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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. Bucs want to win, but eager for high draft pick

    Bucs

    TAMPA — The Bucs are not on the clock yet for the NFL draft, but it's fair to say they're counting down to the end of 2014 like Ryan Seacrest in Times Square.

    Every thorn has its rose. For Bucs coach Lovie Smith, at 2-13, it's the realization his team could own the first or second pick in each round of the NFL draft next spring.

    A loss to New Orleans on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium would clinch the top spot based on the worst won-loss record of opponents' strength of schedule. Even if the Bucs defeat the Saints, Tampa Bay should net no worse than the No. 2 overall pick....

    Josh McCown is wrapped up by Mike Neal, one of seven sacks. Bucs notebook, 2C
  2. Punchless Bucs fall to Packers

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Any Green Bay Packers fan worth his Instagram photo account left Sunday's 20-3 win over the Buccaneers with a few new tan lines and some terrific shots of his Christmas vacation to Florida.

    Image 1

    See the largest Raymond James Stadium crowd (64,247) in two years, two-thirds of it wearing cheeseheads and turning the new Sombrero into a Lambeau Field south. You can't really blame Bucs fans for selling their tickets rather than watch a 2-13 team while the Pack clinched a playoff spot in their yard....

     Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh McCown (12) is sacked by Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews (52) on a first down in the second quarter at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa,  Sunday, December 21, 2014.
  3. Bucs' Vincent Jackson an all-around positive

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Vincent Jackson was named the Bucs' man of the year for the second straight season for his help with military families. He even published a book he wrote, Danny Dogtags, about the challenges children face while relatives are deployed in military service.

    The 10th-year receiver also has been a good soldier on the field, never complaining when rookie Mike Evans started getting more passes aimed in his direction. Jackson has provided a great example on and off the field for Evans to follow....

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson (83) holds his pink gloves in his face guard while on the field during warmups before taking on the Baltimore Ravens at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa on Sunday (10/12/14). The pink gloves and pink accents on the field and uniforms are in support of breast cancer awareness month.
  4. If Demar Dotson plan works, Bucs might tackle other priorities

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Demar Dotson has nimble feet, long arms and good strength, all important traits to play left tackle.

    Protecting the quarterback's blind side is among the most important jobs on any football team. Next to a great edge rusher or the quarterback, it's also the hardest to adequately fill. It's not easy blocking the best pass rushers who line up on the right and whip around the corner like thoroughbreds on the backstretch at Churchill Downs....

    Demar Dotson, usually a Bucs starter at right tackle, is getting a look on the left side.
  5. Ex-Bucs QB Josh Freeman working to return to NFL

    Bucs

    TAMPA — The last time the Packers played at Raymond James Stadium, on Nov. 8, 2009, Josh Freeman made his first NFL start at quarterback and won 38-28, becoming the third rookie in Bucs history to win his first start.

    But since being released by the Giants on May 30 — his third team in a year — Freeman has flown under the NFL radar. In a league that employs quarterbacks such as the Bears' Jimmy Clausen and the Cardinals' Ryan Lindley, a guy who passed for 13,724 and 80 touchdowns in five seasons is a relative ghost. ...

    The last time the Packers played at Raymond James Stadium, Josh Freeman made his first NFL start at quarterback and won 38-28, becoming the third rookie in Bucs history to win his first start. [Times files (2009)]
  6. What has become of Josh Freeman?

    Blog

    Vincent Jackson has kept in touch with him and says he’s back at his home in Kansas City. Gerald McCoy says he has known him since high school and prays he can return to the NFL.

    The last time the Packers played at Raymond James Stadium, on Nov. 8, 2009, Josh Freeman made his first NFL start at quarterback and won 38-28.

    But since being released by the New York Giants May 30 –his third team in a year -- Freeman has flown beneath the NFL radar. In a league that employs quarterbacks such as Jimmy Clausen and Ryan Lindley, the guy who passed for 13,724 and 80 touchdowns in five NFL seasons is a relative ghost....

  7. Turnovers a big issue for Bucs' McCown

    Bucs

    TAMPA — It's strange because Josh McCown protected the football like a family heirloom last season.

    Now he holds it like a tray of hors d'oeuvres.

    Opponents have feasted off McCown's 16 turnovers — 12 interceptions and four fumbles. The only players to have more turnovers this year are Jets second-year quarterback Geno Smith and Jaguars rookie quarterback Blake Bortles.

    "Not what you want as a quarterback," said Bucs offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo. "It's something that he did not do last year. At all. He was as good as it gets in the league. A lot of (the turnovers) were in the pocket this year. A lot of them were ball-security things....

    Opponents have feasted off Josh McCown's 16 turnovers - 12 interceptions and four lost fumbles. [AP photo]
  8. Glennon still believes he's the Bucs QB of the future

    Blog

    The Bucs have been eliminated from the playoffs, have the worst record in football and currently own the No. 1 pick in a draft that's top heavy with Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks.

    Sounds like a time to look to the future, right?

    But despite throwing 12 interceptions and losing four fumbles, the Bucs have decided to stick with veteran Josh McCown. Does Mike Glennon, who went 1-4 as a starter this season, still think he is the team's quarterback of the future as stated by coach Lovie Smith?...

  9. Gerald McCoy, two other Bucs out for season

    Bucs

    TAMPA — When he made a cut, the grass tore away from under his foot and his right knee gave out. Then came the pain in a leg that had helped him chase quarterbacks down for 8½ sacks this year. Coaches still haven't let him watch tape of the play that ended his season Sunday. When they called for the cart at Bank of America Stadium, Gerald McCoy stood up, pushed everyone away and walked off the field....

    The Bucs on Monday placed Gerald McCoy on injured reserve for the third time in five seasons. [Associated Press] 
  10. Season is over for Bucs McCoy, Seferian-Jenkins and Murphy

    Blog

    For the third time in five years, Gerald McCoy's season will end prematurely with an injury.
    McCoy, who played only 18 snaps in Sunday's 19-17 loss at Carolina before suffering a right knee sprain, will be placed on injured reserve, coach Lovie Smith said Monday.
    Smith said he will be joined on I.R. by rookie tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who was unable to return from a back injury at Chicago last month, and receiver Louis Murphy, who suffered a high ankle sprain in Sunday's game.
    McCoy, the 'face of the franchise,' who leads the Bucs with 8.5 sacks, will wind up missing three games this season. He did not play in the 56-14 loss at Atlanta Sept. 18 because of a broken hand. But at 2-11 and with games against Green Bay and New Orleans remaining, the Bucs weren't going to take any chances with McCoy's future. Smith said McCoy will not require surgery.
    “Of course you want to finish the games with your guys but you have to look at the bigger picture and that’s my overall health,'' McCoy said. "The reality is we’re not going to be in the playoffs. We fought hard, but things didn’t go this season the way we wanted. So I’ve just got to look at the bigger picture and more long-term.''  
    Earlier this year, McCoy signed a 7-year, $98-million contract extension. McCoy's first two seasons were cut short after he tore both biceps in each arm. He now will have missed 16 games in his career, the equivalent of a full season.
    "You know how Gerald took the news. He didn't go off on a cart yesterday. When you're the leader of a team, you want to be there right up until the end,'' Smith said of McCoy. "Of course, it wasn't a decision Gerald was going to make. He wanted to continue to play. First off, he has an injury and he can't play. We'll take every precaution with him. Going through a year like this, you want to finish it with the troops. But he'll have a chance to get started on next year.''
    Smith said he knew of McCoy's reputation as a player but was impressed with his leadership this season.
    "You have an idea, you've heard quite a bit about him, his reputation at least,'' Smith said.  "But you know reputations, you want to see it first hand. We saw it first hand. Initially, just coming in, 'hey, I'm Gerald McCoy, this is what we're going to do. What do you need me to do? What's my role on the team?' He's done everything we've asked him to do. Showed up every day, leading every drill, great player. Face of the franchise for good reason. His future is so bright, and again, we've been through a lot. We've been down here together, it's going to be fun rising up together but we will rise up based on players like him.
    "He was a great player on tape.  When you can see him up close and personal and when you get to game day, more impressive. That's how you want superstars to be like him. They put in the time to play and they deserve to be a great player like that.''
    McCoy refused to be carted off the field and said he was cautioned about trying to go back in the game at Carolina by teammates such as Vincent Jackson, Clinton McDonald and Lavonte David.
    "I don’t know if anybody saw me, but I was pretty upset. We have a great medical staff here. All the coaches are very smart coaches and I think they made the best decision to hold me out.
    "Cliinton, Vincent Jackson, Lavonte said, "Sit down! Sit. Down.''
    Seferian-Jenkins showed flashes of being what the Bucs hoped when they drafted him in the second round out of Washington. He caught 21 passes for 221 yards and two touchdowns. But his most memorable plays may have been two rookie mistakes. He fumbled on the first play of overtime in a loss to Minnesota and drew a 15-yard penalty for his Captain Morgan-like pose in the end zone following a go-ahead touchdown in a 27-17 loss to Atlanta two weeks later.
    Seferian-Jenkins said he didn't think he played up to his potential.
    "Honestly, I don't think I made enough plays out there,'' Seferian-Jenkins said. "I don't think I was even close to what my potential is and what I can be. This year, personally, has been a disappointment for myself. I'm looking forward to getting out there next year and showing eveyrbody what I can do, showing my teammates what I can do.''
    Smith said Seferian-Jenkins, who started nine games, will benefit from the experience he got as a rookie.        
    "It's tough when you don't finish the year,'' Smith said. "But I think he got from it, all the way back from training camp coming in, making us take notice right away, he's done enough around here for the people who have seen him to know he has a bright future ahead of him. But you still want it to end a certain way. But now you know the season will be ending and now it's about next time up, "now that I've tasted some success, I want to get back out there.''
    Murphy, a St. Petersburg native who starred at Lakewood High School, was originally cut the day before the season opener and returned in Week 4 and had six catched for 99-yards in leading the Bucs to a come-from-behind 27-24 upset at Pittsburgh. Murphy will become a free agent but Smith said the Bucs would like to have him back next season.

    ...

    Gerald McCoy, who played only 18 snaps in Sunday's 19-17 loss at Carolina before suffering a right knee sprain, will be placed on injured reserve, coach Lovie Smith said Monday.
  11. Bucs McCown disagrees with fumble ruling in 19-17 loss to Panthers

    Blog

    Bucs quarterback Josh McCown thought it was an incomplete pass. And say this about McCown – the man has a lot of experience throwing passes that don’t connect with anyone.

    Having missed more than 50 percent of his receivers the past three weeks, McCown launched a ball Sunday as his arm was hit by Carolina safety Roman Harper that traveled 19 yards downfield in the fourth quarter. But the play was challenged by Panthers coach Ron Rivera and referee Ron Tolbert reversed the original call, ruling it was a fumble recovered by cornerback Bene Benwikere....

  12. Turnovers kill Bucs in loss to Panthers

    Bucs

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Bucs' Josh McCown thought it was an incomplete pass. And say this about McCown: The man has a lot of experience throwing passes that don't connect with anyone.

    McCown, who has missed more than 50 percent of his receivers the past three weeks, launched a ball 19 yards downfield Sunday as his arm was hit by Carolina safety Roman Harper early in the fourth quarter, falling for an apparent incompletion. But the call was challenged by Panthers coach Ron Rivera, and referee Ron Tolbert reversed it, ruling it a fumble and awarding the ball to Carolina....

    Rookie receiver Mike Evans leaps to catch his 11th touchdown of the season, tying a Bucs mark.
  13. Bucs say motivation still there to play spoiler

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Josh McCown has played the role of spoiler, turning another team's season as sour as month-old milk.

    On the final regular-season game of 2003 against the Vikings, McCown's Arizona Cardinals faced fourth and 25 when he was flushed from the pocket and heaved a desperation pass to Nate Poole in the end zone as time expired.

    Poole caught the ball and was ruled forced out by Denard Walker and Brian Russell and awarded a touchdown, knocking the Vikings out of the playoffs and giving the Packers the NFC North title....

    Josh McCown
  14. Could the Bucs be the 1 in draft?

    Bucs

    It's going to happen in the next three weeks. Some chronic NFL loser is going to win. By losing three more games, it will win the rights to the No. 1 overall pick in next year's draft.

    Right now that slot belongs to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who at 2-11 are the sorriest team in the sorriest division in the league. That matters, because the Jets, Titans, Jaguars and Raiders also have won only twice and could wind up first by finishing last in the league. The first tiebreaker is opponent records. Playing in the NFC South helps the Bucs in this case....

    FILE - In this Sept. 6, 2014, file photo, Oregon's Marcus Mariota passes down field against Michigan State during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game in Eugene, Ore. Mariota goes into Saturday's Dec. 13, 2014, Heisman Trophy ceremony as the clear front runner.  (AP Photo/Chris Pietsch, File) NY150