Saturday, June 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Patriots fend off distractions (again) before facing Chiefs

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The Patriots would have loved to spend the week with nothing else to worry about except today's playoff game against the Chiefs.

But Pro Bowl defensive lineman Chandler Jones wandered over to the local police station on Sunday, shirtless and disoriented, leaving his house reeking of burnt marijuana. Suddenly, the defending Super Bowl champions were back on defense.

Fortunately, they're pretty good at it.

"I mean, are there any more questions about the Chiefs here?" coach Bill Belichick said Thursday after nine straight unanswered questions about Jones' unusual weekend. "The rest of it, I'm done talking about. We issued a statement, that's it."

Jones apologized to teammates and fans, saying he made a "pretty stupid mistake," but didn't elaborate. Belichick refused to say whether Jones would be benched for fear of revealing valuable strategic information to the Chiefs.

Patriots players said they would have no trouble putting the incident aside. And it's hard to doubt them, after what they have gone through over the last 12 months and beyond.

Hours after New England's 45-7 victory over Indianapolis in last season's AFC Championship Game, the team was accused of illegally deflating footballs. Even before a league investigation found them guilty, the Patriots plugged their ears and dug in their heels.

And went on to win the Super Bowl.

A season earlier, New England recorded its now-customary 12-win season, AFC East title and trip to the title championship game despite releasing tight end Aaron Hernandez over the summer, shortly before he was charged with first-degree murder. (The former Florida Gator was convicted in April 2015, a few months after his former teammates' Super Bowl victory.)

"I think Coach Belichick does a great job of really just, like, brainwashing us," defensive back Duron Harmon said this week. "We just try to ignore all the distractions, whether it's that situation or 'Deflategate,' or any other distraction. We just try to ignore the noise."

The Patriots will need to give Kansas City their undivided attention. The Chiefs won 10 in a row to close the regular season, then trounced Houston 30-0 in the wild-card round. The winning streak is the longest in team history and longest active streak in the league.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid said he isn't worried about Spygate, Deflategate or any other allegations of Patriots misdeeds.

"You concentrate on getting better at your fundamentals, techniques and those great players you've got to play against," Reid said. "All that other stuff (is a) distraction."

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has knee and back injuries that have limited his ability to practice. Receiver Julian Edelman and offensive lineman Sebastian Vollmer are also listed as questionable.

Chiefs offensive linemen Mitch Morse and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif are out with concussions, but their big question is whether leading receiver Jeremy Maclin, who did not practice all week and is listed as questionable, will be available after suffering a mild high ankle sprain.

Comments
Ronald Darby’s friend: Jameis Winston got into second Uber ride alone

Ronald Darby’s friend: Jameis Winston got into second Uber ride alone

New details emerged Friday night about the Uber ride in Arizona in March 2016 that led to Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston's three-game suspension to start the upcoming season, including the fact that Winston was in a car that night with a former Vand...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Chris Godwin on SiriusXM: Bucs have confidence in backup QBs

Chris Godwin on SiriusXM: Bucs have confidence in backup QBs

Bucs receiver Chris Godwin, who has had as good an offseason as any Tampa Bay player, was on SiriusXM NFL radio for a scheduled interview on Thursday night, talking about a range of subjects, including the news of Jameis Winston's suspension to start...
Published: 06/22/18
With Winston suspension, how might Bucs split QB reps in preseason?

With Winston suspension, how might Bucs split QB reps in preseason?

With news that Jameis Winston will be suspended for the first three games of 2018, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter has an interesting decision to make for training camp and especially in preseason games: How does he split reps between Winston and backup Ryan...
Published: 06/22/18
Bucs QB Jameis Winston’s suspension: What they’re saying

Bucs QB Jameis Winston’s suspension: What they’re saying

There are so many sides to the Jameis Winston suspension, and it will continue to be a major Bucs story line through September and beyond. Here's some of the reactions and notes that have already emerged in the first 24 hours since news broke Thursda...
Published: 06/22/18
Welcome back to the dark side, Bucs fans

Welcome back to the dark side, Bucs fans

TAMPA — Thursday was not the end of Jameis Winston in Tampa Bay, but it is in sight.Me? I was sitting at home. I was tired of the NBA draft, even with Tampa's Kevin Knox going to the New York Knicks.So I switched to the NFL Network. An episode ...
Published: 06/22/18
Winston aftermath: Report says Darby wasn’t in car for whole ride

Winston aftermath: Report says Darby wasn’t in car for whole ride

There's no telling how much detail will be disclosed in what the NFL learned in its investigation that led to Jameis Winston being suspended for the first three games of the upcoming season, but some have already been reported in the first 24 hours s...
Published: 06/22/18
Kwon Alexander to Jameis Winston: ‘We gotcha back’

Kwon Alexander to Jameis Winston: ‘We gotcha back’

There are many questions in the aftermath of Thursday's news that Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston will be suspended for the first three games of the 2018 season, but even before the suspension is officially announced, he is drawing support on social ...
Published: 06/22/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Jameis Winston to receive three-game suspension

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Jameis Winston to receive three-game suspension

Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston will be suspended by the NFL for three games according to reports, and that number could go up if he doesn't meet certain criteria.Rick Stroud explains that the suspension is not for a failure to report the 2016 i...
Published: 06/22/18
Timeline of investigations, suspensions and allegations involving Jameis Winston

Timeline of investigations, suspensions and allegations involving Jameis Winston

The NFL will suspend Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston three games without pay to start the regular season for violating the league's personal conduct policy. The suspension could be increased if he fails to meet certain undisclosed requirements expect...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Jameis Winston suspension means Bucs will turn to Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB

Jameis Winston suspension means Bucs will turn to Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB

TAMPA — The news of Jameis Winston's suspension to start this season likely means the Bucs will have veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick stepping in at quarterback for the first three games of the regular season.Fitzpatrick took over as the starter for th...
Published: 06/21/18