TAMPA — Standing 5 feet 7 and 182 pounds, Patrick Murray might be the most unassuming player in the locker room, but he's quietly making a case for one of the biggest roles on the Bucs.
Murray, a 23-year-old who was among the first players signed after Lovie Smith was hired in January, is challenging veteran kicker Connor Barth.
"I think he's a kicker that belongs in the league," Smith said Thursday after practice. "He's got talent, he can boom it, he's been consistent. … I think there's room for him in the league. There's 32 kickers, and I think he belongs in one of those spots."...
TAMPA — Trying to make the most of the last spots on the 53-player roster, the Bucs traded backup S Kelcie McCray to the Chiefs on Thursday in exchange for Rishaw Johnson, a backup offensive guard.
"We said we'll continue to look at players we think can help our football team … so we're pretty excited about getting Rishaw Johnson here into the mix," coach Lovie Smith said....
Trying to make the most of the last spots on the 53-man roster, the Bucs traded backup safety Kelcie McCray to the Chiefs on Thursday in exchange for Rishaw Johnson, a backup offensive guard.
"We said we'll continue to look at players we think can help our football team ... so we're pretty excited about getting Rishaw Johnson here into the mix," coach Lovie Smith said.
Johnson, 25, is 6-foot-3 and 313 pounds and has limited NFL playing experience -- he started the regular-season finale for Kansas City last year, playing all 72 snaps as the team rested key starters in advance of the playoffs. Before that, he had just three offensive snaps in two games in his career, having spent time on the Seahawks' practice squad in 2012. He started his college career at Ole Miss but was dismissed from the team for a violation of team rules in September 2010 and finished at Division II California University of Pennsylvania....
TAMPA — Da'Quan Bowers' disappointing career with the Bucs could be nearing an end.
Bowers, the oft-injured defensive lineman, is nursing a groin strain that's hurting his chance of making the team, coach Lovie Smith said.
Bowers, who had three tackles (including one for a loss) and a quarterback hit in the preseason opener Aug. 8 at Jacksonville, did not play Saturday against the Dolphins and hasn't practiced in more than a week. It was uncertain Wednesday whether he would play Saturday at Buffalo....
TAMPA -- The NFL has expanded each team's practice squad from eight to 10 players for the 2014 and 2015 seasons, and Bucs coach Lovie Smith said he likes the idea of being able to keep more players with the team.
"That's an easy one, a coach getting more players," Smith said. "I think it's a great thing. There are a lot of young players that just aren't ready, for whatever reason. I'd say it's universal in all the coaches loving that decision."...
Bucs defensive linemen have been blunt in saying how much they prefer Lovie Smith's defensive approach, compared to what the team tried to do last year under coach Greg Schiano.
Asked how he'd evaluate last year's pass rush on Wednesday in the locker room, defensive end Adrian Clayborn didn't mince words.
"Our rush, on defensive line? What rush?" Clayborn said. "It wasn't that great. We weren't jelled together. We weren't working together. A lot went on. I expect better this year."...
Three days before the Bucs' third preseason game, the team has gotten a jump on next week's required cuts, releasing veteran receiver Lavelle Hawkins, who caught a touchdown in the final minute of Saturday's loss to Miami.
Hawkins, who had played for offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford at Cal, has lasted in the NFL by contributing on special teams, and he said Tuesday that he wasn't working on any of the Bucs' special-teams units. By cutting him early, the Bucs give Hawkins a better chance to latch on with another team and show something before next week's final cuts....
TAMPA -- In NFL parlance, the offensive grouping is called "12 personnel."
The NFL tags its offensive looks with a two-digit number by counting the running backs and tight ends -- a formation with one back, two tight ends and two receives is called "12 personnel."
A year ago, with injuries putting all but one tight end (rookie Tim Wright) on injured reserve, the Bucs rarely went with two tight ends, lining up that way on less than 10 percent of their offensive snaps, according to FootballOutsiders.com. Since then, the Bucs drafted Washington's Austin Seferian-Jenkins, signed free agent Brandon Myers and got back a healthy Luke Stocker, who missed last year with injury....
TAMPA — Four days before the most important game of the Bucs' preseason schedule, six players listed on the defensive two-deep depth chart were held out of Tuesday's practice with various injuries.
The newest addition to the list was DE Michael Johnson, who has a knee bruise, joined as a spectator in defensive line drills by Will Gholston (shoulder) and Da'Quan Bowers (groin). The other cluster of injuries is in the defensive secondary, where CB Mike Jenkins (hamstring) remains out, as does S Major Wright (back) and CB Rashaan Melvin (ankle)....
TAMPA -- Bucs rookie Kadeem Edwards isn't working with the first-team offensive line, but the fifth-round pick has worked hard in camp to learn both guard spots after playing exclusively on the left side in college.
"Working on the right is a good thing, and I'm learning the playbook on both sides," he said. "There's so much detail at this level, and I'm trying to home in on the details to get everything correct."...
Four days before the most important game of the Bucs' preseason schedule, nine players were held out of Tuesday's practice with various injuries, including six players listed on the defensive side of the two-deep depth chart.
The newest addition to the list is defensive end Michael Johnson, who has a knee bruise, joined as a spectator at defensive line drills with fellow ends Will Gholston (shoulder) and Da'Quan Bowers (groin). The other cluster of injuries is in the defensive secondary, where cornerback Mike Jenkins remains out with a hamstring, as does safety Major Wright (back) and corner Rashaan Melvin (ankle)....
TAMPA — To understand how Patrick Omameh is making a name for himself as the player to beat at right guard for the Bucs, just listen to his head coach.
Lovie Smith's praise of the second-year lineman hasn't changed since Saturday's preseason game, but his pronunciation of the 24-year-old's last name has evolved.
Sunday, it was uh-MOH-me. Monday, it was oh-MOH-may, and the coach stopped himself....
Lots of coverage to share from Saturday's preseason home opener, which saw the Bucs jump out to a 7-3 lead -- nearly a 14-3 lead -- only to trail 20-7 before scoring in the final seconds of a 20-14 loss to the Dolphins.
Here's Rick Stroud's game story, focusing on the takeaway-touchdown formula the Bucs showed a glimpse of. Tom Jones writes that the Bucs need to get Doug Martin more involved as an offensive centerpiece this fall. Joey Knight writes on Mike Evans' touchdown that wasn't, a major momentum shift in the Bucs' loss. And here are your Bucs notes, from Gerald McCoy's strong start to a bunch of injuries and improved play from the first-team offensive line....
TAMPA — The first-team defense stayed only five plays into the second quarter, but Gerald McCoy continued his dominant play, getting a sack and forced fumble to set up a touchdown Saturday night.
McCoy had three tackles — two for losses —- and a quarterback hurry in his limited action, but came up with the first splash play of the preseason. He got to QB Ryan Tannehill and forced a fumble that DE Michael Johnson recovered at the Miami 25....
TAMPA — Eight days after losing to the Jaguars in their preseason opener, the Bucs make their first home appearance under new coach Lovie Smith tonight at Raymond James Stadium. Whether you're in the stands or watching at home, here are five things to keep an eye on when you're not complaining about uniform numbers.
1. The offensive line. Early struggles were the biggest concern last week, with penalties and pressure that played a role in two Josh McCown turnovers....