NFL Nation: Luke Stocker

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have 11 potential unrestricted free agents as they enter the 2015 offseason. The new league year opens at 4 p.m. ET March 10, when unrestricted free agents can sign with any team.

Here’s a list of the Bucs’ unrestricted and restricted free agents:

Unrestricted

Da'Quan Bowers defensive tackle
Adrian Clayborn, defensive end
Oniel Cousins, offensive tackle
Larry English, defensive end
Dane Fletcher, linebacker
Mason Foster, linebacker
Mike Jenkins, cornerback
Lawrence Sidbury, defensive end
Luke Stocker, tight end
Jason Williams, linebacker
Major Wright, safety

Restricted

Leonard Johnson, cornerback
Bobby Rainey, running back

Bucs without four injured starters

November, 30, 2014
11/30/14
11:50
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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.

Jorvorskie Lane's injury 'serious'

November, 23, 2014
11/23/14
5:34
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CHICAGO -- Observed and heard in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' locker room after their 21-13 loss to the Bears.

Lane
Lane
The injury news wasn't good for the Bucs. Fullback Jorvorskie Lane suffered what coach Lovie Smith called a "serious leg injury." It sounds as if Lane, the only true fullback on Tampa Bay’s roster, could miss the rest of the season. Backup tight end Luke Stocker filled in at fullback after Lane's injury and has played the position in the past. But the Bucs might have to sign a fullback to finish out the season.

Smith pointed to Tampa Bay's first offensive drive of the second half as the turning point. The Bucs held a 10-0 lead at halftime and they got the ball to start the second half. They went three-and-out and had to punt. The Bears followed that with a touchdown drive and the momentum switched over to Chicago the rest of the way.

Quarterback Josh McCown threw two interceptions, but said his most disappointing moment was a sack/fumble in the third quarter. That led to a Chicago touchdown that put the Bears ahead to stay. McCown said he should have sensed the pressure and gotten rid of the ball.

Buccaneers Camp Report: Day 9

August, 4, 2014
8/04/14
10:16
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TAMPA, Fla. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp:
  • The Bucs continue to experiment with their defensive linemen. They've been giving defensive end Adrian Clayborn some work at defensive tackle. “He's been taking reps all throughout,'' coach Lovie Smith said. “We want to see what players can do. Sometimes a defensive end is a lot quicker and you can get him inside and get a lot of plays when they get against some of the bigger, slower interior lineman. We're a new staff and we want to give guys a chance to show what they can do at as many positions as possible.''
  • The Buccaneers worked on something they didn't have a chance to do much of last season Monday night. They worked on having a lead late in the game. The offense worked on running out the clock. At the same time, the defense worked on trying to get the ball back.
  • Linebacker Brandon Magee drew the wrath of wide Vincent Jackson. Magee hit running back Mike James after he was clearly out of bounds. Jackson, a captain last year, got in Magee's face and gave him an earful.
  • With Verner and Jenkins out, Danny Gorrer has been getting a lot of first-team work at cornerback. Gorrer also is a candidate for the nickelback job.
  • The play of the day was a pass that Josh McCown drilled to Vincent Jackson in traffic.
  • The Bucs waived wide receiver David Gettis with an injury settlement and signed former University of South Florida safety Mark Joyce.
  • The Bucs are scheduled to practice at 4:30 p.m. ET Tuesday.

Buccaneers Camp Report: Day 2

July, 26, 2014
7/26/14
8:30
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TAMPA, Fla. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp:
  • The Bucs, who had their practice abbreviated by lightning Friday, got their first full workout of camp in Saturday evening and the results were predictable. There was good and bad. No series summarized that more than a couple of plays near the middle of practice. On one play, quarterback Josh McCown threw an interception to strong safety Mark Barron. On the next play, McCown bounced back and hit Vincent Jackson with a perfectly thrown ball. Coach Lovie Smith said he expects the team to be more precise when it puts on pads for the first time on Sunday.
  • Speaking of first practices, Saturday marked the true debut of rookie tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. He missed the offseason program due to NCAA regulations and was very limited in the rookie minicamp by a foot injury. But Seferian-Jenkins said his foot is fine now and he practiced with no limitations. After missing so much time, though, Seferian-Jenkins might be a little behind the other tight ends – Brandon Myers, Tim Wright and Luke Stocker. “He’s playing catch-up,’’ Smith said. “But he’s catching up.’’
  • It’s usually tough to get players to talk about specific goals, but defensive end Michael Johnson broke that rule of thumb. Johnson set one goal for himself and one for the entire defense. He wants to get back to double-digit sacks like he had in 2012 with Cincinnati. He also said the Bucs want to have the best defense in the league. Those two goals kind of go hand in hand. There’s been a lot of talk about how defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and linebacker Lavonte David compare to Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks, who were the cornerstones during Tampa Bay’s glory years. But a lot of people forget the Bucs didn’t fully get over the top until they got Simeon Rice as an outside rusher. If Johnson can make an impact anywhere close to what Rice did, the Bucs could end up being a very good defense.
  • I came into camp very skeptical about Tampa Bay’s depth at wide receiver after Jackson and rookie Mike Evans. But I’m starting to warm up to this position group. No one stood out, but guys like Tommy Streeter, Solomon Patton, Russell Shepard, Louis Murphy, Robert Herron, Lavelle Hawkins, Eric Page, Skye Dawson and David Gettis each had some bright moments. I think one of those guys will step up and claim the No. 3 job. That may be all the Bucs need because I’m not anticipating a lot of four-receiver sets from this offense.
  • Read into this whatever you want, but Jamon Meredith worked as the first-team left guard and Oniel Cousins worked at right guard. After the departure of Carl Nicks, I think the Bucs still are trying to figure out what they’re going to do at guard. I wouldn’t be surprised if Patrick Omameh and rookie Kadeem Edwards get some looks with the first team.

Bucs release TE Tom Crabtree

May, 17, 2014
5/17/14
4:04
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TAMPA, Fla. -- At least for the moment, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have reduced the crowd at tight end.

Veteran Tom Crabtree was released Saturday, coach Lovie Smith said.

“We have some numbers at tight end and it wasn’t looking really good for him,’’ Smith said. “Whenever I see that maybe it’s not going to work out for a veteran, I try to give him an opportunity to get on with someone else. That was the case with Tom. He’s a good football player and he’s played some good ball in the league.’’

Crabtree was signed as a free agent from Green Bay last year and the hope was he could be an all-around tight end. But injuries prevented Crabtree from making much of an impact.

The Bucs knew they had to get better at tight end and that’s why they used a second-round draft pick this year on Austin Seferian-Jenkins. The Bucs also have Tim Wright, Brandon Myers and Luke Stocker at tight end and that made Crabtree expendable.

But the Bucs still could add another tight end to fill Crabtree’s roster spot. Taylor Sloat and Jamel Johnson are trying out during this weekend’s rookie camp.

Bucs have logjam at tight end

May, 15, 2014
5/15/14
8:50
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On Wednesday, we talked about running back being one of the most crowded positions on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' roster.

Now, it's time for a look at another position that suddenly is overflowing with depth. That's tight end.

After using a second-round pick on Austin Seferian-Jenkins, tight end suddenly is one of the deepest positions on the roster. That's a good thing because it was one of the thinnest spots on the roster last year.

Seferian-Jenkins is an all-around tight end with the ability to help as a runner or a blocker. His draft status probably means he'll be the starter. The Bucs also have Tim Wright, Brandon Myers, Luke Stocker and Tom Crabtree.

How does the depth chart line up after Seferian-Jenkins? Teams usually carry three tight ends and that means there will be two odd men out. Things will sort themselves out in training camp and the preseason.

But, right now, I'd say Myers and Wright are likely to stay on the roster while Crabtree and Stocker could be expendable. The Bucs paid decent money to sign Myers as a free agent and Wright caught 54 passes last year as a rookie.

The previous regime had high hopes for Stocker and Crabtree, but those two were dealing with injuries last year and barely made an impact. If Stocker and Crabtree are going to have any chance of making the roster, they'll need to make strong impressions in training camp and the preseason.
There’s an old saying that you can’t judge a draft for at least two years. I think that’s fair.

But we live in a time when immediacy is expected. With that in mind, how do we put an early gauge on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ draft class?

I say the best way to do it is to look to see how many draft picks – at the moment – will be starters on opening day. I’m speculating here, but I’ll say the Bucs got two opening-day starters out of this draft.

I think the first two draft picks, Mike Evans and Austin Seferian-Jenkins, will be in the starting lineup in September. Evans is a very safe bet to be there because the Bucs have no other real threats to win the starting position opposite Vincent Jackson. Evans is a plug-and-play starter and I think he’s got a very good chance to be productive with opposing defenses also having to deal with Jackson.

I also think Seferian-Jenkins will be an instant starter, even though he’s going to have a little more competition than Evans. The Bucs already had Tim Wright, Tom Crabtree, Brandon Myers and Luke Stocker. All four of those tight ends have some positive qualities, but Seferian-Jenkins has the potential to be the most complete player of the bunch.

I don’t want to sell the rest of Tampa Bay’s draft class short. The other four rookies all could end up as starters eventually. But I think running back Charles Sims, guard Kadeem Edwards, tackle Kevin Pamphile and receiver Robert Herron will be backups as rookies.
With the first minicamp over, let’s take a look at whose stock is on the way up and whose is on the way down.

FALLING

Carl Nicks. Although the team had said before the minicamp that there was optimism Nicks would be ready to go, he wasn’t. He still is recovering from a toe injury that sidelined him almost all of last season. Nicks said he’s making progress in his recovery and he expects to be ready for training camp. But Nicks also admitted he has nerve damage in his foot and may have to play through pain the rest of his career. It’s time to start wondering if Nicks will be the same player he was before the injury.

Luke Stocker. There’s no clear-cut starter at tight end and Stocker should be in the mix. But he was sidelined with an unspecified injury. Stocker missed most of last year with an injury. He may already have fallen behind Brandon Myers and Tim Wright on the depth chart.

Da'Quan Bowers. He didn’t take part in drills as he recovers from an unspecified injury. Some players can afford to miss minicamp. Bowers isn’t one of them. The defensive end might have trouble even making the regular-season roster.

RISING

Chris Owusu. The Bucs have a glaring need at wide receiver and Owusu used the minicamp to show he can contribute. He’s not in line for a starting job, but could end up as the third, fourth or fifth receiver.

Josh McCown. Tampa Bay’s new quarterback looked exceptionally sharp. His passes were very accurate and he seemed to have a good grasp of the new offense. McCown already is well on the way to establishing himself as a team leader.

Bobby Rainey. The backup running back isn’t a threat to beat out Doug Martin. But Rainey might be on his way to earning some playing time. Rainey looked very good in the minicamp and showed some signs he can contribute as a pass-catcher out of the backfield.
 
Arrow indicates direction team is trending.

Final power ranking: 27
Preseason power ranking: 22

Biggest surprise: Tim Wright came to training camp as an undrafted wide receiver from Rutgers. He ended up as the starting tight end. That happened because a series of injuries left the Bucs in desperation mode at this position. But let’s give Wright some credit for quickly emerging as a legitimate threat in the passing game. He still has room for improvement as a blocker, but the Bucs might have found something special in Wright.

 Biggest disappointment: Entering the season, the Bucs thought this would be the year that Josh Freeman firmly established himself as a franchise quarterback. That didn’t come close to happening. Freeman was late for several team functions and that put him on coach Greg Schiano’s bad side. It didn’t help as Freeman struggled in the first three games. The Bucs turned to rookie Mike Glennon and eventually released Freeman.

Biggest need: The front office and coaching staff made a conscious decision to let defensive end Michael Bennett, who led the team in sacks in 2012, walk as a free agent. The thinking was that Da'Quan Bowers was ready to emerge as a pass-rushing force. But Bowers never emerged and Tampa Bay’s pass rush wasn’t very good. Rookie William Gholston showed some promise as the season went on, but the Bucs still need to upgrade the pass rush in the offseason.

Team MVP: There really are only two candidates -- defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and linebacker Lavonte David. McCoy was outstanding, but I’m giving the nod to David. In his second season, David developed a knack for making big plays. People compared him to Derrick Brooks as soon as he was drafted by Tampa Bay. I thought that was a little premature, but I’m starting to think David can be the second coming of Brooks.

 

TAMPA, Fla. -- When the season started, there was some talk that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could contend for a playoff spot.

After all, they added all-world cornerback Darrelle Revis and Pro Bowl safety Dashon Goldson in the offseason. The Bucs were the first ones to point to the fact they had eight guys on their roster who have been to Pro Bowls.

But, as it turns out, none of that’s mattered. The Bucs are 0-8 and their midseason grades are as dismal as their record:

TAMPA, Fla. -- Rookie quarterback Mike Glennon might not have his full stable of receivers when he makes his NFL debut Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.

Coach Greg Schiano said that tight end Tom Crabtree has been ruled out. Schiano said Crabtree had a setback with the ankle injury that has kept him out since the preseason. The Bucs had been hoping Crabtree could play this week and take over the starting role. Previous starter Luke Stocker is on injured reserve. With Crabtree out, Nate Byham is likely to get the start.

Starting wide receivers Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson returned to practice on a limited basis Friday and will be listed as questionable. Williams said Thursday he expected to play Sunday. Kevin Ogletree, Eric Page and Russell Shepard are Tampa Bay's backups at wide receiver.

Bucs activate Demps, Stocker to IR

September, 23, 2013
9/23/13
4:28
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TAMPA, Fla. – The Tampa Bay Buccaneers added some speed for their return game, but also lost a starting tight end Monday.

Former Olympic sprinter Jeff Demps, who had spent the last two weeks practicing with the Bucs while on the exempt list, was activated to the 53-man roster. But the bad news is the Bucs placed tight end Luke Stocker on injured reserve.

Demps, who also may get a look as a running back and receiver, could take over as the primary return man or share the duties with Eric Page.

With Stocker gone for the season, the Bucs are thin at tight end. Nate Byham started in Stocker’s place Sunday. Tom Crabtree has missed the first three games with an ankle injury, but coach Greg Schiano said Monday that Crabtree is making progress. If Crabtree is healthy by Sunday, he could be the starter against the Arizona Cardinals.

Tom Crabtree out for Buccaneers

September, 6, 2013
9/06/13
1:28
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TAMPA, Fla. -- Tight end Tom Crabtree will miss the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ season opener against the New York Jets, coach Greg Schiano said Friday.

Crabtree has been out with an ankle injury. He had been projected to share playing time with Luke Stocker. Crabtree’s absence probably means more playing time for Stocker, and Nate Byham likely will be the second tight end.

In other injury news, Schiano still wouldn’t rule out the possibility of guard Carl Nicks, who is recovering from a staph infection, playing against the Jets. But it appears to be a long shot that Nicks will play in the opener. Nicks hasn’t practiced all week.

If Nicks is out, Schiano said the Bucs have plenty of options at left guard. But the coach said reserve tackle Gabe Carimi has gotten most of the first-team work this week.

Projecting the Buccaneers roster

August, 30, 2013
8/30/13
3:15
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Roster cuts don’t have to be made until 6 p.m. Saturday. But let’s have a little fun in the meantime.

Let’s take a look at my best guess as to how the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 53-man roster will shape up:

Quarterbacks (3): Josh Freeman, Mike Glennon and Dan Orlovsky

Analysis: A rough outing by Glennon in the preseason finale might have convinced the Bucs it’s best to keep Orlovsky around.

Running backs and fullbacks (5): Doug Martin, Brian Leonard, Mike James, Peyton Hillis and Erik Lorig

Analysis: Hillis is very much on the bubble. The fact he doesn't play special teams could hurt him. But he also could stick around because he has the size to be a backup for Lorig at fullback and could be a valuable short-yardage rusher.

Tight ends (3): Luke Stocker, Tom Crabtree and Nate Byham

Analysis: The Bucs may have to keep Danny Noble if Crabtree’s ankle injury is going to keep him out for an extended period.

Wide receivers (5): Vincent Jackson, Mike Williams, Kevin Ogletree, Tiquan Underwood and Eric Page

Analysis: Page has emerged as the return man and that should earn him the final roster spot.

Offensive line (9): Davin Joseph, Carl Nicks, Donald Penn, Demar Dotson, Jeremy Zuttah, Gabe Carimi, Ted Larsen, Jamon Meredith and Cody Wallace

Analysis: The Bucs could carry an extra lineman if it looks like Nicks will be out for an extended period.

Defensive line (10): Gerald McCoy, Akeem Spence, Adrian Clayborn, Daniel Te’o-Nesheim, Da’Quan Bowers, Gary Gibson, Trevor Scott, William Gholston, Steven Means and Derek Landri

Analysis: The last few spots are very competitive and the Bucs could look to bring in a defensive tackle from the waiver wire.

Linebackers (6): Lavonte David, Mason Foster, Dekoda Watson, Jonathan Casillas, Adam Hayward and Najee Goode

This position is pretty clear-cut unless the Bucs bring in someone off waivers.

Defensive backs (9): Darrelle Revis, Johnthan Banks, Dashon Goldson, Mark Barron, Leonard Johnson, Danny Gorrer, Michael Adams, Rashaan Melvin and Cody Grimm.

Analysis: Melvin and Grimm are very much on the bubble.

Specialists (3): Michael Koenen, Andrew Economos and Rian Lindell.

Analysis: Kicker Lawrence Tynes still is recovering from a staph infection and could end up on injured reserve.

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