TAMPA — Bucs return specialist Bobby Rainey approached coach Lovie Smith before Sunday's game against Jacksonville and told him he was going to have a big game. It has become a weekly routine for Rainey, who is putting positive vibes into his mind in hopes that it transfers into the game.
On Sunday, it did, with Rainey averaging 28.3 yards on three punt returns, including a 58-yarder, in the victory against the Jaguars. Two of his returns led to points in the 38-31 victory, while his 85 punt return yards for the game are the most by a Tampa Bay player since 2008.
Because of his performance, Rainey was named NFC special teams player of the week on Wednesday. He is the first Bucs player to earn special teams honors since Micheal Spurlock in Week 16 of the 2009 season. In 2013, Rainey was named NFC offensive player of the week for Week 11, joining Ronde Barber and Shelton Quarles as the only Bucs players to win player of the week awards in two different categories.
"He deserved it," QB Jameis Winston said. "Special teams can win games for you when you're able to flip the field on a return, get a big play."
Winston vs. Gators I: Winston took a jab at college rival Florida when asked about the Jaguars' Bernard Pierce executing a block on a Tampa Bay special teams player instead of trying to tackle Rainey.
"I don't want to throw no shots, but remember when the Gators were blocking each other (against) Georgia Southern two years ago?" said Winston, who played at Florida State. "It made me laugh. Jacksonville is close to Gainesville. Something must be going on up there."
Winston vs. Gators II: Winston, however, was nothing but complimentary about the legacy of former Florida and South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier.
"I've got so much respect for Coach Spurrier," Winston said. "Let's just start with his accolades on the field — Heisman-winning quarterback, and he coached a Heisman-winning quarterback. That speaks a lot about his resume; not even mentioning he's the winningest coach for Florida and South Carolina." And how did Winston know this? "Because I like Steve Spurrier. I think I met him one time. I love football and he's a great football legend."
This and That: Several players did not practice Wednesday: Rainey, DEs Jacquies Smith and George Johnson, S Chris Conte and Keith Tandy, WRs Vincent Jackson and Russell Shepard, OLs Logan Mankins and Evan Smith, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins and CB Johnthan Banks. Coach Smith expects to have some of these players back when the team returns from its bye week to practice Tuesday. … Former Gator players Louis Murphy and Major Wright were in a heated discussion with former LSU players Kwon Alexander and Shepard about Florida's game Saturday night at LSU. The exchanges had most of the locker room laughing. Push-ups might be on the line for the losing side.