Rick Stroud, Times Staff Writer

Rick Stroud

Rick Stroud covers the Bucs and the NFL for the Times. He joined the paper in 1983 after graduating from Arkansas St., where he played baseball. He has reported on national sporting events including more than 20 Super Bowls, the NCAA Final Four, and the Major League Baseball playoffs. While working as the beat writer assigned to the University of Florida at the Times, Stroud's stories documented NCAA rules violations by the football and basketball programs. He began covering the Bucs in 1990. Since then, the team has undergone seven coaching changes, the death of owner Hugh Culverhouse and the sale of the franchise to billionaire owner Malcolm Glazer and a stadium referendum and a Super Bowl XXVII victory. He co-hosts a sports talk show weekday mornings from 6-9 on WDAE 620-AM, 95.3-FM.

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E-mail: stroud@tampabay.com

Blog: Bucs Beat

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  1. Beaten up Bucs defense turns to Dane Fletcher

    Bucs

    ATLANTA — Dane Fletcher was an all-state linebacker at Bozeman High School in Montana and a talented catcher on the baseball team. But playing hockey as a goaltender was really his passion and focus from the time he was 4 years old.

    "Hockey was my thing," Fletcher said. "I thought hockey was my ticket. I just got stressed out my senior year in high school. … I just put a lot of pressure on myself. I was playing at a high level through high school. It was just a lot. I was over it. So I fell back on football and luckily it worked out."...

    Dane Fletcher, who will be responsible tonight for directing the defense against the No. 1 offense in the NFL. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  2. Falcons coach wary of Bucs' Bobby Rainey

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Falcons coach Mike Smith didn't need to see RB Bobby Rainey's 144-yard game Sunday to know the Bucs backup's potential. Smith saw it last year, when Rainey ran for 163 yards in a 41-28 win over Atlanta.

    "That was kind of his coming-out party," Smith said. "… There's not a whole lot of area to hit. You've got shoulder pads and knees — that's about it. He's very compact."...

    Bobby Rainey runs up the middle for seven yards during the Bucs' loss to the Rams. [DIRK SHADD | Times]
  3. McCoy, Bucs weigh risk-reward of playing with broken hand

    Blog

    Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy had no wrap or cast on his broken left hand, but he and the Bucs still are weighing whether he should play Thursday at Atlanta and risk further injury.

    Working against McCoy and the Bucs is the short turnaround before their game against the Falcons and the belief that a cast would limit the use of his hand and productivity.

    "We're trying to figure out the best way to keep it protected,'' McCoy said Tuesday. "Obviously, it's better if I'm out there but still a long season....

    Gerald McCoy was injured on the Bucs' eighth defensive play against the Rams Sunday trying to beat a double-team.
  4. Urlacher to Bucs? Not this week, but not off the radar

    Blog

    Former Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher resigned his job as a broadcaster job at Fox Sports 1 Tuesday and the Bucs have an injury to starting middle linebacker Mason Foster.

    Will Urlacher be reunited with Lovie Smith in Tampa Bay?

    Not this week, at least.

    The Bucs plan to go with backup middle linebacker Dane Fletcher in Thursday night's game at Atlanta. Fletcher had two tackles and a forced fumble in Sunday's 19-17 loss to the St. Louis Rams....

    Will Brian Urlacher be reunited with Lovie Smith in Tampa Bay?
  5. Bucs defense lacking so far

    Bucs

    TAMPA — The winning formula that first-year coach Lovie Smith sold to the Bucs includes pressuring the quarterback using only four defensive linemen, forcing turnovers, solid special teams and creating a homefield advantage.

    Those key elements have been missing during an 0-2 start.

    The Bucs have only three sacks and are next to last in the NFL with one takeaway. In Sunday's 19-17 loss to the Rams, they had a punt and field goal blocked while losing their second straight at Raymond James Stadium....

    All-Pro defensive tackle Gerald McCoy broke his left hand Sunday against the Rams.
  6. Bucs fall to Rams on late field goal

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Crunch time came Sunday with 15 seconds remaining in the game, when Bucs rookie Mike Evans felt his back crushed by the hit of safety T.J. McDonald, tackled after catching a 29-yard pass at the Rams 32.

    There was plenty of time for quarterback Josh McCown to spike the ball and kicker Patrick Murray to try what would have been about a 50-yard field goal to win the game.

    "I was a little disoriented trying to get up," Evans said....

    Bucs qtr back Josh McCown throws an interception in the 2nd qtr. during the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game against the Rams at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday afternoon 9/14/14.
  7. Derrick Brooks relishes spot in Bucs Ring of Honor

    Bucs

    TAMPA — The call came a few hours before kickoff last Sunday, and Derrick Brooks had no plans to go to the game.

    After all, in one more week, it would be his day, his moment to be inducted into the Bucs' Ring of Honor. He planned to watch the Bucs-Panthers regular-season opener on television from his home in north Tampa.

    But Brooks couldn't resist the urge to be back in Raymond James Stadium with Lovie Smith, with Hardy Nickerson, the way it was for so many of those early fall Sundays in his NFL career....

    The Bucs will induct former linebacker Derrick Brooks into their Ring of Honor during halftime of today’s game against the Rams.
  8. Doug Martin still key part of Bucs' offense

    Bucs

    TAMPA

    One play after injuring his left knee against the Panthers last week, Bucs running back Doug Martin returned to the huddle to assess the damage. But a pass play was called for the next snap. And Martin whiffed on the blitz pickup of linebacker Luke Kuechly, who sacked Josh McCown to take the Bucs out of field goal range during a 20-14 loss. "I wanted to see where I stood. Unfortunately, it didn't end up well on my end," Martin said. "I don't make excuses for myself, but I'd like to have that one back." Martin was held to a career-low 9 yards on as many rushes by the Panthers and did not return after the sack early in the third quarter. Last week, a blogger for USA Today, using unnamed sources, tweeted that Martin was benched for the blocking mistake, not the knee injury....

    Doug Martin, being tackled by Panthers end Greg Hardy, ran for only 9 yards last week before hurting his knee. But he is expected to start today.
  9. Bucs aim to ramp up pressure on opposing QBs

    Bucs

    TAMPA — The sack-happy Buccaneers, they were not Sunday. Sack glad or sack satisfied even would be a stretch.

    After getting almost no pressure on the quarterback in the 20-14 loss to the Panthers, the Bucs on Wednesday announced the signing of veteran free agent defensive end Larry English and claimed rookie defensive end Jacquies Smith of Missouri off waivers from the Bills.

    Injuries played a role in last weekend's performance as well, in which defensive tackle Gerald McCoy had the Bucs' only sack late in the fourth quarter. Defensive end Michael Johnson sprained his ankle on the third play of the game but managed to finish. He did not practice Wednesday. Defensive ends/tackles Da'Quan Bowers and Will Gholston were inactive with injuries....

    The Bucs got almost no pressure on backup quarterback Derek Anderson during their 20-14 loss to the Panthers on Sunday.
  10. Bucs have numerous problems on offense

    Bucs

    TAMPA — For all the mystery surrounding it, the Bucs offense turned out to be an open book, an easy read Sunday.

    As a result, the Carolina defense trampled the run, got pressure on nearly every pass and were threatened only once down the field in a 20-14 win over the Bucs.

    After throwing two interceptions in his first 16 passes, quarterback Josh McCown rallied in the second half with two touchdown passes to bring the Bucs within a field goal by spreading the field with one back and three or four receivers....

    Bucs quarterback Josh McCown is hit by Panthers defensive end Wes Horton.
  11. Tedford returns to work full-time, will call plays vs. Rams

    Blog

    Bucs offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford returned to work full-time Monday and is expected to call the plays against the Rams.

    Tedford, 52, who underwent a coronary angioplasty to have two stents placed in an artery near his heart, served as an 'extra pair of eyes,' Sunday for quarterbacks coach Marcus Arroyo, who called plays in the Bucs' 20-14 loss to the Carolina Panthers.

    Bucs coach Lovie Smith said Tedford was in the office early Monday morning and expected to return to his regular work schedule....

    Bucs coach Lovie Smith said Jeff Tedford, pictured, was in the office early Monday morning and expected to return to his regular work schedule.
  12. Bucs lose opener to Panthers, 20-14

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Before the Bucs' furious comeback fell short in the final eight minutes Sunday, before safety Dashon Goldson dropped a pass from Carolina fill-in quarterback Derek Anderson at the Panthers 30 while trailing by a field goal, before running back Bobby Rainey lost a fumble with 87 seconds remaining to send 62,442 at Raymond James Stadium to the exits, something unexpected happened that spoiled coach Lovie Smith's debut....

    Carolina's Kelvin Benjamin (13) beats Bucs Mike Jenkins (24) for a TD during the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game against the Panthers at Raymond James on Sunday afternoon 9/7/2014.
  13. Jeff Tedford at Bucs game, won't call plays

    Sports

    Two hours before kickoff between the Bucs and Carolina, offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford arrived at Raymond James Stadium but said he will not be calling plays today.

    Tedford, 52, said he recently underwent a coronary angioplasty to have two stents placed in an artery near his heart.

    Quarterbacks coach Marcus Arroyo, who spent two seasons at California as quarterbacks coach/passing coordinator when Tedford was head coach of the Golden Bears, will call the plays against the Panthers from field level....

  14. Tedford had heart procedure : "I will be an extra pair of eyes'

    Blog

    Two hours before kickoff between the Bucs and Carolina, offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford arrived at Raymond James Stadium but said he will not be calling plays today.

    Tedford, 52, said he recently underwent a coronary angioplasty to have two stents placed in an artery near his heart.

    Quarterbacks coach Marcus Arroyo, who spent two seasons at California as quarterbacks coach/passing coordinator when Tedford was head coach of the Golden Bears, will call the plays against the Panthers from field level....

  15. New Bucs coach Lovie Smith and new Bucs QB Josh McCown trust each other

    Bucs

    Josh McCown folded his 6-foot-5 body into a cushioned seat in the players' lounge at One Buc Place, his youthful face and full mop of strawberry blond hair worthy of a poster in the window of Abercrombie and Fitch. • But at 35, the Bucs' starting quarterback is old enough to be president. • Playing for his seventh NFL team, McCown still is appreciative of the trust shown in him by new Bucs coach Lovie Smith, who twice before (in 2011 and 2012) brought him back from football extinction to be the backup with the Bears. • The truth is McCown never expected to find himself in this position. He never had the strongest arm, threw the most accurate passes or won the most games. Heck, the five starts he made for the Bears last season were his most in nearly a decade. • Turns out the one thing McCown did better than any other quarterback was age. "I don't know why I'm still physically like this," McCown said, shaking his head. "I've always joked I'm a late bloomer. I'm blessed." • The history of the NFL is told by coach-quarterback unions. There is probably no relationship in sports more complicated or symbiotic. The foundation must be built on trust. Just one little crack, a fissure of doubt, and the entire locker room can split and erode a team's chances like waves hitting a sand castle....

    Josh McCown cheers next to coach Lovie Smith after a touchdown in the Bucs' preseason game against the Dolphins. [JIM DAMASKE | Times]