Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Connor Barth

W2W4: Buccaneers at Falcons

September, 17, 2014
Sep 17
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Three things to watch when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers play at the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday night (8:25 ET).

Tampa Bay's pass rush. Getting pressure on the quarterback is supposed to be one of the keys to a Lovie Smith defense. But the Bucs haven't gotten much pressure in the first two games and those were against backup quarterbacks. Against the Falcons, they'll face an elite quarterback in Matt Ryan. But this could be the perfect time for Tampa Bay's pass rush to show up. After injuries to Sam Baker and Jake Matthews, the Falcons are starting journeyman Gabe Carimi at left tackle.

Josh McCown's decision-making. McCown is a veteran, but he's made three really bad decisions that resulted in three very costly interceptions in the first two games. On those occasions, McCown has looked like he's forcing things and trying to make a play that's not there. That has to stop. The Georgia Dome isn't a friendly place for opposing quarterbacks. But there's a little bit of good news for McCown. The Falcons are the only team in the league that has yet to record a sack.

The kicking game. Rookie Patrick Murray had a field goal blocked in Sunday's loss to St. Louis. This will be Murray's first road game and he needs to come through. The Bucs made a risky move by going with Murray over veteran Connor Barth. They need Murray to show they made the right choice.
TAMPA, Fla. – The new kicker for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is a believer -- in himself.

Murray
While just about everyone assumed incumbent Connor Barth would keep his job, Patrick Murray had a different vision.

"I came in here and I believed I was going to be the starter," Murray said. "I believe if you come in thinking a different way it’s just not going to happen. Credit to Connor. He pushed me every single day. He’s a great kicker and I know he’s going to land somewhere really soon."

But it’s Murray, who came into the league as an undrafted free agent, that ended up winning Tampa Bay’s kicking job. Barth didn’t have a bad preseason, but Murray had an excellent one.

"The fact that I came in from day one that I was going to win the job and nobody was going to beat me no matter what they threw at me," Murray said. "Coach [Lovie Smith] put me in some difficult situations and I excelled at them and, thankfully, I’m a part of this organization."

Murray said his positive attitude and work ethic come from his father, Aidan.

"To be a kicker in this league, you have to have a mental edge," Murray said. "You have to be mentally tough and that comes from my father. He’s a hard-working man from Northern Ireland. We grew up pretty tough ourselves. He wasn’t easy on us, that’s for sure. That helps and it’s going to help me throughout my career."
Most significant move: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers took a leap of faith when they released kicker Connor Barth and decided to go with Patrick Murray. Barth was a proven veteran. Murray is an unknown. But Murray had an excellent preseason to win the job. Barth didn’t look quite as sharp and didn’t seem to have as much distance as he did before missing all of last season with a torn Achilles tendon. Barth also was scheduled to make more than $3 million this season. Murray will only cost the team $420,000.

Not so fast: A lot of people were under the assumption running back Jeff Demps would make the roster because the Bucs were so infatuated with his speed. But Demps was released Saturday. The former Olympic sprinter was given every opportunity as a running back and a return man, but he never was able to make things happen in space. Still, Demps has rare speed and the Bucs likely will try to get him signed to the practice squad, where he might be able to develop into something.

What’s next: The Bucs likely aren’t done with roster moves. They’re likely to bring in some players who were released elsewhere. Depth at linebacker, safety and on the offensive line still could be priorities.

Bucs’ cuts: Released WR Solomon Patton, RB Jeff Demps, QB Mike Kafka, DT Matthew Masifilo, DT Ronald Talley, K Connor Barth, TE Cameron Brate, DE Larry English, G Jamon Meredith, DB Marc Anthony, LB Nate Askew, T Edawn Coughman, CB Kip Edwards, DE T.J. Fatinikun, CB Anthony Gaitor, LB Ka'Lial Glaud, CB Keith Lewis, LB Brandon Magee, OL Andrew Miller, FB Lonnie Pryor, DL Ronald Talley, S Major Wright and OL Jeremiah Warren.

Bucs cut kicker Connor Barth

August, 29, 2014
Aug 29
3:26
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TAMPA, Fla. -- The Buccaneers pulled a bit of a surprise on Friday afternoon by releasing kicker Connor Barth.

Barth
 Presumably, the kicking job now belongs to Patrick Murray, who had a strong training camp. Barth had been with the Buccaneers since 2009. But he missed all of last season after tearing his Achilles tendon in a charity basketball game.

The decision also might have been influenced by economics. Barth was scheduled to earn $2 million in base salary. Plus, he was slated to earn $1.15 million in weekly bonuses if he made the 53-man roster. The Bucs take no cap hit for releasing Barth.

Murray is scheduled to make $420,000 this season.
TAMPA, Fla. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp:
  • The camp with no controversy finally had a little bit Tuesday; just a little. It came during a goal-line drill at the end of practice. There was a play where running back Doug Martin ended up very near the goal line. Martin and the rest of the offensive players signaled it was a touchdown. But the team was divided. The defensive players said Martin came up short. “There’s no replay," coach Lovie Smith said. “I have final say and I thought it was good." Smith said he was pleased with the offense’s showing in the goal-line drill. “Last time we went goal line I thought the defense kind of got the better of it," Smith said. “I thought the offense came back out there strong today down there. We’ve got to get touchdowns when we get down there. We say we want to have balance. We’ve got to be able to run the ball, especially in those types of situations."
  • Although cornerback Alterraun Verner (hamstring) has missed most of training camp and been ruled out of Friday’s preseason opener at Jacksonville, Smith said he’s not all that concerned about the veteran missing so much practice time. “You can’t do much about it," Smith said. “I’ve seen too many good football players miss time in training camp. I think it has very little bearing on what happens later on. He’s been through a lot of work with us. We feel pretty confident that he’ll be able to get our defense down and be able to play at a high level."
  • The first unofficial depth chart of the year came out Tuesday, but Smith had some words of caution. “Don’t put too much into the depth chart," Smith said. “The league says we have to put out a depth chart today, so we put out a depth chart today. The depth chart will mean a little bit more once we play a football game against someone else." The initial depth chart was generous to the veterans and sold some rookies short. Receiver Mike Evans and Austin Seferian-Jenkins continue to get some work with the first team, but they were listed as backups on the depth chart.
  • A couple of guys that have had trouble catching the ball came up with nice catches Tuesday. Rookie Robert Herron had a nice catch in traffic. Running back Jeff Demps made a nice catch on a deep pass from Mike Glennon. Demps also had a nice run.
  • The Bucs signed defensive ends Ryne Giddins and James Ruffin. Linebacker Jeremy Grable and safety Mycal Swaim were waived.
  • The Bucs will practice at 2 p.m. Wednesday. The session is closed to the public.

Buccaneers Camp Report: Day 7

August, 1, 2014
Aug 1
10:38
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TAMPA, Fla. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp:
  • Early in camp, the defense clearly was ahead of the offense. That’s not the case anymore. The offense had a good showing at Friday night’s practice at Raymond James Stadium. The first- and second-team offenses each drove for successful field goals in the two-minute drill. “It’s about scoring points, and that’s what the offense was able to do," coach Lovie Smith said. “Somebody can’t look good in that situation. Most games come down to that two-minute drive at the end of the game. (Quarterbacks) Josh [McCown] and Mike [Glennon] both did a great job with us."
  • Many fans had to be pleasantly surprised by their first look at coordinator Jeff Tedford’s offense. It didn’t look nearly as conservative as what the Bucs have run in recent years. The play of the night was a trick play. Running back Mike James took a pitchout and threw a touchdown pass to Vincent Jackson. The deep passing game also looked good, with Chris Owusu catching a long touchdown from Glennon in an 11-on-11 drill.
  • Center Evan Dietrich-Smith missed practice with a foot injury, and his absence was obvious. The one blemish for the offense was that three snaps between center and quarterback were botched. “One time on the ground is too many," Smith said.
  • The practice drew just under 15,000 fans, according team officials. “It’s a fanbase that deserves to see a good football team on the field, and we plan on giving them that," Smith said.
  • The Buccaneers have the day off from practice Saturday. Smith and many team employees will travel to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, to attend the induction ceremony for Derrick Brooks. The team will return to practice Sunday at 4:30 p.m. “All week, I’ve been thinking about Derrrick going in," Smith said. “I can’t wait to get up there tomorrow. A special day for him. You know Derrick Brooks. Who deserves to be in the Hall more than him? It’s a special time for his family, and we can’t wait to get there.’’
Let’s conclude our fact-or-fiction series with coaching and special teams.

1. The arrival of coach Lovie Smith makes the Buccaneers an instant playoff team.

Our take: Fiction.

Justify it: There's little doubt Smith will be better than predecessor Greg Schiano. Smith is a proven winner in the NFL. Players like working for him and he commands respect. All that being said, Smith still faces a tough job. This team was 4-12 last season. The Bucs were very aggressive in free agency and that will help. But turning this team completely around might be more than a one-year project.

Frazier
2. Leslie Frazier is the luckiest defensive coordinator in the NFL.

Our take: Fact.

Justify it: Frazier inherits defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and linebacker Lavonte David. They're among the best in the league at their respective positions and they give Frazier a couple of solid building blocks. David and McCoy have been compared to Derrick Brooks and Warren Sapp, who were the central figures of the defense in Tampa Bay's glory days. If Frazier can get solid production from some other role players, the Bucs could have an elite defense.

3. Jeff Tedford's offense is going to bring excitement to Tampa Bay.

Our take: Fact.

Justify it: For the most part, the Bucs have been very quiet about what Tedford's offense will look like. Several players have used the phrase "up tempo" to describe it. That would be a nice twist for an offense that's been boring in recent years. This offense has enough tools to be potent if Tedford can put things together the right way. Doug Martin gives the team a solid runner and Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans will be one of the league's biggest receiving tandems. But the real key will be quarterback Josh McCown. If he can thrive in Tedford's offense, this team suddenly can be good.

4. Smith had strong return games in Chicago, so he should bring the same thing to Tampa Bay.

Our take: Fiction.

Justify it: Smith had a strong return game in Chicago mostly because he had Devin Hester. At the moment, the Bucs don't have anyone to compare with Hester. Eric Page handled returns last season and he was ordinary. The Bucs will look at several other possible returners, including Jeff Demps and Charles Sims. Someone could emerge as a strong returner, but the Bucs don't have anyone that's proven yet.

Barth
5. Connor Barth is back, so the kicking game will be fine.

Our take: Fact.

Justify it: Barth missed all of last season with a torn Achilles tendon. He's healthy now and that's great news for the kicking game. Barth is one of the better young kickers in the NFL.
TAMPA, Fla. -- I don’t think it was intentional, but it sure seemed like Tampa Bay kicker Connor Barth took a shot at former Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman on Tuesday.

Barth missed all of last season with an Achilles tendon injury, but he was around the previous two years when Freeman was starting. On the second day of the team’s offseason program, Barth was talking about how different things are and he specifically cited new quarterback Josh McCown.

“You can just tell, having a veteran guy in like Josh McCown, he kind of brings more of a leadership role,’’ Barth said. “You can just tell the difference in that perspective because you want your quarterback to be a leader. It’s just great seeing the guys coming together.’’

Barth’s comments might shed some light on what went on with Freeman. Once considered a potential franchise quarterback, Freeman’s career fell apart early last season as he feuded with former coach Greg Schiano.

That feud seemed to divide much of the fan base, with many siding with Freeman and painting Schiano as the bad guy. I think both are to blame. Freeman reportedly was late to or missed multiple meetings and wasn't elected a captain.

I also think it’s pretty telling when a player talks about how much better the leadership is with a new quarterback.
TAMPA, Fla. -- Greg Schiano is gone from One Buccaneer Place, but the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach hasn't been forgotten.

You had to read between the lines only slightly to see the players are happy they now are coached by Lovie Smith. On the second day of the offseason program, five players were brought in to speak to the media. There was a common theme among all five.

"I think (Smith) treats us like men," kicker Connor Barth said. "I think that's the main thing. He said he's going to treat us like men and that's awesome."

None of the players directly said anything negative about Schiano, but the implications were everywhere.

"Me personally, I'm not a rah-rah guy," linebacker Lavonte David said. "Everybody staying calm and everybody keeping their composure, it can turn over to the field where the crowd's going crazy and something bad happens and everybody's keeping their composure on the sidelines. That builds more confidence to overcome (adversity)."

As a former college coach, Schiano had a reputation for being a "rah-rah" leader and stern disciplinarian. The atmosphere has changed with Smith and his coaching staff.

"All of them have the same personality," David said. "It's weird. Nobody's a rah-rah guy. Everybody's just cool, chilled, laid back and ready to get after it."

Wide receiver Vincent Jackson said he respected Schiano's discipline approach, but went on to sing Smith's praises.

"Just a smart man, you can just tell," Jackson said. "Very thought out, very well planned. He does everything with a purpose. Every minute in this building is going to be useful for us and it's going to make us better as men as well as football players.

"It's about treating guys like men, representing the Buccaneers and this organization and the city in the right light. We definitely want to do that on the field as well. We love his message and the tone that he's bringing to this organization."
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are getting some key players back after they missed most of last season with injuries.

Barth
It previously was reported that running back Doug Martin (shoulder) had been medically cleared. Now comes the news that kicker Connor Barth has been cleared, just in time to take part in the team’s offseason program, which began Monday.

Barth missed the entire 2013 season after suffering a torn Achilles tendon while playing in a charity basketball game. Barth’s injury was the first in a series of unfortunate events for Tampa Bay kickers last season.

After Barth was injured, the Bucs signed veteran Lawrence Tynes. But, soon after his signing, Tynes was diagnosed with a MRSA staph infection. Tynes was placed on the non-football injury list and missed all of last season. The Bucs finally turned to veteran Rian Lindell to handle their kicking duties.

Lindell struggled with accuracy early on. Getting Barth, who is one of the best young kickers in the league, should provide a big boost for Tampa Bay’s kicking game.

Bucs' free agents Nos. 16-18

February, 12, 2014
Feb 12
9:02
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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in a unique, and favorable, position as they get ready for the start of free agency in March. That is because the Bucs don’t have any major potential free agents to worry about re-signing.

They do have some role players that will be re-signed, but there are no marquee players. Let’s start taking a look at Tampa Bay’s potential free agents with Nos. 16 through 18 in my rankings.

16. Brian Leonard, running back. A Rutgers product, Leonard was a favorite of former coach Greg Schiano. Leonard wasn’t very productive in a backup role. He’s expendable because the Bucs will have a healthy Doug Martin, with Mike James and Bobby Rainey as the top backups.

17. Rian Lindell, kicker. The Bucs have Connor Barth returning from a torn Achilles. That means Lindell’s time in Tampa Bay is up.

18. Lawrence Tynes, kicker. Tynes spent all of last season on the non-football injury list. He’ll have to resume his career elsewhere.

Overview: Specialists

January, 17, 2014
Jan 17
10:58
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TAMPA, Fla. -- Let’s conclude our position-by-position overviews with the specialists.

Looking back: Kicker Connor Barth suffered a torn Achilles tendon in the offseason. His replacement, Lawrence Tynes, was diagnosed with MRSA during training camp. That meant the Bucs had to bring in veteran Rian Lindell, who ended up missing six field-goal attempts. Punter Michael Koenen was solid, and return man Eric Page was adequate. But there was nothing special about Tampa Bay’s special teams.

Looking ahead: The special teams could be in for a lot of changes. New coach Lovie Smith has emphasized the importance of special teams several times. Barth should return at full strength, and that will solidify the kicking situation. Koenen is worth keeping an eye on because he has a salary-cap figure over $3 million and the Bucs might attempt to restructure his contract or try to find a cheaper alternative. Smith had the luxury of having return man Devin Hester in Chicago. Hester could be available, and he’d be a logical fit. But, if that doesn’t happen, the Bucs likely will look for someone to spice up their return game.

Upon Further Review: Bucs Week 3

September, 23, 2013
9/23/13
12:00
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An examination of four hot issues from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 23-3 loss to the New England Patriots:

Freeman’s future: After the season-opening loss to the New York Jets, I laid out a hypothetical scenario for quarterback Josh Freeman to be replaced by rookie Mike Glennon coming out of the bye week. Well, that scenario seems to be becoming more plausible. If the Bucs lose to Arizona on Sunday, they’ll be 0-4 heading into their bye week. As long as the Bucs stay winless, coach Greg Schiano is going to have to start thinking about saving his own job. His best bet to buy another season might be inserting Glennon and hoping the rookie shows some promise.

[+] EnlargeGreg Schiano
Winslow Townson/Getty ImagesFans are already calling for Greg Schiano to be fired after an 0-3 start.
Schiano’s future: During our in-game chat Sunday, a lot of fans were very vocal in saying Schiano should be fired after (and some were saying during) this season if things don’t change dramatically. The thing to keep in mind is that Schiano has three more years on his contract. Unless things continue to go really badly, ownership likely will be hesitant to fire him.

A kicking dilemma: The Bucs basically are on their third kicker and they soon could be on their fourth. Rian Lindell has missed a field goal attempt in each of the last two games and both have hurt the Bucs badly. Connor Barth was supposed to be Tampa Bay’s kicker, but he suffered a torn Achilles tendon in an offseason charity basketball game. The Bucs replaced him with Lawrence Tynes, who came down with a staph infection and will miss the season. Lindell is a veteran who has made some big kicks in his career. But there are other experienced kickers available and the Bucs have to decide if they’re going to stick with Lindell.

Nothing from the tight ends: The Bucs got two catches for 9 yards from their tight ends against the Patriots. They need more production out of that position because it would take some of the defensive attention from Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams. But there might be some reason for hope. Schiano said Tom Crabtree, who probably is Tampa Bay’s best pass-catching tight end, is progressing well from his ankle injury. Crabtree isn’t going to fix all that ails the offense, but he can make it a little more diversified.

Surveying the Buccaneers' roster

September, 1, 2013
9/01/13
8:00
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After making their cuts Saturday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a roster that looks a lot like what I projected Friday.

I hit on 51 of 53 roster spots. Defensive tackle Gary Gibson and offensive lineman Cody Wallace were the two guys I had making the team who didn’t make the final cut. I didn’t have tight end Tim Wright and safety Keith Tandy making the roster, but they did.

Let’s take a brief overview of the composition of Tampa Bay’s roster:

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

Comment: The question is whether Glennon or Orlovsky will be the No. 2 quarterback. My thinking is the Bucs wouldn’t have held onto Orlovsky if he’s going to be No. 3.

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

Comment: Leonard, James and Hillis all looked good in the preseason. They all can be used to help keep Martin fresh.

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

Comment: The first four were pretty much set in stone. Page made the roster mostly because he’s going to be the return man.

TE (4): Luke Stocker, Tom Crabtree, Nate Byham and Tim Wright

Comment: Presumably, the Bucs kept Wright around because they expect Crabtree to miss some time with an ankle injury.

OL (8): Donald Penn, Carl Nicks, Jeremy Zuttah, Davin Joseph, Demar Dotson, Gabe Carimi, Ted Larsen and Jamon Meredith

Comment: By carrying only three backups, the Bucs appear to be optimistic that Nicks won’t miss too much time due to a staph infection.

DL (9): Adrian Clayborn, Da'Quan Bowers, Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, Trevor Scott, William Gholston, Steven Means, Gerald McCoy, Akeem Spence and Derek Landri

Comment: McCoy, Spence and Landri are the only true defensive tackles. The Bucs must be planning to use at least one of their ends on the inside at times.

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

Comment: The starters have a chance to be one of the league’s best units, and the backups aren’t bad either.

DB (10): Darrelle Revis, Johnthan Banks, Leonard Johnson, Danny Gorrer, Rashaan Melvin, Michael Adams, Dashon Goldson, Mark Barron, Ahmad Black and Keith Tandy

Comment: This should be the most improved area on the team.

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

Comment: Lindell is the third projected kicker the Bucs have had. Connor Barth and Lawrence Tynes both are out with injuries.

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