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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

Radio talk show (620-AM, 95.3-FM): Listen live

  1. Expect Bucs' Vernon Hargreaves to get plenty of reps


    TAMPA — Vernon Har­greaves spent a lot of time learning a new position this offseason, playing inside as a slot corner. Although he wasn't first on the rep chart, the Bucs' first-round draft pick this year most likely will be a starter on the depth chart by the time the regular season begins Sept. 11.

    "He's going to play," coach Dirk Koetter said Thursday as the team wrapped up its three-day mandatory minicamp. "The guy has made plays every single day. Vernon is the football player we thought (he was) when we drafted him. He's going to play. It will all fall in place. We're very confident Vernon can either play inside in the nickel or outside."...

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers first-round draft pick cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III (28) grabs ahold of wide receiver Bernard Reedy (15) during drills at an NFL football minicamp Tuesday, June 14, 2016, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) FLCO108
  2. Bucs believe TE Brate will be a weapon in the red zone


    Bucs tight end Cameron Brate made a sliding, one handed catch in the corner of the end zone Thursday, a reminder of how the once-released former Harvard free agent emerged as a favorite target for quarterback Jameis Winston a year ago.

    "Cam has got an uncanny ability to show up in the red zone and we saw that again today,'' coach Dirk Koetter said. "The defense also made a lot of plays. One of the best things about today, if you were paying attention early, in the two minute drill, (we had) unbelievable situations. The first group scored a touchdown, they called us for an illegal pick. The second group we got a penalty in their too, so penalties on the offense. Then we tried to get a field goal at the end. You can’t manufacture enough of those game ending situations. And even when we screw them up, and we do, to be able to go in and show them to the guys on tape and learn from them, because when they come up in real life, we’ve got to do better than we did today.''...

    Cameron Brate spent much of his rookie year on the Bucs' practice squad in 2014, catching a one pass for 17 yards.
  3. Impressive Hargreaves has earned big role with the Bucs


    Vernon Hargreaves spent a lot of time learning a new position this off-season, playing inside as a slot corner. Although he wasn't first on the rep chart, the Bucs' first-round pick most likely will be a starter on the depth chart by the time the regular season begins Sept. 11.

    “He’s going to play,'' coach Dirk Koetter said Thursday as the team wrapped up its three-day mandatory minicamp. "The guy has made plays every single day. Vernon is the football player we thought when we drafted him. He’s goig to play. It will all fall in place. We're very confident Vernon can either play inside in the nickel or outside.''...

    Vernon Hargreaves had an interception late in practice Wednesday and knocked down passes in the end zone during a red zone drill Thursday.
  4. Defensive lineman Ayers says Bucs defense improving


    TAMPA — Robert Ayers began the offseason calling the Bucs defense ''terrible,'' as players were learning the new system under defensive coordinator Mike Smith. So how much improvement does the Giants free agent think his new team has made as mandatory minicamp wraps up?

    "We're a little less terrible," Ayers said Wednesday. "We're getting better, and that's all we can ask for. We're trying to get to the end of the tunnel, so each day is a day to get better, a day to prepare, a day for me and my guys to get to know each other better and grow as a unit and build a chemistry....

    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 16:  Robert Ayers #91 of the New York Giants celebrates after sacking  Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers in the first quarter at MetLife Stadium on November 16, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
  5. Bucs WR Kenny Bell turning heads with minicamp TD grabs


    Kenny Bell had to play a little catch up this off-season after the former fifth-round pick from Nebraska spent his rookie year on injured reserve. But with Vincent Jackson taking some days off and Louis Murphy returning from a torn ACL, Bell has taken advantage of the extra work.

    On Wednesday, Bell kept showing up in the end zone during red zone drills, catching several touchdowns including two from quarterback Ryan Griffin....

    Kenny Bell kept showing up in the end zone during red zone drills, catching several touchdowns including two from quarterback Ryan Griffin.
  6. Ayers says Bucs defense 'less terrible,' learning quickly


    Even before he signed a contract with them, Giants free agent defensive end Robert Ayers looked at the Bucs and believed they were on the verge of winning.

    After nearly completing off-season workouts, he said the talent on the defensive line is even better than expected and gives the Bucs a real chance to compete.

    "I feel like we can compete," Ayers said Wednesday. "I'm not just saying that because I'm here now, but from the outside looking in, I always thought Tampa (Bay) man, they're right there. We've got some guys. The big three on offense, one of the best defensive tackles in the game with Gerald, Clinton (McDonald) who's been and underrated dog, Jacquies (Smith), who got hurt last year, but talking about pass rush, that guy was beasting until he got hurt. Noah (Spence) can play. Howard (Jones) is super-fast out there. Kourtnei Brown. Akeem (Spence). There's some talent, man. We've just got to do what we need to do, work to get better and I feel like we can kick anybody's ass. That's just my opinion....

  7. Winston finding daylight in making decisions on field


    TAMPA — Jameis Winston dropped back to pass, surveyed the field, cocked his right arm and did something he would have never attempted when faced with a similar situation last season. He ate the football. Decided to tuck and run.

    And without stretching the chains, you could measure how much the Bucs quarterback has grown in Year 2.

    "He knows way, way more than he did a year ago at this time," Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said after Tuesday's mandatory minicamp practice. "And also if you remember a year ago at this time, he was probably throwing three or four interceptions every single day (of practice) and you saw even when things broke down today, Jameis pulled the ball down and ran. That's one thing we've been working hard on is our scramble drill. I think that's an area that we've improved."...

    Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston enters his second NFL season 18 pounds lighter, which might lead to more elusiveness.
  8. Bucs QB Jameis Winston eager to do more in second season


    As a rookie, Jameis Winston had a bust-out season that ended with the Bucs quarterback in the Pro Bowl. But for all his accomplishments, he was a newbie to the NFL and the complex offense under Dirk Koetter.

    Imagine what he can do in year two.

    "The more comfortable I get with the offense, the more stuff they can give to me," Winston said. "The more stuff they can put in my hands to go out there and execute."...

    Jameis Winston and the Bucs' offense also thrived in the no-huddle offense and Dirk Koetter would like to add more of that in 2016.
  9. Jameis Winston to have more options, more no huddle


    For all the talk about his ability to run a pro style offense at Florida State, quarterback Jameis Winston was spoon fed the offense as a rookie by Dirk Koetter.

    Then the Bucs offensive coordinator and not yet the head coach, Koetter told Sports Illustrated he used a lot of max protections and limited Winston to half field reads early last season. He still had the ability to audible to a certain run or pass play based on coverage and alignment. But in his second season, Winston will now have some three play packages and blitz audibles....

  10. Bucs QB Jameis Winston to host football camp June 20-21


    Quarterback Jameis Winston will wrap up the Bucs' off-season with a three-day mandatory minicamp this week, but that doesn't mean he's putting the football down.

    The Pro Bowl passer will host the Jameis Winston ProCamp presented by Citi to be held on June 20-21 at Sunlake High School. The camp is open to boys and girls of all skill levels in grades 1-8. Cost of the camp is $149. Citi cardmembers receive 20 percent off their camp tuition....

  11. Bucs' Gerald McCoy uses his 'grand stage' to change lives


    Gerald McCoy knows what it's like not to have much money. Though both his parents worked, he watched his dad come home from an overtime shift, gas up the mower and go down the street to earn a few bucks cutting grass until dark.

    McCoy knows what it's like to be hungry. There were times his family would reach deep into the couch cushions at home in Oklahoma City and look under beds and in drawers for loose change to collect enough money for a meal....

    Gerald McCoy, the Bucs’ top draft pick in 2010, is entering his seventh season in Tampa Bay. Two years ago he signed a six-year, $95.2 million contract.
  12. All in: Bucs sign final draft pick in FSU's Roberto Aguayo


    The Bucs have now signed all seven of their 2016 draft picks, wrapping up the class Tuesday as former FSU kicker Roberto Aguayo, the second of Tampa Bay's second-round picks, signed his rookie contract.

    Financial terms weren't disclosed, but as the No. 59 overall pick in the draft, Aguayo is slotted to make $4.05 million over four years, including a $1.15 million signing bonus.

    The Bucs have cut their other kickers, Connor Barth and Patrick Murray, leaving Aguayo as the only kicker on roster. They coveted Aguayo enough that they traded away a fourth-round pick to move up 15 spots into the second-round to draft Aguayo, making him the highest-drafted kicker in team history....

    The Bucs coveted Roberto Aguayo enough that they traded away a fourth-round pick to move up 15 spots into the second-round to draft him.
  13. Bucs' Austin Seferian-Jenkins aims to stay on field


    TAMPA — Austin Seferian-Jenkins reached for the pass and clawed the football away from the defender before heading to the end zone. It was only the second snap from scrimmage during Thursday's practice, but it's the kind of highlight-reel play that has tantalized Bucs fans about the tight end.

    So much ability, and yet, Seferian-Jenkins' availability has been a different story.

    In two injury-plagued seasons, Seferian-Jenkins has played only 16 games. He is the guy always waiting for an anvil to fall on his head....

    The Bucs’ Austin Seferian-Jenkins has played in 16 games in two years because of injuries. He had a shoulder problem in ’15.
  14. Stroud: Three Bucs who need to bounce back in 2016


    It may feel like an eternity ago, but tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins was the Bucs' most dynamic receiver through the first two games last season with seven catches for 139 yards and two touchdowns. But if there ever was a player waiting for an anvil to fall out of the sky, it's Seferian-Jenkins. True to his NFL career, an shoulder injury derailed him for the next 10 weeks.

    Seferian-Jenkins, a second-round pick out of Washington in 2014, leads the group of Bucs players looking for big bounce-back seasons. Although he has shown flashes of brilliance, ASJ has played 16 games in two years....

  15. Coach Koetter thinks morning practices will keep Bucs fresher


    TAMPA — Bucs coach Dirk Koetter was an assistant in Jacksonville and Atlanta before coming to Tampa Bay, so he's no stranger to the summer heat. He's also not a huge fan of the effect it has on preparing football teams.

    That's why Koetter has decided the Bucs will have morning practices through the final preseason game, hoping the cooler temperatures will keep his team fresh throughout the season....

    Quarterback Jameis Winston warms up for the Bucs, who have gone 3-21 in December and January games over the past five years.