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. Lovie Smith has Bucs watching their weight

    Bucs

    TAMPA — The losing has already started under Lovie Smith. You could almost predict it was going to happen.

    Seven pounds were shed by middle linebacker Mason Foster. Running back Doug Martin cut out Domino's pizza and KFC, and his body fat plummeted from 11 to 8.8 percent. Linebacker Danny Lansanah lost 13 pounds.

    "I just think weight is one of the most overrated things that there is," Smith said. "Strength isn't. Weight is. The lighter we are, the quicker and faster we'll be."...

    Mason Foster, right, has never been a big fan of vegetables, but he says he is getting used to a diet that is helping him lose body fat. “I feel a lot quicker, a lot lighter on my feet,’’ he says.
  2. Bucs put on pads for the first time

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Bucs LT Anthony Collins knows offseason workouts are important for conditioning and learning new offensive and defensive schemes. But it doesn't resemble what happens in the NFL during fall Sundays.

    "The first day of pads is really the first day of football," Collins said.

    So training camp really kicked off Sunday as the pads came on and there was full contact — at least for those in the trenches. Overall, the defense probably got the upper hand as the offense made its share of plays but left too many footballs on the ground....

    Feeling good: Running back Doug Martin, who sustained a season-ending torn labrum on Oct. 20, tries to elude safety Mark Barron. “My shoulder is still intact,” Martin says after practice.
  3. Bucs coach puts kids first for autographs

    Bucs

    Signings of the times

    Lovie Smith knows the Bucs haven't given their fans much to cheer about over the past couple of seasons.

    "It's important for us to interact with our fan base and let them see us," he said.

    That's why players continue to sign autographs after practice. But a wrinkle to that tradition is a new area exclusively for kids to get autographs and get close to players....

  4. Barron says he's still not 100 percent after knee scope in Jan.

    Blog

    Bucs S Mark Barron says he still is not 100 percent after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in Jan.

    Barron said the procedure was needed to remove some cartilage from his knee, an injury that he sustained during a collision with Panthers receiver Steve Smith in the first meeting against Carolina Oct. 24. Barron missed all of the Bucs' off-season work but has been starting with the the team's No. 1 defense during training camp....

  5. Dashon Goldson takes it slow at Bucs training camp

    Bucs

    TAMPA — S Dashon Goldson, held out of offseason drills as he recovered from foot surgery, has opened the first two practices with the No. 1 defense but also has watched much from the sideline, easing back into full speed.

    "They've got me taking baby steps. But it felt good to be out here running around a little bit," Goldson, who said he dropped 10 pounds in the offseason, said Saturday. "I'm looking forward to getting in shape and definitely being out there the whole practice."...

    Safety Dashon Goldson (38) jokes around as he tosses a ball with cornerback Alterraun Verner (21) during Tampa Bay Buccaneers mandatory mini-camp at One Buc Place on Tuesday, June 10, 2014.
  6. Bucs part ways with injured guard Carl Nicks

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Thirty minutes after his teammates began their first training camp workout Friday, Carl Nicks announced he had decided to ''step away from football'' — although limping away may be more accurate.

    Nicks and the Bucs reached an undisclosed financial settlement to end his career with the team.

    The two-time All-Pro guard signed a five-year, $47.5 million contract as a Saints free agent in 2012 but appeared in only nine games in the last two seasons. He missed all but two games in 2013 with a toe injury and a MRSA infection....

    Carl Nicks, 29, played in only nine games during his two seasons with Tampa Bay.
  7. A day in the life of Derrick Brooks

    Bucs

    Derrick Brooks was going to jail. He would drive himself there, but the uniformed Hillsborough County Sheriff's deputies would be waiting for him at the correctional facility on Orient Road. He knew the way. Past the barbed wired fence, right at the first dirt road and through the secured door at the building on the left. It was 9:30 in the morning when Brooks, the former Bucs linebacker who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Saturday, surrendered to authorities. Inside the cramped room, the interrogation began. Thirty-one seniors-to-be, selected by their high schools to participate in the Sheriff's Rising Star's Leadership Academy, were seated and eagerly awaiting the advice and inspiration from, arguably, the greatest athlete in Tampa Bay history....

    A photo of Brooks giving a thumbs up on his office door where he is the President of the Tampa Bay Storm Arena Football Team.  [DIRK SHADD  |  Times]
  8. Bucs' Josh McCown back as starting QB; obvious rookie quotes

    Bucs

    Back in the saddle again

    QB Josh McCown reported to his 13th training camp Thursday, but it's his first as a starter in a decade. The 35-year-old was last counted on as the No. 1 in 2004 with the Cardinals. He then failed to throw a touchdown in his first four games and finished the season with 11 along with 10 interceptions for a team that went 6-10.

    "Very humbling, especially at this stage," said McCown, who went 3-2 as a starter with the Bears last season while throwing 13 touchdowns and one interception. "But I'm excited because you know where you stand going into camp. So it's definitely a little bit of a departure from different years. But I'm excited about it. I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be fun....

    Second-round draft pick TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (87) stands on the sidelines during Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie mini-camp on Friday, May 16, 2014.
  9. Bucs' Nicks excused from reporting day for personal reasons

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Bucs G Carl Nicks has not gone to work on a football field in about 10 months. He will have to wait at least another day.

    Nicks did not report to training camp Thursday and was excused for personal reasons, coach Lovie Smith said. The absence, apparently, is not related to the toe injury or MRSA staph infection that limited him to nine games over the past two seasons. Smith said he was excused only for the day....

    Accepting the challenge: Defensive end Da’Quan Bowers says he knows he must be better than the first three seasons of his career.
  10. Nicks fails to report, excused a day for personal reasons

    Blog

    Bucs guard Carl Nicks hasn't gone to work on a football field in about 10 months. He will have to wait at least another day.

    Nicks did not report to training camp Thursday and was excused for personal reasons, coach Lovie Smith said. The absence apparently is not related to the toe injury or surgery for MRSA which has prevented Nicks from playing more than nine games in two seasons with the Bucs. Smith said he is excused only for the day....

    Carl Nicks, pictured during minicamp in June, did not report to training camp Thursday and was excused for personal reaasons, coach Love Smith, right said.
  11. QB Josh McCown 'humbled,' by chance to start in 13th season

    Blog

    Bucs quarterback Josh McCown reported to his 13th training camp Thursday, but it's his first as a starter in a decade.

    The 35-year-old McCown was last counted on as the No. 1 quarterback in 2004 with the Arizona Cardinals, where he failed to throw a touchdown in his first four games.

    "Again, very humbling, especially at this stage,'' McCown said. "But I'm excited because you know where you stand going into camp so it's definitely a little bit of a departure from different years. But I'm excited about it. I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be fun. ...

    Josh McCown went 3-2 as a starter with the Bears last season, throwing 13 touchdowns and only one intercepetion.
  12. GM Jason Licht: Bucs could go from worst to first in NFC South

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Bucs general manager Jason Licht could have bobbed and weaved, or ducked the question all together: Just how good is this team?

    Since Licht and coach Lovie Smith are entering their first training camp in Tampa Bay and trying to turn around a 4-12 club, nobody would be surprised if they preached patience or even asked for a one-year grace period.

    But instead, on the eve of players reporting to training camp, Licht said Wednesday that he believes the Bucs could go from worst to first in the NFC South....

    Head coach Lovie Smith, left, and GM Jason Licht, right, are entering their first training camp in Tampa Bay and trying to turn around a 4-12 club. [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times]
  13. In Tampa Bay, Dungy never ran from distractions

    Blog

    Tony Dungy attemped to clarify his remarks regarding Rams defensive end Michael Sam. In a statement released Tuesday by Pro Football Talk, Dungy said, "I was asked whether I would have drafted Michael Sam and I answered that would not have drafted him.  I gave my honest answer, which is that I felt drafting him would bring much distraction to the team.''

    The interview took place sometime in May, based on Dungy's recollection that at the time of the interview, the Oprah Winfrey reality show had announced it would chronicle Sam's first pro season....

    Tony Dungy, right, traded for mercurial Jets receiver Keyshawn Johnson, left, in 2000.
  14. Five returning Bucs who might be fighting for jobs

    Bucs

    TAMPA — There are so many new faces for the Bucs that players from last year's team might feel like they've walked into the wrong locker room when they report to training camp Thursday.

    Coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jason Licht made sweeping changes with the Bucs coming off a 4-12 season. Most of the additions came on offense, which ranked last in the NFL in 2013. A number of borderline prospects survived the initial purge, but there's still plenty of cutting to do to reach the 53-man roster....

    Does Lovie Smith measure up? In Chicago, he did. The parallels between Tony Dungy and him are striking, Gary Shelton writes. [DANIEL WALLACE | Times]
  15. Bucs' Bowers night with former Destiny's Child member lands her in jail

    Blog

    The last weekend before the start of training camp can create some anxious moments for NFL coaches and executives as players enjoy their final freedom before the grind of the season. Things can get out of hand.

    As Da'Quan Bowers tweeted Sunday morning, "What a crazy night...''

    Bowers, the Bucs defensive end, flew former Destiny's Child singer Farrah Franklin to Myrtle Beach to spend the weekend with him and Texans linebacker Ricky Sapp, a teammate of Bowers' at Clemson....

    Entering his fourth season, Da'Quan Bowers has only 5.5 career sacks and faces an uphill battle to make the final roster.