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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.



Blog: Bucs Beat

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  1. Bucs crumble against Browns


    TAMPA — In what likely will be the final dress rehearsal before the regular-season opener for the Bucs' starters and rookie quarterback Jameis Winston, the Browns undressed them. Winston was sacked four times, pressured into throwing an interception and did not see the field as well as he had in the two previous preseason games.

    Call it the flaw of averages.

    The up-and-down result of playing rookies at quarterback, left tackle and right guard caught up to the Bucs in Saturday's 31-7 loss to Cleveland at Raymond James Stadium. Winston completed only 6 of 15 for 90 yards and the interception....

    Browns tight end Jim Dray is tackled by Lavonte David (54), who leads the Bucs with five tackles and an assist.
  2. Connor Barth returns to Bucs full of confidence


    TAMPA — K Connor Barth is so confident in his abilities, the new 33-yard extra point doesn't bother him. He has never missed a field goal from that distance or closer.

    If Barth had his way, the NFL would make the target smaller.

    "I wanted to just narrow the uprights," Barth said Friday. "That would be cool. It'd make play-calling different. It would make guys who are a little bit more accurate … to really thrive."...

    TP_359846_WALL_Bucs_23 (11/11/2012  Tampa) Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Connor Barth (10) kicks a 45 yard field goal in the fourth quarter to help seal a 34-24 victory of the San Diego Chargers. SECOND HALF ACTION: The San Diego Chargers play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won 34-24. [DANIEL WALLACE, Times]
  3. Connor Barth, 29, signed a two-year, $2.75-million contract with the Bucs and will have two preseason games to convince the team to give him his old job back.
  4. Bucs D-coordinator Frazier fine with coach Love Smith calling defensive plays


    TAMPA — Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier confirmed what Lovie Smith has been reluctant to say: The Bucs' head coach is handling the defensive play-calling duties this season.

    Frazier also said he's fine with the arrangement.

    "(Lovie) is going to be heavily involved as he's always been with our defense, and he's going to do the majority of the defensive play-calling," Frazier said Thursday. "It really doesn't change my role from a year ago, it really doesn't. My role is to come in and help our defense and help them prepare for every ball game and help our team win. It really doesn't change anything I have to get done."...

    Bucs defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, left, says he’s fine with coach Lovie Smith handling the defensive play-calling duties. “It really doesn’t change anything I have to get done,” Frazier says.
  5. Bucs defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, left, and head coach Lovie Smith during practice earlier this month at One Buc Place.
  6. Bucs want Winston to play hard but protect himself



    The Bucs know they need to improve their blocking for quarterback Jameis Winston. But he has to do a better job of protecting himself.

    Winston sprained his right ankle in Monday's 25-11 preseason win over the Bengals when he tripped over the feet of center Jeremiah Warren and was sandwiched between defensive linemen Geno Atkins and Wallace Gilberry. The injury was not serious, and he is expected to start Saturday against the Browns....

    Winston learns a lesson about sliding against the Vikings during the preseason opener.
  7. Jameis Winston suffered a sprained right ankle in Monday night’s 25-11 preseason win over the Bengals.
  8. Analysis: Turnovers hold key to Bucs' turnaround



    With the team meeting room serving as his pulpit, Lovie Smith delivers the same emotional speech as nearly every other NFL coach.

    He preaches getting turnovers.

    Saying a Hail Mary is not nearly as important as intercepting one. And the man upstairs — in this case defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier — is always watching.

    So perhaps it's no surprise that entering their second season under Smith, the Bucs are true believers. They caused three fumbles in their preseason loss Aug. 15 at Minnesota. Then in Monday night's 25-11 win over the Bengals at Raymond James Stadium, Tampa Bay intercepted two passes — including one returned for a touchdown by cornerback Alterraun Verner — and forced a fumble....

    Bucs cornerback Alterraun Verner intercepts a pass by Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton on Monday, then gets set to return it for a score. “You transition from defense to offense right away,” Tampa Bay coach Lovie Smith said. “On Alterraun Verner’s (return), that was a good escort to the end zone. Some good blocks on there.”
  9. Bucs Shepard could have bigger role in offense



    Russell Shepard had two catches for 44 yards, including a 22-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Mike Glennon on a fade route during an all-out blitz by the Bengals Monday.
  10. Winston's ankle okay, shows improvement in win vs. Bengal


    Jameis Winston's legs have carried him to the end zone twice this preseason, but it's his right arm that has the Bucs excited about their rookie quarterback.

    Winston showed complete command in his second NFL start in Monday night's 25-11 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, giving Lovie Smith his first victory at Raymond James Stadium.

    Winston completed 8-of-13 passes for 90 yards and scored on a 1-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. He went 3-for-3 on the drive that was helped by Doug Martin's 53 yards rushing. The Bucs first overall pick also spread the football around, targeting eight receivers with his first eight passes Monday....

    Jameis Winston left the game early in the second quarter, several plays after he appeared to sprain his right ankle following a sack by Geno Atkins and Wallace Gilberry.
  11. Jameis Winston, Bucs offense looks better against Bengals



    The air seemed to rush out of Raymond James Stadium early in the second quarter Monday night when Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston was sandwiched between Bengals defensive linemen Geno Atkins and Wallace Gilberry, his right foot caught beneath them.

    The Bucs' No. 1 overall pick limped until the end of the possession, and though he did not return, the injury isn't considered serious....

    Doug Martin breaks free for a 30-yard gain in the first quarter, setting up Jameis Winston’s diving TD run two plays later.
  12. Even in preseason, Bucs hungry for home victory


    TAMPA — Jameis Winston knows nobody gets too caught up in the final score of NFL preseason games. Starters don't play very long. Some exchange a helmet for a ball cap before the fans' first beer gets warm. It's treated more like a movie trailer, a simple preview of coming attractions.

    But Winston believes tonight's preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Raymond James Stadium — televised on Monday Night Football no less — should count for something....

    Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston passes against Minnesota during his preseason debut on Aug. 15.
  13. Bucs rookie Ali Marpet, family living their wildest dreams



    Ali Marpet walked to the crowd of fans pressed against the orange snow fence surrounding the field at One Buc Place after a training camp practice.

    His attack was premeditated.

    The Bucs' 6-foot-4, 307-pound rookie guard singled out a young blond who virtually disappeared in his meaty arms.

    "Ew! You're soaked (in sweat)!" screamed his sister Zena, helpless in her attempt to escape holding by the lineman....

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive lineman Ali Marpet (74), center, joins his team on the field during the Bucs training camp on Wednesday (8/19/15) in Tampa.
  14. Bucs must improve line play on both sides


    TAMPA — Quarterbacks and more rules to protect them have turned the NFL into an arms race. But it's still the hand-to-hand combat taking place in the trenches that determines games. To that end, the Bucs need to improve — now — on both sides of the ball.

    Start with rookie LT Donovan Smith, who was beaten for a sack by an inside spin move in the 26-16 preseason-opening loss to the Vikings on Aug. 15....

    Buccaneers tackle Donovan Smith (76), left, blocks guard Jamal Young (67) during a drills in training camp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa on Thursday, August 20, 2015. OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times 

  15. Lovie Smith to call Bucs' defensive plays


    TAMPA — Lovie Smith wears a lot of headsets. Bucs head coach. Personnel chief with control over the 53-man roster. And now another one: defensive play-caller.

    Smith has decided to take over those duties from defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, a move he had been considering since going 2-14 in his first season in Tampa Bay last year. Smith declined to comment Thursday on how the Bucs plan to execute their defense, but his play-calling role was evident in Thursday's practice....

    Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, left, with coach Lovie Smith, was criticized for 2014’s defensive struggles.