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Bucs journal: T.J. Ward arrested on warrant in drug case

WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times Tampa Bay Buccaneers middle linebacker Kwon Alexander (58) leaps onto the field to start the game between the Chicago Bears and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017.
WILL VRAGOVIC | Times Tampa Bay Buccaneers middle linebacker Kwon Alexander (58) leaps onto the field to start the game between the Chicago Bears and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017.
Published Jan. 3, 2018

TAMPA — Bucs S T.J. Ward is not starting his offseason off well.

Ward, 31 and two months from being an unrestricted free agent, was arrested at his Tampa apartment Wednesday morning on an outstanding warrant relating to a previous arrest, police said. Ward was booked and released on $2,500 bond.

He is facing a felony count of possession of marijuana and a misdemeanor count of possession of drug paraphernalia.

Ward's agent, Josh Arnold, said in a statement that Ward "adamantly denies" the allegations.

Ward, a Pro Bowler with the Broncos, signed a one-year, $4 million contract with the Bucs in August.

The original arrest took place Oct. 25 during the week leading up to the Bucs' first game against Carolina. Tampa police responded to an "active intrusion alarm" at Ward's apartment and were allowed in by Ciera Woody, 38, who was alone, the police report said.

Two glass jars containing 99.9 grams of marijuana were "in plain view," the report said. Woody denied ownership and said the jars belonged to Ward.

Ward later told police he had knowledge of the marijuana inside jars "he occasionally smoked out of" and he owned a "brass grinder containing marijuana residue," the report said.

Woody said the marijuana was "medicinal" and later told police it was hers, the report said. She faces the same felony possession charge as Ward.

Ward failed to appear in court on the charges and a warrant was issued, police said.

Arnold said Ward was not arrested in October and it was their understanding the matter had been resolved. Ward had never received a notice to appear in court about the matter, Arnold said.

Ward started only five games with the Bucs. He had no interceptions and no forced fumbles, and totaled 30 tackles.

The Bucs said they were aware of Wednesday's arrest. They had no further comment.

Nice bump

LB Kwon Alexander's big payday is still likely a year away, but the 2015 fourth-round draft pick will earn a hefty raise this year.

That's because of the NFL's "Proven Performance Escalator," designed to compensate low-round draft picks who have played significant roles for their teams. Players drafted in the third round or later can trigger the escalator by playing in 35 percent of their team's offensive or defensive snaps over their first three seasons.

As a result, instead of his original $705,000 salary for the final year of his rookie contract, Alexander should earn around $1.9 million. That's nearly as much as he earned in his first three NFL seasons.

Tampa trifecta

Rookie LB Nigel Harris did not register a tackle in Sunday's win against the Saints, and he did not play a single snap on defense.

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But the former Hillsborough High and USF standout made his Bucs debut on special teams, playing 17 snaps and getting a head start on making his case for a roster spot in 2018.

"It was quite an experience," said Harris, 23. "Just felt great being back in Raymond James Stadium, the stadium I played for the last four years at USF. It felt good giving the hometown something to look at, giving encouragement and trying to give the younger crowd something positive."

Harris made the Chargers' roster as an undrafted rookie and had 11 tackles in five games. He was cut and landed with the Giants, had one tackle in two games but was waived with a rib injury. Once healthy, he landed with the Bucs and was quickly promoted from the practice squad to the 53-man roster, dressing for the first time Sunday.

"That's what it's all about, coming in here, understanding what's going on, understanding the culture and being a part of it and helping the team get over that hump where I know I can be," Harris said.

Harris is the first player to play his high school and college football in Tampa and also play in a regular-season game for the Bucs.

Contact Greg Auman at gauman@tampabay.com. Follow @gregauman.

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