NFC South: Akeem Spence

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could be without three starters and two key backups for Sunday’s game at Detroit.

Defensive tackle Clinton McDonald (hamstring), left tackle Anthony Collins (elbow) and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins (back) all missed Friday’s practice and are listed as questionable. It’s the same story for backup running back/return man Bobby Rainey (ankle) and tight end Brandon Myers (calf).

“When guys don’t practice on a Friday, it’s not a good thing,’’ coach Lovie Smith said.

The Collins injury is the biggest concern. It would mark the second straight week the Bucs have been without a starting offensive lineman. Center Evan Dietrich-Smith missed last week’s game with an illness. Collins hasn’t had a great season, but his potential absence would leave the Bucs without their best bet to protect quarterback Josh McCown's blind side.

If McDonald can’t play, Akeem Spence would get his second straight start and Da'Quan Bowers would get time as a rotational player. If Seferian-Jenkins doesn’t play, Luke Stocker likely would be the starter.

Rainey did a nice job as the return man last week, but the Bucs signed Solomon Patton, who was with the team early in the season, as an option if Rainey can’t play.

Bucs without four injured starters

November, 30, 2014
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TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be without four starters for Sunday's game with Cincinnati.

All-Pro linebacker Lavonte David, who said Friday he was confident he would play despite a hamstring injury, headlines a list of significant inactives. Center Evan Dietrich-Smith (illness), tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins (back) and defensive tackle Clinton McDonald (hamstring) also are inactive. The other inactives for the Bucs are cornerback Crezdon Butler, tight end Brandon Myers and tight end Luke Stocker.

That means the Bucs are without any of the tight ends they’ve been going with all season. The team promoted Cameron Brate and signed D.J. Williams and those two will share the duties at tight end and fullback.

With David out, the Bucs are expected to shift Danny Lansanah to the weak side and start Orie Lemon on the strong side. Garrett Gilkey is expected to start in Dietrich-Smith’s place and Akeem Spence is expected to take McDonald’s place.
TAMPA, Fla. – Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David said he’s confident he’ll be able to play Sunday against Cincinnati.

David, who missed last Sunday's game with Chicago with a hamstring injury, took part in Friday’s practice. David said sitting out last week was difficult.

David
“It’s very hard sitting out the first time since ever," David said. “It’s real tough for me. Being a competitor, I want to go out there and compete with my teammates. It was tough."

Coach Lovie Smith said David's status could be a game-time decision, but he was encouraged by the return to practice. Smith said getting David back would be a big boost for the defense.

“Quite a bit," Smith said. “Best outside linebacker in ball out there running around and getting close to full speed. That’s a good thing."

The Bucs have some other injury concerns. Center Evan Dietrich-Smith continued to be held out of practice with flu-like symptoms. If Dietrich-Smith isn’t able to play Sunday, Garrett Gilkey likely would fill his role.

Defensive tackle Clinton McDonald (hamstring) didn’t practice. If McDonald can’t play, Akeem Spence likely would replace him. Backup tight ends Luke Stocker (concussion) and Brandon Myers (calf) were held out of practice and it’s unlikely they’ll play. The team elevated Cameron Brate from the practice squad and said D.J. Williams and Brate are the likely backups for Austin Seferian-Jenkins.

Safety Dashon Goldson also was experiencing flu-like symptoms and was held out of practice.
TAMPA, Fla. -- One of the stranger quirks in the NFL is the injury report for a Thursday night game.

McCoy
McCoy
Teams are required to put out an injury report on Monday. But that report generally is hypothetical because teams usually don’t practice on Mondays. So the report is an estimate of players who would not have practiced if there was practice.

Tampa Bay’s hypothetical report contained three players that would not have practiced. Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (hand) and middle linebacker Mason Foster (shoulder) suffered injuries during Sunday’s game. Rookie tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins (ankle) did not play Sunday and also was on the injured list.

McCoy and Foster declined to talk to the media during Monday’s open locker room period. McCoy first was seen with nothing on his hand and it was visibly swollen. A few minutes later, McCoy was seen with wrapping on his hand.

Coach Lovie Smith said it’s possible McCoy could have his hand placed in a cast, but that’s not the first priority.

“That is an option,’’ Smith said. “Some positions, you can get by with that. On the defensive line, it’s a lot harder to do. You need to be able to grip and hold. Yes, that’s an option. But, hopefully, we won’t have to go that far down the road with it, but we’ll see.’’

If McCoy is unable to play Thursday against Atlanta, Smith said the Bucs would employ a three-man rotation that would include Clinton McDonald, Akeem Spence and Da’Quan Bowers as the defensive tackles. If Foster can’t play, Dane Fletcher would be the likely starter.

Buccaneers Camp Report: Day 14

August, 12, 2014
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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.
One of the best competitions of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' training camp is at nose tackle.

Clinton McDonald was brought in as a free agent and Akeem Spence, last season's starter, returns. The competition between the two is intense, but healthy.

"You want to make each other better, you've got to push each other," McDonald said. "Iron sharpens iron and so does the kindness of a friend and that's the kind of approach we're taking with the whole team. We've got to push each other every day, that way when we get out there on Sunday it's a breeze, the hardest days of work are in practice."

A lot of people assumed McDonald would be the starter when he was signed away from Seattle. He might end up in that role, but it won't be without a strong fight from Spence. Coach Lovie Smith has praised Spence several times since the start of camp.

I don't think there will be a loser in this competition. I think both McDonald and Spence will end up getting significant playing time. I think the Bucs will rotate the two to play to their strengths. McDonald is a strong pass rusher and Spence is solid against the run.
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Cornerback Leonard Johnson, tight end Tim Wright, quarterback Mike Glennon, defensive tackle Akeem Spence and linebacker Lavonte David were the big winners for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFL’s performance-based pool for 2013.

The pool is designed to compensate players who had relatively low salaries compared to their 2013 playing time. Dozens of Bucs received bonuses, but we’ll stick with the top ones here. The bonuses do not count toward the salary cap.

Johnson led the way with a $208,864 bonus. Wright ($200,592), Glennon ($183,209), Spence $181,593) and David ($180,190) rounded out the top five. The rest of the top 10 was made up of safety Keith Tandy ($152,646), cornerback Johnthan Banks ($145,655), linebacker Mason Foster ($133,268), receiver Tiquan Underwood ($127,927) and linebacker Dekoda Watson ($105,647).

Best bargains on the Buccaneers

February, 6, 2014
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TAMPA, Fla. -- We all know about the high-salary players for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, like Darrelle Revis and Gerald McCoy. But let’s have a little fun and take a look at five Buccaneers who are relative bargains

Cornerback Johnthan Banks ($1.07 million cap figure for 2014): Banks had ups and downs as a rookie, but there is plenty of upside. Any time you have a starting cornerback counting only $1 million toward the cap, you’re doing pretty well.

Linebacker Lavonte David ($946,836 cap figure): This guy is one of the biggest bargains in the league. He’s an All-Pro who is counting less than $1 million toward the cap. To clarify an earlier post about David’s contract situation, the collective bargaining agreement prohibits the Bucs and David from doing an extension until after his third season, so he’s locked in at a bargain rate for this season.

Defensive tackle Akeem Spence ($616,000 cap figure): Spence was a starter at nose tackle through almost all of his rookie season. It remains to be seen if he’s a good fit in the new regime’s defense. But, at worst, Spence should be able to help as a rotational player.

Safety Keith Tandy ($600,000 cap figure): Because of injuries and suspensions for Dashon Goldson and Mark Barron, Tandy wound up starting five games last season and produced five interceptions. This guy is a quality backup.

Tight end Tim Wright ($498,000 cap figure): A converted wide receiver, Wright got a lot of playing time because of injuries, and he made the most of it. Wright produced 54 catches. He needs to improve his blocking if he wants to be an every-down tight end, but he’s shown he can be a receiving threat.

Looking at playing time: Defense

January, 17, 2014
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TAMPA, Fla. -- We previously showed you the playing time for all of Tampa Bay's offensive players. Now, it's time to do the same for the defense.

The Buccaneers had 1,059 defensive plays. Here's the breakdown of the number of plays each defensive player participated in, followed by my quick take.

DEFENSIVE LINE: Gerald McCoy 962, Adrian Clayborn 933, Akeem Spence 694, Daniel Te'o-Nesheim 602, William Gholston 312, Da'Quan Bowers 206, Gary Gibson 164, Derek Landri 123, Steven Means 77, Trevor Scott 54.

Quick take: Most teams rotate their defensive linemen to keep them fresh. But the Bucs didn't do that with McCoy and Clayborn. The theory behind that was that, even when a bit winded, they were substantially better than their backups. The rookie Gholston got a lot of playing time in the second half of the season.

LINEBACKERS: Lavonte David 1,022, Mason Foster 771, Dekoda Watson 257, Jonathan Casillas 197, Adam Hayward 187, Ka'Lial Glaud 6, Danny Lansanah 4.

Quick take: The Bucs played David as much as they possibly could because he might be the best player on the team. Some of Watson's snaps came at defensive end as the Bucs experimented with him at that position late in the season.

DEFENSIVE BACKS: Darrelle Revis 948, Johnthan Banks 939, Mark Barron 834, Dashon Goldson 807, Leonard Johnson 691, Keith Tandy 441, Ahmad Black 146, Kelcie McCray 101, Michael Adams 86, Danny Gorrer 83.

Quick take: Even though he wasn't 100 percent as he came back from knee surgery, the Bucs still used Revis a lot.
TAMPA, Fla. -- Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Akeem Spence was arrested on drug charges Tuesday in Alabama, according to this report

Spence initially was pulled over for speeding, and a search of his vehicle yielded an unspecified amount of marijuana. Spence was released on $3,000 bail.

A fourth-round draft pick in 2013, Spence stepped immediately into the starting lineup as a rookie and turned in a solid season.

Greg Schiano: Defense can be dominant

December, 19, 2013
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TAMPA, Fla. -- By his conservative standards, coach Greg Schiano said something that would seem to border on the outrageous Thursday.

“We’re a couple pieces away from being a dominant defense,’’ Schiano said.

Schiano
Go ahead and throw out the reminders that the Bucs are 4-12. And let’s note that the defense is ranked 13th overall (15th against the run and 15th against the pass). Nobody is going to confuse the Bucs with the 1985 Chicago Bears or the great Tampa Bay defenses of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

But I think Schiano has a point.

“We have some good players, some really good players,’’ Schiano said. “We’ll just keep working at it. I think some of those pieces are going to develop into being dominant players. We have some young kids here who I think have the upside to be special. Our whole philosophy is draft and develop, anyway, and that’s what we’ve got to do.’’

Look at Tampa Bay’s defense and you see a lot of good parts already in place, including some young ones that only should get better. Guys like cornerback Darrelle Revis and safety Dashon Goldson already are considered among the best in the league at their positions. Fourth-year defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and linebacker Lavonte David are starting to get league-wide recognition.

Some members of the organization believe second-year safety Mark Barron is having a Pro Bowl season. Mason Foster has developed into a solid middle linebacker. Rookies Johnthan Banks, Akeem Spence and William Gholston all have had an impact.

That makes for a very nice nucleus. Schiano didn’t want to get into what parts are missing, but it’s fairly obvious the Bucs could be a little better in the pass rush.

“I think it can be developed within as well as outside,’’ Schiano said. “I think we have some really fine young prospects in our building right now. Will Gholston is a prime example. Six weeks ago, you’re not talking or thinking the way you are about Will as you are now. This is such the instant society, but sometimes you’ve just got to develop guys. You coach them and they get better. They watch themselves on tape, they play in games, they learn and they get better. Physically, they’re getting better.’’

This year has been mostly a lost season. But Tampa Bay’s defense really does have the potential to be dominant next season.

“We’ve got some great pieces for this team,’’ Revis said. “We’ve got some great core guys. We’ve got some talent. We’ve just got to keep on building. Looking to the future, we can add to this team because there are some great core guys and great talent. We’ve just got to build around the core guys that we have here.’’

Looking at Buccaneers' playing time

December, 10, 2013
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TAMPA, Fla. -- It's time for our weekly look at how the Tampa Bay Buccaneers distributed playing time.

In a 27-6 victory against the Buffalo Bills, the Bucs ran 66 offensive plays and were on the field for 67 defensive snaps. Here's a look at the individual playing time from Sunday.

OFFENSE

Donald Penn 66
Jamon Meredith 66
Demar Dotson 66
Mike Glennon 66
Tim Wright 59
Vincent Jackson 57
Jeremy Zuttah 51
Tiquan Underwood 45
Davin Joseph 43
Erik Lorig 42
Bobby Rainey 37
Ted Larsen 36
Brian Leonard 25
Chris Owusu 21
Gabe Carimi 16
Russell Shepard 14
Kyle Adams 11
Skye Dawson 7
Mike Hill 5
Spencer Larsen 2
Eric Page 1

DEFENSE

Dashon Goldson 66
Johnthan Banks 66
Mark Barron 66
Gerald McCoy 66
Darrelle Revis 66
Lavonte David 59
Leonard Johnson 58
Adrian Clayborn 56
Mason Foster 53
Akeem Spence 43
Daniel Te'o-Nesheim 39
William Gholston 23
Keith Tandy 15
Da'Quan Bowers 14
Adam Hayward 12
Steven Means 11
Derek Landri 11
Dekoda Watson 10
Danny Gorrer 1
Ka'Lial Glaud 1
Kelcie McCray 1
TAMPA, Fla. -- As controversy swirls around the Miami Dolphins, the topic of bullying and hazing young players has become a big topic around the NFL.

The Buccaneers say that’s not a problem in Tampa Bay.

Schiano
"We weren’t asked to do much more than carry a helmet and shoulder pads," rookie defensive tackle Akeem Spence said.

Actually, the Bucs do a little bit more with their young players. But it’s limited to things like a rookie talent show. In short, coach Greg Schiano isn’t a big believer in hazing.

"My policy is with everything we talk about trust, belief and accountability, and that kind of covers everything," Schiano said. "Our guys, there are some ritual things that you do and you don’t cross the line. That’s a man, you’re a man. Make sure you do not cross the line, and I think our guys have been good about that. So if it’s skits or carrying pads or cleaning off a tray, that’s ritual that guys go through. And that’s kind of how we talk about it in that trust, that belief and that accountability to each other. That code of conduct kind of covers everything we do."

Spence and fellow rookie Johnthan Banks said even the rookie talent show was harmless fun. Banks said virtually all the different treatment for rookies ended after training camp.

“These guys treat me like a vet," Banks said.
TAMPA, Fla. – Gerald McCoy gave the usual high praise when asked for his scouting report on New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees on Wednesday.

McCoy
McCoy
“It’s the same scouting any first-ballot Hall-of-Famer that’s still playing,’’ the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle said Wednesday. “We’ve got him, and then we’ve got another one right after him [in New England quarterback Tom Brady]. You scout them the best you can, you know what they can do, then you just try to figure out a way to contain them, not really stop them. There’s really no way to stop them, but you figure out a way to slow them down.”

But McCoy, who might be the most candid player in Tampa Bay’s locker room, continued to give one of the best assessments of Brees that I’ve ever heard.

“I think you’ve just got to disrupt him,’’ McCoy said. “Everybody has a weak point, and the weak point, for him, is his height -- he’s a short guy. If you can get in his face, you can slow him down a little bit. That’s why they put so much into their center and two guards, so much emphasis on those guys being good, because if you can protect his middle, he’ll kill you. So that puts a lot on me and the guys in the middle to get in his face.”

That’s all very true. That’s why the play of McCoy and rookie defensive tackle Akeem Spence will be so important Sunday when the Bucs host the Saints. Unlike most teams, the Saints build their line from the inside out.

Guards Jahri Evans and Ben Grubbs are the strength of the offensive line. The Saints are very good at keeping the middle of the pocket wide open and giving Brees room to throw.

McCoy and Spence will have to come up with big games if the Bucs are going to have any shot at slowing Brees.

Buccaneers make roster moves

September, 1, 2013
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TAMPA, Fla. – The Tampa Bay Buccaneers initially appeared to be going thin at defensive tackle. But that changed Sunday afternoon.

The team announced it has claimed defensive tackle Chris Jones off waivers from Houston. The Bucs also claimed wide receiver Russell Shepard off waivers from Philadelphia. To make room for those two players, the Bucs released receiver Tiquan Underwood and waived linebacker Najee Goode.

The Bucs had been carrying just three defensive tackles on their original 53-man roster. But Jones gives the team some depth behind Gerald McCoy, Akeem Spence and Derek Landri. Jones was drafted in the sixth round by Houston this year out of Bowling Green.

Shepard was an undrafted free agent. He played college ball at Louisiana State, where he spent time as a receiver, running back and quarterback.

The Bucs also announced they signed cornerback Deveron Carr, offensive lineman Jace Daniels, linebacker Ka’lial Glaud, defensive tackle Matthew Masifilo, tight end Danny Noble, receiver Chris Owusu and tackle Mike Remmers to the practice squad.

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