NFC South: Dane Fletcher

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers might have the quarterback of their defense back for Sunday’s game with Baltimore.

Middle linebacker Mason Foster said Wednesday he’s optimistic about his chances of playing against the Ravens. Foster has missed the last three games with a dislocated shoulder. He said he expected to practice fully Wednesday afternoon.

“I’ll get a chance to run around and hit people in pads," Foster said. “I feel good, so it’s looking good."

Dane Fletcher has been starting in Foster’s place. But the team also used Danny Lansanah at middle linebacker in Sunday’s overtime loss to New Orleans. Lansanah had an interception return for a touchdown. Fletcher also had been calling the defensive signals, but the team switched that duty to weakside linebacker Lavonte David against the Saints.

Getting Foster back would be a huge boost for the Tampa Bay defense. He’s one of the team’s veteran leaders, and the defense has struggled without him.

Mason Foster to sit out for Bucs

September, 26, 2014
Sep 26
4:07
PM ET
TAMPA, Fla. – The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ injury report is out and there are no surprises.

As expected, it looks like the Bucs will be without the quarterback of their offense and defense. Middle linebacker Mason Foster (shoulder) was declared out for Sunday’s game at Pittsburgh. Dane Fletcher is expected to start in Foster's place for the second straight week. The Bucs also are listing quarterback Josh McCown (thumb) as doubtful, but all indications are that McCown won't play and Mike Glennon will start.

Defensive end Larry English (hamstring) also was declared out. Defensive end Michael Johnson (ankle) is listed as questionable.

The rest of the injury report is pretty encouraging. Running back Doug Martin (knee), defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (hand), tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, defensive end William Gholston (shoulder) and wide receiver Vincent Jackson (wrist) are listed as probable.
TAMPA, Fla. – Buccaneers middle linebacker Mason Foster gave a ringing endorsement to the man who is likely to take his place in the starting lineup Thursday night.

Fletcher
Foster is expected to sit out with a dislocated shoulder. That means Dane Fletcher likely will get the start.

“Dane is a veteran,’’ Foster said. “He’s a proven player in this league. He had a great camp and he’s ready to go. He’s a great linebacker. He’s going to step in and make it happen.’’

Fletcher will call the defensive plays. That’s something he did when he stepped in for Foster during Sunday’s loss to St. Louis. Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said he has confidence in Fletcher.

“When Dane got in the ball game [Sunday], he did some good things,’’ Frazier said. “It’s tough when you’re not getting as many reps in practice on some of the things you have to do in the game. But, for the most part, we were pleased with his work. With this week being a short week, he still won’t get as many reps. But he’ll be able to get some film study and prepare and I think he’ll go out and play well Thursday night.’’

Bucs promote LB Brandon Magee

September, 15, 2014
Sep 15
6:29
PM ET
Magee
TAMPA, Fla. -- In what could be a sign that middle linebacker Mason Foster may miss some playing time, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers added a linebacker Monday afternoon.

Brandon Magee was promoted from the practice squad. Magee appeared in eight games for the Cleveland Browns last year. To make room for Magee, the Bucs waived cornerback Rashaan Melvin with an injury settlement. Melvin had been sidelined by an ankle injury since the preseason. The Bucs filled Magee's spot on the practice squad by signing linebacker Ka'Lial Glaud, who was with the team last year and this preseason.

Foster suffered a shoulder injury in Sunday's loss to St. Louis. Dane Fletcher is the primary backup to Foster, but adding Magee gives the Bucs more depth at the position.

Projecting a lineup: Defense

March, 21, 2014
Mar 21
2:15
PM ET
We’ve given you projections on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' offensive starters already. Now, let’s flip over to the other side and talk about the defense.

Defensive end: Michael Johnson was signed to a big contract to spice up the pass rush. He’ll start opposite Adrian Clayborn.

Defensive tackle: Gerald McCoy is an All-Pro and should thrive in coach Lovie Smith’s scheme. Free-agent pickup Clinton McDonald could end up starting next to McCoy.

Linebackers: Lavonte David is a certainty on the weak side. Beyond that, there are question marks. Mason Foster has been the starter in the middle the past couple years, but the Bucs signed free agent Dane Fletcher to provide some competition. Jonathan Casillas is the best bet on the strong side, but the Bucs might not be done with that position just yet.

Cornerbacks: Alterraun Verner instantly became the No. 1 cornerback when he was signed as a free agent. That leaves Johnthan Banks and Mike Jenkins to compete for the other starting job, with the loser taking over as the nickel back.

Safeties: This is one area where there won’t be change. The Bucs are in good shape with Dashon Goldson and Mark Barron as the returning starters.

Buccaneers add more depth

March, 16, 2014
Mar 16
5:58
PM ET
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers continued their free-agent frenzy Sunday by signing two players that are likely to fill roles as backups.

The Bucs signed former New England linebacker Dane Fletcher and former Cleveland guard Oniel Cousins.

Fletcher has been a backup middle linebacker and special-teams player for New England and is likely to play behind Mason Foster. Cousins was a part-time starter in Cleveland and he could factor into Tampa Bay’s overhaul of the offensive line. The Bucs previously released veterans Davin Joseph and Donald Penn and signed tackle Anthony Collins and center Evan Dietrich-Smith.

Cousins could get a chance to compete with Jamon Meredith and Jeremy Zuttah at guard.

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