TAMPA — As DE Larry English was carted off the field at Sun Life Stadium with a "significant"' knee injury in Thursday's 22-17 preseason-finale win over the Dolphins, the wheels started turning in the head of Bucs coach Lovie Smith. He knew the team would need to scour the waiver wire for defensive ends.
Injuries are part of the game, but they're worse for a team if it has an outbreak at one position. Starting right DE Jacquies Smith has been sidelined with a shoulder injury and played only 13 snaps in the preseason. Adding to the Bucs' woes Thursday, T.J. Fatinikun suffered a shoulder injury....
MIAMI — Out of the tunnel he emerged, wreathed in smoke and flames as he ran onto the field at Sun Life Stadium. A first-round draft pick, a big-armed quarterback with size and strength, exactly the kind of player good NFL teams are built around.
Pay attention, Jameis Winston. Your story is just beginning.
But this is a cautionary tale about Josh Freeman, who many believe might have ended his career in the Bucs' 22-17 preseason-finale win over the Dolphins on Thursday night. Freeman, 27, is the No. 4 quarterback for the Dolphins, stuck firmly behind starter Ryan Tannehill, backup Matt Moore and McLeod Bethel-Thompson, a second-year pro from Sacramento State who started Thursday....
TAMPA — They are the only men who put the foot into football, yet they have virtually no job security. Technically, they are like any other player on the team. But they are listed on the roster as specialists, independent contractors who spend most of the day on a separate practice field.
Twelve days before the regular-season opener, the Bucs had three kickers at practice Tuesday — Kyle Brindza, a rookie from Notre Dame who arrived Monday in a trade with the Lions for tight end Tim Wright; Connor Barth, the most reliable kicker in team history who was cut by the Broncos last week; and Patrick Murray, the second-year pro who took Barth's job a year ago but quickly is losing his grip on the gig....
TAMPA — Two-time Pro Bowl CB Tim Jennings visited the Bucs on Tuesday and could be reunited with coach Lovie Smith and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier.
Jennings watched practice with Smith as the Bucs tried to reach a contract agreement with his agent. There was no announcement Tuesday night.
Jennings, 31, was released Sunday by the Bears, where he had played under Smith. He was a second-round pick of the Colts in 2006, playing for Frazier who was the team's defensive backs/assistant head coach. Jennings enjoyed his first four seasons with the Colts but blossomed with the Bears, recording 16 of his 20 career interceptions in five seasons....
Two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Tim Jennings visited One Buc Place Tuesday and could be reunited with head coach Lovie Smith and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier.
Jennings watched practice with Smith on Tuesday as the Bucs tried to hammer out a contract agreement with his agent....
TAMPA — Add yet another intriguing new name to the Bucs' search for a starting kicker.
The Bucs acquired rookie K Kyle Brindza from the Lions on Monday, sending Detroit TE Tim Wright, who was likely facing a cut as the Bucs trim their roster.
Brindza, 22, wasn't drafted out of Notre Dame but has been impressive in preseason for Detroit. He is 3-for-3 on field goals, connecting from 41, 49 and 51 yards; and 2-for-2 on extra points, and averaged 49.3 yards on four punts (three downed inside the 20). Seven of his eight kickoffs have resulted in touchbacks....
TAMPA — It's preseason, and that's the only excuse you can make. Truth is, the Bucs offensive line already is the worst in the NFL at protecting the quarterback.
Not just any quarterback. We're talking about the No. 1 overall draft pick, Jameis Winston, who is one hit from turning this Bucs season from one of hope to nope.
Tampa Bay has allowed 13 sacks in three games, more than any team in the league. Winston has been flattened on seven occasions, making him the biggest pinata in pro football. No other passer has absorbed more sticks....
Having watched his mostly young offensive line lead the NFL in sacks this preseason, Bucs coach Lovie Smtih called the effort against the Cleveland Browns Sunday 'unacceptable.'
Quarterback Jameis Winston was sacked four times and pressured into throwing an interception in the Bucs 31-7 loss to the Browns. With rookies at left tackle in Donovan Smith and right guard with Ali Marpet, Tampa Bay has allowed 13 sacks in three preseason, the most in the NFL....
If his preseason is any indication, quarterback Jameis Winston is going to take the Bucs on a carnival ride as a rookie in the NFL.
Five days after a mostly flawless performance in a win over the Cincinnati Bengals, the Bucs No. 1 overall pick was sacked four times, threw and interception, blew some protection calls against the blitz and failed to see the field well in a 31-7 loss to the Cleveland Browns at Raymond James Stadium. Winston finished 6-of-15 passing for 90 yards and the INT....
TAMPA — In what likely was the final dress rehearsal before the regular season for 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 was on full display in Saturday night's 31-7 loss before 51,521 at Raymond James Stadium. Winston completed only 6 of 15 passes for 90 yards and the interception....
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."...
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."...