Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Akeem Spence

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
Aug 12
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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.
Some random thoughts as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers get ready for their first training camp practice this afternoon.

I want to believe the company line when it comes to guard Carl Nicks. But it’s hard not to be a little skeptical. Nicks didn’t report to camp Thursday due to what the team said was a personal reason. Given Nicks’ injury history, there’s a part of me that wonders if he’s contemplating retirement or getting a second opinion. Maybe Nicks simply had something to take care of and he’ll show up today. But I won’t believe his health is fine until he’s in the starting lineup on opening day.

A lot of people automatically assumed Clinton McDonald would be the starter at nose tackle when he signed as a free agent. That could turn out to be true. But general manager Jason Licht said McDonald will be competing with Akeem Spence, who started as a rookie last year. This competition could be one of the best of training camp.

The Bucs seem enchanted with the speed of running back Jeff Demps. You can’t blame them for that. The former Olympic sprinter might be the fastest player in the NFL. But the Bucs are very deep at running back. They’re going to have to be creative and come up with a package of plays for Demps, if he makes the team. Of course, Demps can help his chances of sticking by winning the kickoff return job.
As the Tampa Bay Buccaneers get ready to start training camp Friday, let’s take a position-by-position look at the team. Let’s start with the defensive line.

There have been some major changes here and those changes should lead to improvement. Defensive end Michael Johnson and defensive tackle Clinton McDonald were brought in to help upgrade a pass rush that wasn't very good last season.

All-Pro Gerald McCoy returns at the defensive tackle spot, and he and McDonald should give the Bucs a strong interior pass rush. Adrian Clayborn seems to be the leading candidate to start opposite Johnson. Clayborn, a former first-round pick, has failed to play up to his potential so far in his pro career. And he enters a contract season, too.

But Clayborn isn’t guaranteed a starting job. William Gholston showed lots of promise last season and should at least earn rotational playing time. Steven Means also has some upside. Akeem Spence started last year as a rookie, but he’s likely to be the top backup to McDonald this year.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers begin a three-day minicamp Tuesday that will conclude their offseason program. But they still have plenty of questions that need to be answered by the start of the regular season.

Let’s take a look at some key issues.

The situation at tight end. This should be one of the more competitive contests in training camp. Second-round pick Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Brandon Myers, Luke Stocker and Tim Wright all have their strong points. Seferian-Jenkins’ draft status may make him the favorite to start, but he was unable to participate in the offseason program due to NCAA regulations and that may set him back. There could be a lot of two tight end sets, but the Bucs need to sort this position out in training camp and the preseason.

Carl Nicks’ health. The left guard missed most of last season and hasn’t taken part in the offseason program. The team has been quiet about Nicks’ health, but this is a key issue. If Nicks is healthy, he’s one of the best guards in the league and the offensive line has a chance to be very good. If he’s not healthy, the Bucs will be looking at the possibility of starting Jamon Meredith and Oniel Cousins at the guard spots and that would make the offensive line far less imposing.

The rotation behind Doug Martin. The Bucs have made it clear that they will split the load among the running backs. We know that Martin is the featured back. But Mike James, Bobby Rainey, Jeff Demps and rookie Charles Sims are all in the mix for roster spots and playing time. There’s no clear-cut favorite for the top backup job and any of the four can claim it in the preseason.

The defensive line rotation. It sounds like the Bucs will rotate defensive linemen more frequently than they did under former coach Greg Schiano. That’s a good idea because the Bucs have some depth on the defensive line with the likes of Da’Quan Bowers, William Gholston, Steven Means and Akeem Spence.

The cornerback competition. Last week, defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said the competition between Johnthan Banks and Mike Jenkins is very close. One of them will end up starting opposite Alterraun Verner, but it doesn’t sound like either one has an edge just yet.
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
Feb 6
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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.

Kiper revisits 2013 Bucs draft

January, 24, 2014
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TAMPA, Fla. -- Take a look at this Insider piece Insider in which Mel Kiper Jr. re-grades the 2013 NFL draft.

When it comes to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Kiper's grade was pretty consistent with the one he gave right after the draft. Kiper gave the Bucs a B last spring and he's giving them a B-minus now.

I'd say that's fairly accurate and it's important to point out that Kiper counts the Darrelle Revis trade as part of this draft class because the Bucs gave up a first-round pick to get the cornerback. Tampa Bay's actual draft class was a mixed bag.

Second-round pick Johnthan Banks took some lumps, but has some upside. In the third round, the Bucs took quarterback Mike Glennon and, so far, the new coaching staff is saying nice things about him.

Fourth-round pick Akeem Spence got a lot of playing time as a rookie, but he might not be an ideal fit in the new defense. Defensive end William Gholston showed some promise late last season.

Although he wasn't a draft pick, Kiper also factored in rookie tight end Tim Wright. That's appropriate because White, a converted wide receiver, ended up catching 54 passes.

Looking at playing time: Defense

January, 17, 2014
Jan 17
2:30
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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.

Overview: Defensive line

January, 15, 2014
Jan 15
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TAMPA, Fla. -- Our series of position-by-position overviews continues with the defensive line.

Looking back: The interior of the defensive line was one of the team’s biggest bright spots. Gerald McCoy made an argument that he’s the best defensive tackle in the game and rookie Akeem Spence was thrown in as a starter and turned in a solid season. McCoy, with help from the linebackers, was able to give the Bucs a decent pass rush. But the play of the defensive end wasn’t nearly as good. The Bucs made a huge miscalculation when they let Michael Bennett leave as a free agent, thinking that Da'Quan Bowers was ready to be an every-down player. But Bowers failed to win the starting job and wasn’t a factor. Adrian Clayborn played the run solidly and produced 5.5 sacks and rookie William Gholston was starting opposite Clayborn by the end of the year.

Looking ahead: The Bucs are set in the middle with McCoy and Spence, but they have to get better on the outside. Clayborn is a quality player, but I don’t know that he’ll ever be a dynamic pass-rusher. That might be the one quality that’s separating this defensive line from being one of the best in the league. New coach Lovie Smith comes from a defensive background and likes to have a strong pass rush. The Bucs could use an early draft pick to beef up the pass rush. Or they could look to free agency. If Minnesota’s Jared Allen becomes available, Tampa Bay would be a logical landing spot because former Vikings coach Leslie Frazier is the defensive coordinator.
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.

Playing time for the Buccaneers

December, 24, 2013
12/24/13
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TAMPA, Fla. -- It's time to take a look at how much playing time each of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers got in Sunday's loss to the St. Louis Rams.

The offense was on the field for 59 plays and the defense took 61 snaps. Here's the breakdown:

OFFENSE

Offensive line: Donald Penn 59, Davin Joseph 59, Demar Dotson 59, Jeremy Zuttah 59, Ted Larsen 37, Jamon Meredith 22, Gabe Carimi 8.

Quarterback: Mike Glennon 59.

Receivers: Vincent Jackson 56, Tiquan Underwood 41, Chris Owusu 23, Eric Page 4.

Tight ends: Timothy Wright 52, Kyle Adams 14.

Running back: Bobby Rainey 41, Erik Lorig 31, Brian Leonard 19, Spencer Larsen 6.

DEFENSE

Defensive line: Gerald McCoy 61, Adrian Clayborn 61, Akeem Spence 48, William Gholston 47, Daniel Te'o-Nesheim 13, Steven Means 8, Gary Gibson 4, Derek Landri 2.

Linebackers: Lavonte David 61, Mason Foster 52, Dekoda Watson 26, Adam Hayward 20.

Defensive backs: Dashon Goldson 61, Darrelle Revis 61, Keith Tandy 59, Johnthan Banks 59, Leonard Johnson 19, Kelcie McCray 9.

Greg Schiano: Defense can be dominant

December, 19, 2013
12/19/13
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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 4-10. 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.’’

Playing time for the Buccaneers

December, 17, 2013
12/17/13
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TAMPA, Fla. – It’s time for our weekly check on playing time for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

In Sunday’s 33-14 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, the Bucs ran 51 offensive plays and were on the field for 74 defensive snaps.

Here’s a position-by-position look at how many snaps each player got:

OFFENSE

Quarterback: Mike Glennon 51.

Running backs: Bobby Rainey 29, Brian Leonard 22, Erik Lorig 13, Spencer Larsen 3.

Wide receiver: Vincent Jackson 51, Tiquan Underwood 44, Chris Owusu 35, Eric Page 2, Skye Dawson 1.

Tight ends: Tim Wright 48, Kyle Adams 6.

Offensive line: Davin Joseph 51, Donald Penn 51, Jeremy Zuttah 51, Demar Dotson 51, Jamon Meredith 51, Gabe Carimi 1.

DEFENSE

Defensive line: Gerald McCoy 72, Adrian Clayborn 68, Akeem Spence 60, William Gholston 38, Daniel Te'o-Nesheim 32, Da'Quan Bowers 9, Derek Landri 7, Steven Means 6.

Linebackers: Mason Foster 69, Lavonte David 66, Dekoda Watson 63, Adam Hayward 9

Defensive backs: Dashon Goldson 74, Johnthan Banks 74, Darrelle Revis 74, Mark Barron 49, Keith Tandy 32, Leonard Johnson 12.

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