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  1. Bucs

Bucs' Jameis Winston, Mike Evans reach for stars

TAMPA — Jameis Winston to Mike Evans is a passing combination Bucs fans should hear about for years to come. But can the duo be Joe Montana to Jerry Rice? Winston and Evans think so.

"I'm a big dreamer, and I always tell Mike, 'Mike: Joe Montana, Jerry Rice,' just things like that, building our heads up," Winston said. "That was one of the best duos of all time. But I love this game of football so much, so I try to relate me and a great receiver like him to other players that have done it before."

The rookie failed to connect on any of his three pass attempts to Evans in the Bucs' 26-16 preseason loss Saturday at Minnesota. A Pro Football Hall of Fame performance it was not.

Evans finished third in rookie of the year voting last season after recording 68 catches for 1,058 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Wanting to be among the best passing duos of all time is natural, Evans said.

"That's what every young wide receiver and quarterback duo try to emulate," Evans said of Montana to Rice. "Them or (Marvin) Harrison and Peyton Manning, those kind of guys. I think we can achieve that. We have the talent. We just need the consistency."

Coach Lovie Smith says he's eager to watch the Winston-to-Evans combo grow.

"First, to talk about a tandem like (Montana and Rice), you have to have talent on both ends," Smith said. "We feel like Jameis and Mike has that. And then you need to play together for a while, too. And for these two guys to start off together at a young age and grow together, it's going to be fun watching it all play out.

"Both are competitive. We have a good system, we feel like, to highlight some of their strengths. But again, they're a young combination just starting, but I'm anxious to see them take steps together."

'D.J. SWAG,' DEFENSE STAND OUT: S D.J. Swearinger was all over the practice field Wednesday, intercepting two passes and making a case to get time with the starting defense. Claimed off waivers from the Texans, "D.J. Swag" considers himself a football magnet.

"Not kind of as a ballhawk. I am a ballhawk," he said. "I see myself as a playmaker, first and foremost, whether it's taking the ball out of the running back's hands, jarring the ball loose or having to go get an interception. You have to be a playmaker in this league."

DB Sterling Moore also had two interceptions in practice.

IN GOSDER THEY TRUST: After being a spectator for much of practice his first day, free agent T Gosder Cherilous was thrown into the mix and looked good for a player who has not had pads on since December.

"I just know now we're going to like him more and more each day," Smith said. "He had been out of football for a while and stepped right in. He's going to bring good play at the tackle position.

"But also, the guys like (rookie tackle) Donovan Smith have a veteran he's seeing. You know, for a guy who's been around the league, it's how he prepares and how he plays. It's been all good. He's blended right in to our football team."

THIS AND THAT: The team held its last practice that was open to the public; the start time was moved from 2:30 p.m. to 9 a.m. to avoid afternoon storms. The team will host more than 1,000 active-duty and veteran military personnel to watch practice this morning. … CB Alterraun Verner was excused from practice for personal reasons. He was expected to return today. ... T Reid Fragel left practice early with heat exhaustion.

Times staff writer Greg Auman contributed to this report.

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