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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.

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E-mail: stroud@tampabay.com

Blog: Bucs Beat

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

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  1. Roberto Aguayo faces stiff test to keep Bucs' placekicker job

    Bucs

    TAMPA — The wind is never going to be at Roberto Aguayo's back when he lines up for a field goal or extra point this offseason in his quest to remain the Bucs' kicker.

    Quite frankly, short of putting everything through the uprights, it's hard to imagine what Aguayo will have to do to keep his job.

    Aguayo, 23, suffered through a disappointing rookie season, and the scrutiny reached the front offices at One Buc Place....

    Roberto Aguayo, coming off a rookie season in which he had an NFL-worst 71 percent field-goal accuracy, made only 1 of 4 Tuesday on the narrow goalposts at One Buc Place as he begins his battle to keep his job.
  2. Bucs' Doug Martin relying on strength from drug rehab to power his return

    Bucs

    TAMPA — He would not talk about the drug he abused. He would not identify the rehab facility he entered in January or how long he was there.

    "I was there long enough. I was there to point where I'm strong now," Doug Martin said Thursday. "Mentally strong and physically strong."

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin participates in an "open OTA practice" at One Buc Place, the team's training facility, in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, May 23, 2017.
  3. Bucs suspended RB Doug Martin breaks his silence and says his drug problem is 'definitely behind me.'

    Blog

    He would not talk about the drug he abused. He didn’t identify the rehab facility he entered last January or how long he was there.

    “I was there long enough. I was there to point where I’m strong now,’’ Martin said Thursday. “Mentally strong and physically strong.’’

    Speaking for the first time since being suspended four games for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancing drugs last Jan., Martin was contrite but optimistic about returning to the form he demonstrated as the NFL's second leading rusher two years ago....

    Doug Martin was contrite but optimistic about returning to the form he demonstrated as the NFL's second leading rusher two years ago.
  4. Koetter: Don't read too much into one day of Aguayo misses

    Sports

    TAMPA — The goal posts still seem to be moving for Roberto Aguayo.

    The second-year Bucs placekicker, who is in a battle with veteran newcomer Nick Folk, went 1-for-4 in field goals from 35-40 yards Tuesday on a set of narrow uprights, the first day of full squad offseason workouts.

    Folk was 4-for-4 from the same distance. The uprights are 8½ feet wide instead of the regulation 18½ feet and at least two of Aguayo's kicks would have been good in a game....

  5. Bucs Roberto Aguayo kicks off 2017 on the wrong foot

    Blog

    The goal posts still seem to be moving for Roberto Aguayo.

    The Bucs woebegone place-kicker, who is in a battle with veteran Nick Folk, went 1-for-4 in field goal tries from 35-40 yards Tuesday on a set of narrow uprights, the first day of full squad Organized Team Activities.

    If that weren’t bad enough for Aguayo, by contrast, Folk was 4-for-4 from the same distance. It’s important to note that the uprights are 8 ½ feet in width instead of the regulation 18 ½ feet and at least two of Aguayo’s kicks would’ve been good in a game.

    Bucs general manager Jason Licht and coached Dirk Koetter have vowed to move on from Aguayo, the team’s second-round pick from Florida State in 2016, if Folk is better.  They also hedged their bets by guaranteeing Folk $750,000 of his $1.75-million salary.

    Aguayo was last in the NFL by making only 71 percent of his field goal tries (22 of 31) as a rookie last season . More strikingly, his longest made kick was 43 yards. In fact, he was 4-of-11 from 40 yards or longer.

    Folk, 32, is a career 81.3 percent field goal kicker and 23 of 39 from 50 yards or longer.

    Koetter was quick to say that the Bucs won’t be making a decision based on one practice.

    “Well, I guess that’s the fallacy of having the media at practice every day, isn’t it?’’ Koetter said. “I don’t think we should probably decide any competition based on four kicks. Nick got the best of it today and they’ll be out there going at it again tomorrow.”

    Assuming Koetter and Licht have the stomach for it, this kicking competition could go until the final preseason game and will almost certainly catch the camera eye of Hard Knocks....

    Roberto Aguayo went 1-for-4 in field goal tries from 35-40 yards Tuesday on a set of narrow uprights.
  6. Tampa lands Super Bowl in 2021

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Record rainfall in Los Angeles ultimately may end Tampa Bay's drought of hosting the Super Bowl.

    NFL owners voted unanimously in a one-day meeting in Chicago on Tuesday to shift Super Bowl LV, which will be played in February 2021, from Los Angeles to Tampa.

    The decision came five days after the Rams and Chargers announced that heavy rainfall in southern California had delayed construction and pushed the opening of the stadium they will share in Inglewood, Calif., back one year until 2020....

    Mike Tomlin celebrates with LaMarr Woodley and Troy Polamalu after the Steelers beat the Cardinals in 


Super Bowl XLIII  on February 1, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. [Times files (2009)
  7. Why Ryan Fitzpatrick may solve the puzzle for Bucs at backup quarterback

    Blog

    Ryan Fitzpatrick will have to leave One Buc Place following Thursday’s off-season workout and fly home to New Jersey in time to teach a class of 10 second and third grade students how to solve the Rubiks Cube.

    “It’s a hobby of mine that I have a lot of fun with and there’s a ton of interest in my son’s school,’’ Fitzpatrick said. “I think right now, we’re up to six of the 10 who can do it. None of them can beat me yet but there’s one girl who is awfully close. So Sabrina, I hope you’re not practicing.’’...

    The Bucs are hoping Ryan Fitzpatrick can provide the solution to their puzzle at backup quarterback behind starter Jameis Winston.
  8. Bucs' O.J. Howard ends big day with BP, first pitch for Rays

    Blog

    Bucs tight end O.J. Howard is known for his athleticism at 6-foot-6, 251-pounds. As an outfielder, he took his Autuaga Academy High School baseball team to the state tournament in Alabama as a junior.

    On Monday, after a little instruction from Steven Souza, Jr., the left-handed hitting Howard started making good contact in the batting cage before throwing out the first pitch in the Rays-Angels game at Tropicana Field.

    There was a time, before enrolling early at Alabama and forgoing his senior seaosn in baseball, when Howard dreamed of a career on the diamond.    

    "It could've been, it's cool to be around it again, definitely I loved it when I played it back in high school, and since I got to college I haven't played it, so I'm having withdrawals a little bit,'' Howard said. "It's a fun game. I'd probably play right, rightfield or leftfield.''

    Howard's decision to concentrate on football already is paying off. On Monday, the Bucs' first-round pick signed a four-year contract. Terms of the deal were not released but it is projected to be worth more than $11-million with a signing bonus of more than $6.2-million.

    "It feels great, that's something that you look forward to doing, and to finally get it out of the way and sign on the dotted line is definitely very exciting and very encouraging,'' Howard said. "So I was excited it happened today.

    "Its exciting because sometimes you see a lot of guys who hold out for a while before they get signed, we had good parties on both ends that were very cooperative and that's the reason it happened so fast.''

    Howard said he is anxious to begin full squad acitivities in OTA's which begin Tuesday. 

    "We got to do a little bit of that last week so now we have OTAs tomorrow and thats very exciting to finally just to finally put everybody on the field together at the same time and work on communiucation,'' Howard said....

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers first round draft pick OJ Howard throws the ceremonial first pitch of the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Angels at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Monday, May 22, 2017.
  9. Ryan Fitzpatrick likes Bucs weapons, believes he's a good fit

    Blog

    Ryan Fitzpatrick’s experience playing for six other NFL teams is what made him attractive to the Bucs as a backup to starter Jameis Winston. But if he has to play, the former Jets quarterback is happy about all the weapons on Tampa Bay’s offense.

    "I thought it was a great opportunity for me to come to a team that's really on the rise, with a great young quarterback in Jameis, just to come and try to provide some of my experiences," Fitzpatrick told the team’s website Monday. "I just met him for the first time today. He seems like a great kid, though, lots of energy. I'm very excited to work with him and I think he's excited to have me here. We'll get to work pretty soon....

    Ryan Fitzpatrick is happy about all the weapons on Tampa Bay’s offense.
  10. Starting at top: O.J. Howard becomes first Bucs rookie to sign

    Blog

    The Bucs have begun the process of signing their rookie draft picks and they started at the top.

    Alabama tight end O.J. Howard, the team’s first round pick (19th overall), has signed a four-year contract with a fifth-year club option.

    Terms of the deal were not released but it is projected to be worth $11.2-million with about $6.2-million to sign.

    Howard is the first member of the Bucs’ rookie class to sign with the Bucs. He was projected to be a top 10 pick in the NFL draft last April. But a run on quarterbacks, running backs and receivers unexpectedly pushed him down to the Bucs. They had not even included Howard in their 30 player visits to the team’s training facility prior to the draft....

    Alabama tight end O.J. Howard has signed a four-year contract with a fifth-year club option with the Bucs.
  11. Bucs putting pressure on WR DeSean Jackson to live up to contract

    Bucs

    TAMPA — If you think the Bucs will pressure WR DeSean Jackson to live up to his contract, well, you're right on the money.

    At least that's the message from offensive coordinator/receivers coach Todd Monken to the 30-year-old Jackson, who signed a three-year, $33.5 million contract as a Redskins free agent in March with $20 million guaranteed.

    The Bucs have a pretty good group of receivers with Mike Evans, Adam Humphries and Chris Godwin, a third-round pick from Penn State. But by far the biggest addition this offseason was Jackson, whose speed should draw some defensive heat off Evans and help stretch the field for QB Jameis Winston....

    DeSean Jackson had 56 catches for 1,005 yards for Washington last season but only four TDs, a number the Bucs hope will rise.
  12. What the Ryan Fitzpatrick signing says about the Bucs' expectations

    Bucs

    TAMPA — It's a bad idea. What are the Bucs thinking? This is simply not the right guy to be the No. 2 quarterback to sit behind franchise savior Jameis Winston. Not with that beard. Not in this heat.

    Aside from that, Ryan Fitzpatrick would seem to be a perfect fit for the Bucs.

    He's 34. He's played and started for six NFL teams. Only two seasons ago, Fitzpatrick passed for 3,905 yards and 31 touchdowns while leading the New York Jets to a 10-6 record....

    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ OCTOBER 12 Ryan Fitzpatrick #11 of the Cincinnati Bengals passes the ball against the New York Jets on October 12, 2008 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.   (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
  13. Bucs opt for experience by signing Ryan Fitzpatrick

    Bucs

    No longer content to enter training camp without an experienced backup for Jameis Winston, the Bucs have signed vagabond veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick.

    The 34-year-old Fitzpatrick, who was a starter the past two seasons for the Jets, has played for six NFL teams in his career.

    All off-season, the Bucs had said they were okay with entering 2017 with two relatively inexperienced quarterbacks behind Winston after Mike Glennon signed as a free agent with the Chicago Bears....

    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 23: Quarterback  Ryan Fitzpatrick #14 of the New York Jets looks on in the first half against the Baltimore Ravens at MetLife Stadium on October 23, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) 663693229
  14. Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was a starter the past two seasons for the Jets, has played for six NFL teams in his career.
  15. Three Bucs keys to a better Jameis Winston

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Every turnover has its own story. In the past two seasons, Jameis Winston has co-authored at least 42 of them.

    Let's flip to the ending of 2016, where you won't find Winston and receiver Adam Humphries on the same page.

    The Bucs trailed the Panthers 7-3 late in the first quarter, facing first and 15 with the ball on the Tampa Bay 18-yard line. Humphries is split outside the numbers to Winston's left. Carolina cornerback James Bradberry is playing 15 yards off the line of scrimmage in zone coverage....

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) points to the fans after a victory over the Carolina Panthers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017.