Monday, June 18, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers tell NFL they're done playing games overseas for now

TAMPA — The Bucs' London trips, for now, are over.

Co-chairman Joel Glazer said Monday the team has told the league it does not wish to play in overseas games after doing so twice in three seasons.

The Bucs began their season-ending 10-game losing streak this season in London against the Bears. But Glazer said the decision was not made for football reasons. Tampa Bay wants to solidify its core audience here.

"We were helping the NFL build internationally. We believe greatly in that," said Glazer, whose family also owns the massively popular English Premier League soccer team Manchester United. "But for the foreseeable future, we told them we want to focus on building our base here."

The Bucs didn't benefit on the field from the trips abroad. Tampa Bay also lost in London to the Patriots in 2009. The physical and mental toll from the travel wasn't conducive to winning, either.

STOCKER'S SEASON: Rookie TE Luke Stocker didn't have a memorable foray into the NFL in a personal or team sense. But he said he is looking ahead to a critical offseason in which he thinks he'll grow as a player and the nagging injuries that limited him all season will heal.

"I expect a lot from myself next season, especially with a full offseason," said Stocker, a fourth-round draft pick from Tennessee. "Missing all that time in (training) camp was a big issue." He hurt his right hip on the first day.

"That slowed me down a lot," he said. "Any time you have a lower-body injury, you lose strength and you lose speed. … By about the time I started getting it back, I got hurt, and I missed a couple of weeks." That second injury, a knee sprain, cost Stocker two games in the middle of the season.

"I personally just worked every day and tried not to get caught up in the ups and the downs," he said. "I felt that as an individual, as this season went on, I did become a better player, especially a better blocker."

BENNETT'S OUTLOOK: DE Michael Bennett said he expects to need surgery to repair a toe injury that slowed him during the latter part of the season. He played through the injury, dealing with significant pain. Bennett is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent, one the Bucs could have significant interest in retaining. Bennett maintains he'd like to return.

FINAL STATS: The Bucs finished the season with the league's 21st-ranked offense (16th passing, 30th rushing) and 30th-ranked defense (21st passing, 32nd rushing) among the 32 teams.

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