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. Injured Josh McCown likely out for Steelers game

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Bucs fans wanting a change at quarterback — which aside from coach Lovie Smith might seem like everybody in the free world — likely will get their wish.

    Josh McCown has a significantly sprained right thumb and will see a hand specialist Monday. All options remain open, but it's unlikely he will play next week at Pittsburgh.

    If he's out, then for the second straight season Mike Glennon will take over as the starter with the Bucs 0-3....

    ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 18: Quarterback Josh McCown #12 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers under pressure from cornerback Robert McClain #27 of the Atlanta Falcons after injuring his hand during a game at the Georgia Dome on September 18, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) 504234717
  2. McCown will see hand specialist, likely out vs. Steelers

    Blog

    Bucs fans wanting a change at quarterback may get their wish, but only because Josh McCown's thumb injury will likely force him to miss next Sunday's game at Pittsburgh.

    McCown, who has a significant sprain on the thumb on his right throwing hand, will see a hand specialist on Monday. All options remain open for the Bucs, but they could soon be preparing for backup Mike Glennon to be a longer-term option....

  3. Lovie Smith sticks with Josh McCown as Bucs QB

    Bucs

    TAMPA — After watching three wobbly performances by his quarterback, Lovie Smith's patience in Josh McCown remains unshakable.

    A day after the Bucs' 56-14 loss to the Falcons, the coach said McCown will start against the Steelers on Sept. 28 if healthy. McCown injured the thumb on his right (throwing) hand during the second quarter on a sack and did not return. He was scheduled to have an MRI exam Friday, and the team will have a better gauge of his status when players return to the practice facility Monday....

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh McCown (12) is under pressure from cornerback Robert McClain (27) of the Atlanta Falcons after injuring his hand during a game at the Georgia Dome on Thursday in Atlanta. {Getty Images]
  4. QB McCown will remain Bucs starter if healthy

    Blog

    Despite throwing four interceptions in three games, including one in the red zone and another returned for a touchdown, Josh McCown will remain the Bucs' starting quarterback, coach Lovie Smith said.

    McCown injured the right thumb on his throwing hand in Thursday's 56-14 loss at Atlanta and was forced to leave the game. He was undergoing an MRI Friday, Smith said. But if everything checks out okay, McCown will be under center against the Steelers Sept. 28....

  5. McDonald says Bucs feel shock and anger over rout

    Blog

    As if the Bucs didn't have enough time to dwell on their 56-14 loss to the Falcons Thursday night, their charter flight to Tampa was delayed until 3 a.m. Friday because of mechanical issues.

    Some players used the time to watch tape of one of the most lopsided defeats in franchise history.

    What was the mood among players?

    "I would think it's a sense of anger and a little bit of shock,'' defensive tackle Clinton McDonald said. "Anger because we put that kind of film on TV. Nobody wants to go out iin any game and display yourselves like that. Nobody. It's a thing of shock because we allowed it to happen. We owe the city more than that and we owe ourselves more than that. We've got to execute our job. We've got to go back to practice and put it together.''...

  6. Bucs routed by Falcons 56-14

    Bucs

    ATLANTA — As Devin Hester neared the goal line on his 62-yard punt return for a touchdown Thursday night, he decided to high-step his way into the end zone. It was a nod to his boyhood idol, Deion Sanders, who smiled in approval as he watched at the Georgia Dome.

    It was Hester's 20th career return for a touchdown, breaking Sanders' NFL record. While the Falcons strutted like "Prime Time" in prime time before a national TV audience, the Bucs were making historic — if not hysterical — marks for futility....

    Falcons running back Steven Jackson (39) leaps over Bucs defensive end William Gholston (92) during the first half. [AP photo]
  7. 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."...

    When MLB Mason Foster went down Sunday with a separated shoulder, Dane Fletcher, left, stepped in against Rams.
  8. 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]
  9. 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.
  10. 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?
  11. 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.
  12. 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 Mike Evans is slow to get up after catching a pass and taking a hit at the end of the 4th qtr prompting the ref to call an injury timeout and charging the Bucs ten seconds which ended the game during the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game against the Rams at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday afternoon 9/14/14.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.