TAMPA — As a rule, offensive linemen are the strong, silent types. They never met a microphone or camera they really liked.
But communication is the key to their success. It's especially true of the pre-snap chatter that matters between sage veterans such as Logan Mankins, Joe Hawley and Gosder Cherilus with rookies Donovan Smith and Ali Marpet.
"I don't think he's been wrong once," Smith said of Mankins, the 11-year vet who is a savant at analyzing defensive looks. "I challenged him once, saying 'you sure?' He said, 'Just do it.' "...
TAMPA — The Bucs again look like they will be without key starters on both sides of the ball Sunday against the Jaguars. LG Logan Mankins didn't practice again Friday due to a groin injury, and CB Johnthan Banks remained sidelined with a knee injury.
Mankins hasn't missed a game since 2012. If he can't go Sunday, the team likely will plug in at his spot backup T Kevin Pamphile, opting for a more proven player out of position ahead of young backup guards Jeremiah Warren and Matt Masifilo, who have never played offensive line in an NFL game....
TAMPA — The Bucs could be without their most experienced offensive lineman Sunday against the Jaguars.
G Logan Mankins was held out of practice Thursday with a groin injury, with backup T Kevin Pamphile getting work at left guard in his place. "He hurt his groin a little bit in practice (Wednesday), so we held him out," coach Lovie Smith said.
Mankins, 33, hasn't missed a start since 2010, when he played nine games with the Patriots....
TAMPA — The Bucs' giddy anticipation has turned to exasperation regarding the play of rookie quarterback Jameis Winston.
The former Florida State standout entered the league with the reputation of being prone to interceptions. He has done nothing to dispel that label after a wobbly 1-3 start.
Over the first month, Winston didn't handle the pressure cooker, passing for six touchdowns and seven interceptions, including four picks and a lost fumble in Sunday's 37-23 loss to the Panthers. For the second straight game at Raymond James Stadium, his first pass attempt resulted in a pick six....
Rookie Jameis Winston entered the league with a reputation of a quarterback prone to throwing interceptions and the Bucs rookie has done nothing to dispel that label after a 1-3 start this season.
Winston has thrown six touchdowns and seven interceptions, including four picks and a lost fumble in Sunday's 37-23 loss to the Carolina Panthers. For the second time at Raymond James Stadium, his first pass attempt resulted in a pick six....
TAMPA — Connor Barth used his Twitter account to remind the Bucs he was available for the right price while their rookie kicker was missing two field goals and an extra point Sunday.
After Barth worked out with four other kickers Tuesday, the Bucs took him up on that offer, signing him to a two-year contract.
Barth, 29, replaces Kyle Brindza, the rookie from Notre Dame who went 6-of-12 in field goal attempts and missed two extra points, leading to his release on Monday....
Connor Barth tweeted he was available for the right price.
Following a workout Tuesday morning, the Bucs met that demand and signed Barth to a two-year contract.
Barth, 29, was the Bucs' kicker from 2009-12 and set the franchise record with a 92.9 field goal percentage in '11. He was cut last season when the team opted to go with rookie Pat Murray.
Barth went 15 of 16 in field goal tries in five games for the Denver Broncos last season....
Something awful is happening to NFL kickers. The league moved the snap for extra points from the 2-yard line backward to the 15 and it has completely messed with the 6 inches between their chin strap buckles.
Now everything seems like a pressure kick, even the 33-yard point after attempt. It has turned veteran kickers with the calm of a Buddhist monk into yipaholics.
Week 4 in the NFL included 14 missed field goals and four missed extra points before Monday night's game. It has been four years since the league has seen 18 missed kicks in one week of play....
Kyle Brindza will not miss another kick for the Buccaneers.
The rookie from Notre Dame was informed this morning by coach Lovie Smith of the team's plan to release him.
Brindza made only 6-of-10 field goal attempts and missed two PATs in four games this season.
Smith stood by his kicker after he missed three field goals and an extra point in the Bucs' 19-9 loss to the Texans last week. But that decision burned the Bucs Sunday when Brindza missed field goals of 29 and 43 yards Sunday in a 37-23 loss to the Carolina Panthers....
TAMPA — A steady rain sent fans ducking under ponchos at Raymond James Stadium by the end of the national anthem Sunday. On the second play of the game against the Panthers, Bucs rookie quarterback Jameis Winston did not handle the exchange of a wet football from center Joe Hawley, resulting in a lost fumble.
Then on his first pass attempt, Winston stared down tight end Brandon Myers and Panthers cornerback Josh Norman broke on the ball for an easy interception he returned 46 yards for a touchdown....
The Bucs played giveaway in the fisrt half against Carolina and trail the Panthers 17-10.
Some first half observations
--Winston has to learn to take care of the football, especially early in games.
His first pass in each home game not only has been intercepted, it was returned for a touchdown. Winston also fumbled a snap and had a tipped pass intercepted, leading to all 17 of Carolina's points....
Loyalty is hard to find in professional sports, much less from NFL coaches.
So it's admirable that Bucs coach Lovie Smith decided to stand by K Kyle Brindza after the rookie from Notre Dame missed three field goals and an extra point in Sunday's 19-9 loss at Houston.
Brindza, who was acquired in a trade with the Lions for TE Tim Wright, has an exceptionally strong leg, evidenced by his 58-yard field goal to start the game against the Texans, the second longest in club history. His kickoffs routinely boom through the end zone for touchbacks....
TAMPA — Rookie middle linebacker Kwon Alexander is the only player who is supposed to speak up in the defensive huddle. It's ironic, because the quiet catalyst for the Bucs is someone who rarely has too much to say otherwise.
"He's opened up more," defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. "When he first got here, he didn't say a word."
Also silenced are any concerns that the 21-year-old pro from LSU might not handle the responsibilities that come with being the quarterback of the Bucs' defense....
In the first three minutes after he sat down at a table on the outdoor patio of a Panera Bread on Tuesday, Mike Alstott was greeted by one of his former high school players, a fellow football coach and a broadcaster from a local radio station who once interviewed him. • Alstott jumped to his feet, extended a hand, looked each in the eye and thanked him for stopping to say hello. • Who wouldn't want to be like Mike? • There have been more accomplished players for the Bucs. Three of them — Lee Roy Selmon, Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks — are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But has there ever been a more popular player in Tampa Bay than Alstott? • His connection with fans almost from the first day he arrived in 1996 as a second-round draft pick from Purdue was obvious. • "I cared about them as much as they cared about me," Alstott said. "I never wanted to let anybody down." • So he didn't. Not during his playing career, when the running back bulldozed his way to 5,088 career rushing yards and 58 rushing touchdowns, the most in franchise history. He wasn't just one of the first building blocks to an eventual Super Bowl XXXVII champion, with six appearances in the Pro Bowl, he was the hardened cement that held the foundation together....
TAMPA — The owners of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have proposed a deal to pay as much as $75 million toward a $100 million makeover of Raymond James Stadium, but Hillsborough County and Tampa Sports Authority officials are balking at some of the stipulations.
The Bucs seek the right to play an additional "home" game in another city, which has become a major sticking point, because county officials fear it could be used as leverage in future stadium negotiations....