TAMPA — Lovie Smith learned something else about his players Wednesday. They've still got some fight in them.
Skirmishes and scuffles broke out when players returned after a day off. At the center of it was C Evan Dietrich-Smith, who went after backup DT Matthew Masifilo after the whistle during an 11-on-11 drill. A couple of big hits by LB Mason Foster on RB Bobby Rainey heightened the intensity during red zone work....
TAMPA — As they stood together in a ballroom at the Hilton Tampa Downtown in April — NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, Eddie DeBartolo and Derrick Brooks — something seemed to be missing. The Lombardi Trophy, perhaps?
Together, DeBartolo and Brooks have won six of them. Okay, so DeBartolo won five as owner of the 49ers. But when two iconic Super Bowl champions are hanging out with the commish, the commish usually is passing out hardware....
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."...
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....
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....
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....
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."...
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....
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....
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....
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....
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....
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. ...
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....
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....