NFC South: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

TAMPA, Fla. – It’s easy to forget that Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin caught 49 passes as a rookie in 2012. It’s so easy that even the new coaching staff and front office came in not counting on Martin as a pass catcher.

“In the offseason, that was an area that we talked about,’’ coach Lovie Smith said Monday. “We went into the draft because we thought that was an area where we thought we needed a little bit of help.’’

[+] EnlargeDoug Martin
Al Messerschmidt/Getty ImagesDoug Martin has impressed the new coaching staff with his pass-catching ability.
The Bucs used a third-round pick to draft Charles Sims, who caught more than 200 passes in his college career. But Sims isn’t going to be contributing right away. He suffered an ankle injury last week that’s going to keep him out for 12 to 14 weeks.

Along the way, though, the Bucs might have found a running back they’re comfortable with as a pass catcher. That’s Martin. Smith admitted that part of Martin’s game has been better than expected.

“From watching practice, you’ve seen Doug has caught the ball a lot better,’’ Smith said. “As I’ve said all along, Doug is a good football player.’’

Martin takes pride in his ability to catch the ball, and he has put in extra work in that area this preseason.

“Every day at practice during special teams, I had an assistant coach throw me balls and go through different situations and I’ve done a good job catching the ball,’’ Martin said.

Catching the ball is an important role for running backs in coordinator Jeff Tedford’s offense. Martin said he got a scouting report on Tedford’s offense soon after the coordinator was hired. That came from New England running back Shane Vereen, who played for Tedford at the University of California. Vereen told Martin he would enjoy Tedford’s offense and Martin said that has turned out to be true.

“That’s another reason why I like Jeff Tedford’s play book because it has the running back running all types of routes out of the backfield,’’ Martin said. “It’s definitely going to help me as a player at my position and what I do. You have to be a versatile running back in the league. You can’t just run the ball. You have to be able to run the ball, pass block and catch the ball out of the backfield.’’

Martin’s work as a pass catcher may have come as a pleasant surprise to Smith. But Martin, who rushed for 1,454 yards as a rookie and missed 10 games due to a shoulder injury last season, is going to be asked to do a lot more than catch passes.

“We’re going to ask him to catch the ball out of the backfield,’’ Smith said. “ But the first thing for our tailbacks is they need to get positive yards and make guys miss or run over guys in the open field. We’re a balanced offensive attack. We don’t get off the bus throwing the football. We need to get production from our running game. Of course, Doug’s our bell cow.’’
TAMPA, Fla. -- One of the things the Tampa Bay Buccaneers haven’t seen much of this preseason is their top cornerback.

That’s Alterraun Verner, who injured his hamstring on the third day of camp and missed an extended period. Verner began taking part in individual drills last week, but he’s going to take a bigger step in Tuesday’s practice. Verner is expected to take part in team drills, coach Lovie Smith said.

Smith also expressed some optimism that Verner might be able to play in the third preseason game at Buffalo on Saturday.

Verner
“This is the week that we’re gearing towards,’’ Smith said. “First off, the guys that line up with the first group, there’s a reason why they’re there. It’s not like we’re going to do an awful lot that last preseason game. So, for our players, if they’re going to play against Carolina [in the regular-season opener], we need to see them right now. If they’re not out there, we’re in a hole a little bit. Alterraun Verner, it’s important that he get out there and starts playing our defense and seeing his role and getting comfortable. That’s why we’re excited about getting him on the football field.’’

The Bucs have had their share of cornerbacks with injuries this preseason. In addition to Verner, Mike Jenkins and Rashaan Melvin have missed extended periods. Jenkins still isn’t practicing.

But getting Verner back should be good for the chemistry of the secondary. Second-year pro Johnthan Banks has been working as a starter and Leonard Johnson has been the nickelback. Smith said he has been happy with what he has seen out of Banks. That could mean Jenkins is headed for a backup role.
Examining the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (2)
The Bucs likely will keep a third quarterback on the practice squad.

RUNNING BACKS (5)

The injury to Charles Sims helps the chances of James and Demps making the roster.

RECEIVERS (6)
Tommy Streeter had a great training camp, but he could be a victim of numbers.

TIGHT ENDS (3)

Veteran Luke Stocker is probably the odd man out.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)

The Bucs still might be in the market for a guard or two.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)

Missing time due to injury might hurt Bowers' chances.

LINEBACKERS (6)

Lansanah likely earned a roster spot with a strong showing in training camp.

CORNERBACKS (6)

Porter may stick as the backup nickelback to Leonard Johnson.

SAFETIES (4)
Bradley McDougald had a strong training camp, but he's unlikely to overtake Wright or Tandy.

SPECIALISTS (3)

This won't change unless there is an injury.
TAMPA, Fla. -- Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith was trying hard not to say too much Sunday about his plans for the offensive line. But the look on his face provided some clues.

“Last week, I think I had a frown on my face as I was talking,’’ Smith said. “I’m not frowning right now.’’

That’s because Smith was much happier with what he saw out of his offensive line in Saturday’s preseason game with Miami than he was the previous week against Jacksonville. The play of the offensive line, particularly the guards, was horrible against the Jaguars.

Guard has been a position of concern all along. Former All-Pro Carl Nicks left the team at the start of training camp after he was unable to recover from a toe injury. The Bucs have experimented with a combination of guards throughout training camp and the preseason.

Oniel Cousins and Patrick Omameh started on Saturday night.

Cousins
“I thought the group held their own,’’ Smith said. “We saw improvement. But, as I’ve said all along, our plan was to let everybody have an opportunity one way or another. When you get to the third preseason game, you’re getting ready for the season and the group we put out there right now, they’ve earned that right to get the majority of the plays this week. It will all be fairly clear on what we’re thinking.’’

Although Kadeem Edwards , Jace Daniels and Jamon Meredith also have been in the mix at guard, it appears as if Cousins is on his way to winning one starting job.

“For Oneil to be in there two weeks, that’s kind of telling you we think we know what he is for the most part,’’ Smith said. “He played solid ball.’’

Smith said Omameh also graded out well but wouldn’t say if he would get the start in the third preseason game at Buffalo. But teams generally like to have their starters set by the third preseason game.

“I think [Omameh] held up,’’ Smith said. “When I say he played well, I’m talking about all the things we ask him to do. Inside, you’ve got to be able to one-on-one block versus run, versus the pass. Our quarterbacks for the most part the protection gave them time to hit the receivers. Patrick was a part of that. Last week, the guards were at the top of our minds because of that constant quick pressure inside. He didn’t really allow that and that’s his first time out. If he’s in there this week, we’ll see how he does.’’

In other news, Smith said defensive end William Gholston and running back Mike James , who were injured Saturday night, likely will sit out the Buffalo game.
TAMPA, Fla. – Mike Evans had to be the happiest person that Saturday night’s game with the Miami Dolphins was only a preseason contest.

Evans
The rookie wide receiver for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a play that looked like it was heading for a highlight reel but instead might end up on a bloopers show.

In the second quarter, Evans caught a short pass from Mike Glennon and bounced off a would-be tackler. Evans seemed destined for the end zone, but something got in the way. Miami cornerback Brent Grimes stripped the ball from Evans at the 1-yard line. A play that should have resulted in a touchdown turned into a touchback.

“It was a rookie mistake,’’ Evans said after Tampa Bay’s 20-14 loss. “I had the ball on my inside arm and I didn’t anticipate him. It was a good play by him. I should have had the ball in my outside arm.’’

“We can correct that,’’ coach Lovie Smith said.

But Evans obviously has been making a good impression in practices. He had been behind Chris Owusu on the depth chart. But Evans got the start over Owusu on Saturday. The Bucs don’t expect Evans to make the same mistake again.

“I don’t think we have to have any conversations,’’ quarterback Josh McCown said. “As unfortunate as that is, it’s the best teacher.’’


TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers spent the week talking about how they wanted to show their home crowd something positive.

They did -- somewhat. They lost, 20-14, to the Miami Dolphins on Saturday night at Raymond James Stadium. The loss was deceiving because most of Miami's points came after the starters for both teams left the game. But the Bucs held a 7-3 lead before the starters left the game.

The starters turned in a much better performance than they did in their preseason opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The first team showed exactly what a team coached by Lovie Smith is expected to look like. The formula is to play great defense and be opportunistic on offense. That's precisely what the Bucs did at the start of the second quarter.

Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy sacked quarterback Ryan Tannehill and forced a fumble that was recovered by defensive end Michael Johnson. The offense quickly followed that up with a touchdown pass from Josh McCown to Vincent Jackson.

"It was more of what we need to start looking like," McCown said.

The backups didn't play well on either side of the ball. But at least the starters gave fans some hope.

Some other observations:
  • It's not quite what Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles do, but I like the fact the Bucs are using the no-huddle offense. Coaches and players had been talking about an "up-tempo" offense since organized team activities began in the spring. Now, we're starting to see what they were talking about. I don't think the Bucs will use the no-huddle offense all the time, but they'll use it from time to time to shake things up.
  • The starting offensive line took a lot of criticism (every bit of it justified) last week. But the line bounced back with a much better performance. Patrick Omameh and Oniel Cousins were the starting guards, but the Bucs still may continue to rotate guards before deciding on the starters.
  • There's been some question about whether the Bucs will even carry a fullback on their roster. But it's looking more and more like they will. Jorvorskie Lane appears to be playing his way into a roster spot. Lane had a nice block on a run by Doug Martin and also caught a pass for 14 yards.
  • Rookie Mike Evans was well on his way to showing why the Bucs used a first-round pick on him. Evans caught a pass from Mike Glennon in the second quarter and seemed to be headed for a touchdown. But Evans had the ball knocked loose at the 1-yard line. That resulted in a touchback for Miami.
  • I'm not sure what to make of the fact that Luke Stocker got the start at tight end. Stocker has appeared to be behind Brandon Myers, Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Timothy Wright on the depth chart. I was thinking Stocker might not make the roster, but maybe this was a sign that he's in the Bucs' plans.
  • Linebacker Brandon McGee (ankle), William Gholston (shoulder), cornerback Rashaan Melvin (ankle), running back Mike James (shoulder) and safety Major Wright (back) left the game and did not return.

Buccaneers Camp Report: Day 15

August, 14, 2014
Aug 14
8:01
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TAMPA, Fla. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp:
  • Training camp ended for the Buccaneers the exact same way it started -- with electricity in the air. No, really, there was electricity in the air. Lightning first interrupted practice for an hour and then brought it to a premature end. The same thing happened on the first day. Between the first day and the last day of camp, the Bucs had no other interruptions or cancellations. They broke camp Thursday and coach Lovie Smith said he was pleased with how things went. But Smith also said he's looking for an improved performance in the second preseason game, Saturday night against Miami. "The rain cooperated with us throughout camp," Smith said. "I think every day there's been a threat of thunderstorms and lightning. But, for the most part, we've been able to get everything in. I feel like we've had a good camp. We realize what's at stake this week. We want to play a lot better. Any time you get to start off in front of your fans at home, that's kind of special." While they still were able to practice, the Bucs worked in shorts and shells and did some game planning for Miami.
  • Smith said cornerback Alterraun Verner, cornerback Mike Jenkins and running back Charles Sims have been ruled out for Saturday night. Verner and Jenkins are recovering from hamstring injuries. Smith said Sims has an ankle injury and the running back was wearing a boot on the sidelines.
  • The Bucs took a bit of a low-risk gamble by signing defensive end Larry English. Coming out of Northern Illinois in 2009, English was the 16th overall pick in the 2009 draft. But English never has lived up to his potential. The Bucs have nothing to lose by taking a look at English. "You can never have too may pass-rushers," Smith said. "We talk about getting pressure with a four-man rush. I remember Larry when he played at NIU. A good football player. Injuries have kind of held him up a little bit. But he's what we're looking for, a speed, edge rusher. We feel like he might be able to give us something." The Bucs released Jibreel Black to make room for English.
  • Smith said the starters will play into the second quarter Saturday night. He said it's likely the starters will get double the amount of snaps they did in the preseason opener against Jacksonville.
TAMPA, Fla. – On a day near the middle of training camp, Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith walked into his post-practice news conference and delivered a message.

"There's nothing really I can give you today," Smith said.

Smith wasn't being condescending or rude to the media. He simply was being truthful. Tampa Bay's camp hasn't had any major news or controversies. It has been downright boring at times -- but it beats the alternative.

We saw the other side of things last year, and it wasn't pretty. There was plenty of news and a ton of distractions. Former coach Greg Schiano and quarterback Josh Freeman were in the early stages of a feud that would end in divorce one month into the season. And it wasn't just Freeman who was having issues with Schiano's style. Numerous players had problems with Schiano's rigid ways and never fully bought into the coach.

That quickly caught up to Schiano, who was fired after two lackluster seasons. Enter Smith, who is the anti-Schiano in just about every way. Smith is calm and treats his players like adults, and you already can see the results of that. There have been no controversies.

Amid the tranquility, players are singing the praises of Smith. The coach brings back memories of Tony Dungy, who guided the Bucs to their first era of sustained success. That's no coincidence. Smith was the linebackers coach in Dungy's early years in Tampa Bay and has an approach similar to Dungy's.

People already are comparing defensive tackle Gerald McCoy to Warren Sapp and linebacker Lavonte David to Derrick Brooks. Smith's hiring has brought enthusiasm to a fan base that hasn't had much to be excited about in recent years. But that fan base has pleasant memories of what things were like in the Bucs' glory days.

On several occasions, Smith has said that one of his goals is to make the Bucs relevant again. If things go according to Smith's plans, the Bucs might be boring, but they'll be good.

THREE REASONS FOR OPTIMISM

1. Smith is known for being a defensive coach, and he has some good ingredients to start with. McCoy and David were All-Pros last year, and they play two of the most important positions in the Tampa 2 defense Smith is bringing back to the Bucs. McCoy and David give Tampa Bay a nice start, but some other players are going to have to come through. The coaching staff believes strong safety Mark Barron is ready to be a star. If some role players come through, this could be a very good defense.

[+] EnlargeDoug Martin
Hannah Foslien/Getty ImagesDoug Martin is back from a shoulder injury, but he shouldn't have to shoulder all of the load in a deep backfield.
2. Doug Martin is back from a shoulder injury that kept him out for about half of last season. That should provide a huge lift for the offense. Martin rushed for more than 1,400 yards as a rookie in 2012, and he has looked sharp in training camp. Under Schiano, the Bucs often overused Martin. That’s not going to be the case with Smith. The Bucs have made it clear that Martin will remain as the feature back but that they’ll rotate in some other backs to keep him fresh. Rookie Charles Sims, Bobby Rainey and Mike James could be in the mix for playing time.

3. After using their first two draft picks on wide receiver Mike Evans and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, the Bucs have one of the biggest receiving corps in the league. Williams, Seferian-Jenkins and Vincent Jackson each are at least 6-foot-5. They're going to present coverage challenges for defensive backs.

THREE REASONS FOR PESSIMISM

1. The offensive line hasn't looked very good in the preseason, and that's a huge cause for concern. The Bucs are especially thin at guard. All-Pro Carl Nicks left the team after not being able to recover from a toe injury. That leaves four guys without a lot of experience vying for two starting spots. Oniel Cousins, Jace Daniels, Patrick Omameh and rookie Kadeem Edwards have been rotating at the guard spots, and two of them will emerge as starters, unless the Bucs bring in some help from the outside.

2. Smith went out on a limb when he signed quarterback Josh McCown as a free agent and immediately named him the starter. McCown, 35, has been a backup most of his career, but he did play well in Chicago last year when Jay Cutler went out with an injury. McCown threw 13 touchdowns with just one interception. It's too much to expect him to keep up that kind of pace, especially with an unsteady offensive line. Smith, who coached McCown in Chicago, believes he can be successful over the course of a full season. But that's something McCown has never done.

3. Smith's philosophy is to play great defense and be efficient on offense. That worked well enough to get Smith to a Super Bowl with the Chicago Bears. But that philosophy might be antiquated. The league has become quarterback-driven. The Bucs are in the same division as New Orleans' Drew Brees, Carolina's Cam Newton and Atlanta's Matt Ryan. McCown and this offense might not have enough firepower to stay competitive in the division.

OBSERVATION DECK

  • McCoy has had an outstanding training camp. He consistently has gotten into the backfield as a pass-rusher and has been stuffing running plays. But it remains to be seen whether McCoy's excellent play is simply the byproduct of the weakness at the guard spots.
    [+] EnlargeVincent Jackson
    AP Photo/Bill KostrounVincent Jackson, in his third season with the Bucs, will have a third starting QB throwing to him.

  • The chemistry between McCown and Jackson has been noticeable. In addition to the offseason program, the two spent a lot of time in the spring and summer working out at a local high school.

  • The Bucs have gotten almost nothing out of defensive end Da'Quan Bowers since taking him in the second round in 2011. But they are trying something new with Bowers this year. They're going to use him inside at defensive tackle in obvious passing situations.

  • The Bucs have high hopes for sixth-round draft pick Robert Herron. But don't look for the receiver/return man to get a lot of playing time early on. Herron has had ball-security issues in camp. He needs to hold on to the ball if he's going to earn playing time.

  • Herron will make the 53-man roster. So will Jackson, Evans and Chris Owusu. Eric Page also probably will stick thanks to his return skills. That probably leaves one spot to be filled from a group of receivers who have shown promise in training camp. Tommy Streeter, Louis Murphy, Lavelle Hawkins and Solomon Patton all have shown flashes, but at least a couple of them won't make the roster.

  • Hamstring injuries have kept cornerbacks Alterraun Verner and Mike Jenkins out for a big chunk of training camp. But there's a flip side to that, and it's positive. Second-year pro Johnthan Banks has gotten a ton of work with the first team and has looked good. Banks didn't have a great rookie year. But his performance in camp probably will keep him in the starting lineup.

Lovie Smith preaching patience

August, 12, 2014
Aug 12
9:39
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TAMPA, Fla. -- If it’s possible to be playful and testy at the same time, Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith pulled it off Tuesday.

While keeping a smile most of the time, Smith sternly gave the same message repeatedly. He was preaching the importance of being patient.

There’s not a lot of patience in Tampa Bay these days. Fans and media are talking about Tampa Bay’s situation at guard. The Bucs have been rotating four players at the two positions, and rookie Kadeem Edwards and Patrick Omameh got the first-team work Tuesday.

Smith said the competition is a process.

“It’s part of the plan to give everybody an opportunity," Smith said. “There aren’t a lot of hard decisions in the end. If you let everybody play, they kind of tell you what they are. We’ll keep looking at different combinations and see who comes out on top.

"It doesn’t have to be tomorrow or the next day. We have to be ready for Carolina (in the regular-season opener) and we have a little bit of time for that. Most of you want us to have everything in place the first preseason game. It doesn’t happen like that. Be patient. We’re going to look at some different combinations. We’re not going to get fined if we don’t name the starting guards tomorrow. This is our plan that we have in place. We’re going to let the guys compete on the field, and once someone shows us they’re ready for that I’ll let you know."

The angst isn’t just about the situation at guard. Some fans seem ready to hit the panic button after a 16-10 loss to Jacksonville in the preseason opener, as the Bucs didn’t look very sharp. They host the Miami Dolphins on Saturday night, and Smith asked for patience once more.

“The second preseason game, the product won’t be finished," Smith said. “Those things come in time. It will happen. People just have to learn to be patient. (The media) and everyone else and our players need to show a little patience and it will come."

Smith's point about patience makes sense. Preseason results don’t mean anything and position battles can take time to play out. But it sure would be good for the mood of Tampa Bay’s fans if the offensive line turns in a better performance against Miami.

Buccaneers Camp Report: Day 14

August, 12, 2014
Aug 12
8:58
PM ET
TAMPA, Fla. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp:
  • Coach Lovie Smith pulled a bit of a surprise and put an unexpected end to the training camp portion of the preseason Tuesday. The Bucs are off Wednesday. When they return Thursday, they’ll be practicing without pads and preparing for Saturday night’s preseason game with Miami. Smith said he was pleased with camp overall. “I thought it was good," Smith said. “We practiced in the heat of the day most of the time. It’s draining. It’s draining just going through a walk through in Tampa. But the guys got through it. We haven’t had any major injuries. We felt we got about the proper amount of physical contact that we need to get ourselves in position to play the game. I like the work that we’ve done. Most of the guys have made a lot of progress throughout. We just need to kind of take steps now. We want to see improvement in the games."
  • Smith singled out several under-the-radar players that have given themselves a chance to make the roster with strong training camps. He mentioned fullback Jorvorskie Lane, linebacker Danny Lansanah and defensive lineman Scott Solomon. Smith also said rookie receiver Robert Herron has come on strong in recent days after having some problems holding onto the ball earlier in camp.
  • Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy was given most of the practice off. Smith said that was a coach’s decision and a reward for a strong camp by McCoy. Nose tackles Clinton McDonald and Akeem Spence each got some work at McCoy’s three-technique position.
  • Tuesday was “legends" day. The Bucs welcomed 50 former players to watch practice. That was a nice gesture and a change from former coach Greg Schiano, who didn’t always welcome former players. “I think we’ve made it known that they’re welcome," Smith said. “Not just on legends day, but any day coming back to their football team. What we’re doing, we hope that they see, is we’re trying to get it back. Most of the guys that came here had success while they were here, and that’s what we plan to do."
  • The Bucs signed defensive end T.J. Fatinikun.
  • There is no practice Wednesday. The Bucs are scheduled to practice Thursday at 2 p.m. Although Smith isn’t calling it training camp anymore, the practice still will be open to the public, team officials said. This will be the last open practice of the preseason.
TAMPA, Fla. -- After a lackluster outing in the preseason opener, some fans already are saying Josh McCown isn't the right quarterback for the Buccaneers.

Dietrich-Smith
McCown
Don't tell that to Evan Dietrich-Smith. The center went into a lengthy defensive of McCown when told about the criticism from fans.

"It's all knee-jerk reaction stuff," Dietrich-Smith said. "Josh is a great leader. The guy's been around the league for a long time and he's been around the league for a long time for a reason, because the guy can play football. He knows what he's doing, he's a savvy guy, he knows where he's going with the ball. What happened out there was us as a front not giving him time to work. We had some positive plays that were negated by penalties on our part. That hurt us and we were never on schedule."

Dietrich-Smith said the limited first-team work in the preseason opener was not a good gauge of what McCown can do and what type of leader he is.

"To sit there and all of the sudden say that this guy can't do his job, I think is a little out of control and a little ludicrous," Dietrich-Smith said. "For me, I have complete and utter trust in the guy. I think we have great chemistry out there. He's one of those guys that you sit in the huddle and when he's talking to you, you can tell he's loose, he's relaxed. That's the kind of stuff you need from a leader."

The defense didn't stop there.

"The guy studies his butt off," Dietrich-Smith said. "He's usually the first guy in, last guy out. Just grinding film, talking to the (offensive coordinator), pulling ideas off me. I could go on and on about the guy. But I'm just letting you know that the guy is the right guy for the spot."
TAMPA, Fla. -- A portion of callers to talk radio and fans on social media have been suggesting the Bucs should sign guard Richie Incognito.

Cognito was the player at the center of controversy in Miami last year and remains a free agent. Coach Lovie Smith was asked about potential interest in Incognito after the Bucs struggled in the interior offensive line in their preseason opener.

As you would expect from Smith, he gave the politically-correct answer.

“All players that are available we look to see if they would fit into our program,’’ Smith said. “All players, I’ll just kind of leave it at that. If we’re really interested in someone we’ll bring him in. We’re looking at everyone constantly, not just now. Every position.’’

Smith wouldn’t tip his hand as to whether Incognito is a possibility for the Bucs. He just talked in general terms.

“We consider everything, the total player and what he brings,’’ Smith said. “Off the field, on the field, the total package comes into play for every player that we evaluate. Every player that we draft, that we sign in free agency. It’s very important that a player fits in the locker room. If the player doesn’t fit in the locker room, we have to go in a different direction. It’s as simple as that. You have to be accepted in there. And I’m not talking about anybody in particular.’’

My take on the possibility of bringing in Incognito? I say it’s an extreme long shot. Smith doesn’t seem to like controversy and Incognito, who was only an ordinary player, would bring plenty of controversy.

Buccaneers Camp Report: Day 13

August, 11, 2014
Aug 11
8:28
PM ET
TAMPA, Fla. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp:
  • Prior to Monday, the Bucs had a remarkable streak good weather during practices. The first practice of camp was interrupted and cut short by lightning. But there hadn't been any issues since then -- until Monday. A heavy rainstorm moved in with about 50 minutes left in the scheduled practice time. There was no lightning, so the Bucs kept practicing. They did cut practice about a half hour short by cutting some work on special teams and the two-minute drill. But coach Lovie Smith said it was important for his squad to get some work in the rain. "Guys know that's a part of life down here," Smith said. "Every day we've gone out to practice there's been the threat of rain. That's what we use it for. You try to prepare for the season. Odds are we're going to have a couple of wet days, so you have to take advantage of it."
  • The Bucs had been bringing rookie tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins along very slowly. He still was listed as fourth string on the latest depth chart, which came out Monday. But it was obvious from Monday's practice that Seferian-Jenkins was getting a lot of work with the first team. "He's warranted more time moving up through the ranks," Smith said. "He's got a great future ahead of him. He's got good size, he can still work on his blocking, he has excellent hands, so he's in our plans."
  • Smith made it quite clear that special teams will play a heavy role as the team cuts down its roster in the coming weeks. "If you're one of our starters, you have an idea probably if you are or not," Smith said. "If you're not, it has to be more. It has to be about special teams too. Skill positions -- wide receiver, tight end, running backs, corner, linebacker, those backup positions you have to have special teams value also." That's why I keep saying wide receiver Tommy Streeter, who's had an excellent camp, isn't a shoe-in to make the roster because he's not a regular on special teams.
  • Defensive end Da'Quan Bowers, defensive end Steven Means, cornerback Rashaan Melvin, Jenkins and cornerback Keith Lewis missed practice due to injuries.
  • The Bucs are scheduled to practice at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday. The players will be off Wednesday and the final practice of training camp is scheduled for 2 p.m. Thursday.
TAMPA, Fla. – After I put out my projected roster for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earlier Monday, I’ve gotten a lot of Twitter questions asking why Tommy Streeter didn’t make the cut.

The reason is simple. I don’t think Streeter is going to make the roster.

I know Streeter has had a tremendous camp and he caught a touchdown pass in the preseason opener against Jacksonville. Streeter has done enough to put himself in the conversation for a roster spot. But the Bucs are going to have to crunch numbers at wide receiver, and Streeter might get squeezed out.

Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans are locks to make the team. Same for Chris Owusu. But here’s where things get tricky and you have to pay attention to who can help on special teams. Eric Page continues to work as the top return man, so he should get a roster spot.

Rookie Robert Herron also has return ability. Herron hasn’t had a great camp, but he’s a draft pick and teams don’t like to cut draft picks. Veteran Louis Murphy also has some special teams ability.

The Bucs are likely to keep either five or six receivers on the roster. I think Streeter will end up getting cut. He could end up on the practice squad if another team doesn’t claim him.
TAMPA, Fla. -- Adrian Clayborn was a first-round pick in 2011. But the defensive end’s production hasn’t lived up to his draft status.

Clayborn
Clayborn
There are several reasons for that. After a rookie season in which he showed promise with 7.5 sacks, Clayborn missed all but three games with an injury in 2012. He returned last year but was unspectacular with 5.5 sacks. But the injury wasn’t the only thing holding Clayborn back.

I blame the coaching the last two seasons. Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano used lots of stunts and rarely let his players rush straight ahead. I think that’s going to change with new coach Lovie Smith, who has followed Clayborn’s career since college at the University of Iowa.

“I liked his motor," Smith said. “He made good plays at Iowa inside and outside. You get to know him and he’s a tough football player that plays hard and can rush inside and outside. That’s a good start right there. We feel like, in our system, defensive ends get a chance to rush the passer. We’re not a team that’s going to slant our line every play where true pass rushers don’t get a chance to show they can beat the guy across from them one-on-one, and hopefully Adrian can do that."

The Bucs have put Clayborn in a "prove it" situation. They declined to pick up his contract option for 2015, making this a contract year. But Smith makes it sound like Clayborn is ready for a breakout season.

“You see the way the guy works out there," Smith said. “He’s a guy that’s putting himself in position to play well. I asked him to drop weight and lose some body fat. Everything we’ve asked Adrian to do, he’s done. He’s been a model guy doing it. I’m anxious to see how he plays. I’ve looked at him from afar for a lot of years. Once you get up close with him, you like what you see. He’s an outside rusher and he needs to be able to rush the passer from the outside when he gets in one-on-one situations, and we think he can."

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