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Tampa Bay Bucs: Raheem Morris gives young players a chance; Hofstra represented on roster; Jeff Faine loves high expectations; Sammie Stroughter all about staying healthy in 2011

Shoot for stars

C Jeff Faine acknowledged that, coming off a 10-6 season, expectations are as high as they've been since the 2002 Super Bowl season. And that's fine with him. "We still reach for the stars here," Faine said. "We believe that they're within our grasp. … I think there's enough talent here. It's young talent. It's got to be groomed and manicured, but I think there's enough talent to get it done for sure."

From football to futbol

While coach Raheem Morris couldn't speak much to what QB Josh Freeman and TE Kellen Winslow did in offseason workouts, he figured out the two have picked up another skill in video games. "(Freeman) and Kellen just played FIFA Soccer all summer," Morris said. "I don't know if they threw one pass to each other, but I know they certainly got good at FIFA Soccer."

Saving Sammie

WR Sammie Stroughter has made quite an impact in his two seasons with the Bucs, from his work as a slot receiver to his slickness in the kick-return game. But Stroughter, left, said the "biggest thing" for him in 2011 is staying healthy, having missed seven games the past two years due to hamstring and foot injuries. "It's about understanding and learning," he said. "Making sure if I did feel something, not pushing it, making sure I go see (the trainers) and seek the proper treatment."

Public practice

When: Today, 5:15-7:15

Where: One Buc Place, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, just east of Raymond James Stadium, Tampa

Admission: Free

Et cetera: All practices are weather permitting and subject to change. Go to for updates.

Practice and games schedule

Public practices

Wednesday: 2:30-4:35

Friday: 2:30-4:35

Saturday: 7-9 (Raymond James Stadium)

Aug. 9: 2:30-4:35

Aug. 14: 2:30-4:35


Aug. 12: at Kansas City, 8, Ch. 13

Aug. 18: Patriots, 7:30, Ch. 10*

Aug. 27: Dolphins, 7:30, Ch. 10*

Sept. 1: at Redskins, 7:30, Ch. 10

Regular season

Sept. 11: Lions, 1, Ch. 13*

Sept. 18: at Vikings, 1, Ch. 13

Sept. 25: Falcons, 4:15, Ch. 13*

Oct. 3: Colts, 8:30, ESPN*, Ch. 28*

Oct. 9: at 49ers, 4, Ch. 13

Oct. 16: Saints, 4:15, Ch. 13*

Oct. 23: Bears (London), 1, Ch. 13

Nov. 6: at Saints, 1, Ch. 13

Nov. 13: Texans, 1, Ch. 10*

Nov. 20: at Packers, 1, Ch. 13

Nov. 27: at Titans, 1, Ch. 13

Dec. 4: Panthers, 1, Ch. 13*

Dec. 11: at Jaguars, 1, Ch. 13

Dec. 17: Cowboys, 8:20, NFLN*, TBD*

Dec. 24: at Panthers, 1, Ch. 13

Jan. 1: at Falcons, 1, Ch. 13

* Broadcast subject to NFL blackout rules

Youth served

Coach Raheem Morris has been unafraid to throw young players into the fire. And with the youngest team in the league last season, the Bucs went from 3-13 to 10-6.

This year, several inexperienced players could start on each side of the ball.

"You look at guys that have success in this league — they're no-nonsense, no-excuse type of people," Morris said. "You look at (Patriots coach) Bill Belichick. I couldn't tell you a couple of people on his team last year, but they did nothing but win. You look at guys like (Steelers coach) Mike Tomlin. He loses big-time players and it really doesn't matter. He starts two rookie receivers in the Super Bowl."

Rookie S Ahmad Black, a former Gators star, appreciates Morris' meritocracy regarding playing time.

"That's the fair way to play," Black said. "If you're going to win, you put in the best guy, not who is the oldest or any other thing. Just go out and get a fresh start."

Alma mater of the day

While RB Kareem Huggins is not on the roster, another player from his alma mater (Hofstra) was added. TE Jose Cruz played at Hofstra until 2009, when its football program was shut down, then transferred to Syracuse. "It's going to be harder to find them," Morris said of former Hofstra players, of which he is one.

Joe Smith, Times staff writer

Tampa Bay Bucs: Raheem Morris gives young players a chance; Hofstra represented on roster; Jeff Faine loves high expectations; Sammie Stroughter all about staying healthy in 2011 07/31/11 [Last modified: Sunday, July 31, 2011 10:54pm]
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