Who the experts have Bucs taking at No. 7

Mock draft consensus: Who the experts have Bucs taking at No. 7

We've linked to a lot of mock drafts over the last four months.We went back and assembled mocks from 40 different NFL writers we've linked to — this isn't the most recent for some of these who are in Mock 9.0 mode, but it's meant as an unscient...
Published: 04/25/18
Updated: 04/26/18
NFL draft: How the Bucs can grab hold of the NFC South

NFL draft: How the Bucs can grab hold of the NFC South

TAMPA — From the department of the weird, also known as Bucs marketing genius — also known as if it bombs, we can blame Ed Glazer — the Bucs will use a … parrot to announce their fourth-round pick in the NFL Draft, which kicks...
Published: 04/25/18
Q&A with Bucs tackle Donovan Smith: On bowling, charity work, team expectations

Q&A with Bucs tackle Donovan Smith: On bowling, charity work, team expectations

Bucs tackle Donovan Smith has a big season ahead, going into a contract year as part of a reshuffled offensive line. Still only 24, he has started all 48 games in his three NFL seasons, and has made it a priority in the offseason to be more active in...
Published: 04/25/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Who will the Bucs take with the No. 7 pick?

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Who will the Bucs take with the No. 7 pick?

Rick Stroud answers your NFL draft questions in this mailbag segment, including who the Bucs might take with the seventh overall pick, which running backs they might be looking at, whether Taven Bryan could slip to them in the second r...
Published: 04/25/18