Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Lovie Smith

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be without offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford for Thursday night's preseason finale against Washington.

Tedford had a medical procedure earlier this week, coach Lovie Smith said. Smith wouldn't go into detail about the procedure but said Tedford is only expected to miss a short period of time.

In Tedford's absence, Smith said the rest of the offensive staff will pull together to take care of Tedford's duties. Smith wouldn't say who will be calling the plays.

Lavonte David a well-kept secret

August, 27, 2014
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TAMPA, Fla. -- The comparisons started among Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans as soon as Lavonte David was drafted in 2012.

It seemed far-fetched, or at least very premature, but David instantly was seen as the second coming of Derrick Brooks. These days, that doesn’t seem like quite a stretch.

“It’s very early in his career and Derrick’s a Hall of Famer, so it’s hard to say that at this point,’’ Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said. “But if there’s anybody that has a chance as an outside linebacker to end up on the Derrick Brooks level, Lavonte has those qualities. His instincts, his ability to make big plays, and his ability to lift everyone up around him are similar to what Derrick had. Lavonte has those qualities. He has the chance to be one of the great players in this league.’’

As Brooks was, David is a weakside linebacker with a knack for big plays. David is coming off a 2013 season in which he had 145 tackles, seven sacks, two forced fumbles and five interceptions. Look at what Brooks did in the first two years of his career and David stacks up pretty well.

“It’s nerve-wracking being compared to that guy," David said. “He’s a Hall of Famer. All it does is motivate me to keep working hard, and maybe one day I can get to where he’s at."

Despite the brilliant start to his career, David remains one of the NFL’s best-kept secrets -- outside of Tampa Bay. David was overlooked for the Pro Bowl last season, but was named first-team All-Pro by the Associated Press. In ESPN.com's rankings of the NFL's top 100 defensive players, David came in at No. 25. He was 98th a year ago.

“[The Pro Bowl snub] didn't bother me as much as people might think," David said. “I can only control what I can control. I just go out there and play my hardest. Being voted first-team All-Pro is better than being voted to the Pro Bowl, in my opinion."

The Pro Bowls will come as long as David continues to produce, and all indications are he will. With Lovie Smith taking over as head coach, the Bucs are returning to the Tampa 2 defense that was famous back when Brooks was playing. Weakside linebacker is a crucial position in the Tampa 2 as that player is expected to go from side to side against the run and drop in coverage or blitz against the pass. Frazier said David is a perfect fit for the scheme.

“He sees things before they happen," Smith said. “He studies extremely hard. You should see him in the classroom. He’s asking questions all the time. He’s always looking for more. And then he goes on the football field and you can see that he’s applying what he’s learned. That’s not always the case. That makes him a very special talent."

How special can David be?

“The sky is the limit," Frazier said. “The way he works, as smart as he is, the talent he has -- he should go to a lot of Pro Bowls before his career is over. I’m looking forward to being a part of his evolution. He can be as good as any outside linebacker that’s played the game, in my opinion. I think he has those traits."
TAMPA, Fla. – He has gone from starter last season to backup this season. But Mike Glennon is expected to be a starter again -- for one night anyway.

Coach Lovie Smith has indicated he might rest some or all of his starters in Thursday night’s preseason game with Washington. That likely means Glennon will be playing in place of veteran Josh McCown.

Glennon
“It’s a dream to be a starting quarterback in the NFL, whether it’s preseason or a regular-season game,’’ Glennon said. “I’m real fortunate to be in that situation, so I’m looking forward to it.’’

Glennon started 13 games as a rookie last year. Without complaining, Glennon has accepted his backup role. In the first three preseason games, Glennon has completed 22 of 33 passes for 261 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions.

“I think it’s gone well,’’ Glennon said. “There have been some good things and some not as good things. But overall I feel like I’m a much better player this preseason than I was last preseason. I want to continue to grow as a player and I think I did that this preseason.’’

But the preseason isn’t over for Glennon. He’s likely to play most or all of the game against Washington.
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TAMPA, Fla. -- Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht and coach Lovie Smith haven’t had their personnel decisions second guessed very much.

That’s largely because the Bucs have made a lot of good moves. But, with the team getting desperate enough to bring in guard Richie Incognito for a visit, there’s room to question at least one move by Licht and Smith.

Was it really necessary to draft running back Charles Sims in the third round? The Bucs already had good depth at running back with Doug Martin, Bobby Rainey and Mike James. But the team saw a guy who had caught over 200 passes in his college career and decided to bring Sims in as a pass-catcher out of the backfield.

It was a nice idea. But, at the time, the Bucs already knew they had a bigger need at guard. Had they not taken Sims, they could have taken Spencer Long, Gabe Jackson, Chris Watt, Trai Turner or Brandon Linder -- all guards who went in the third round.

Any of those guys would have been an instant candidate to start. Sims never was a candidate to start. That job belongs to Martin. Sims was going to be a rotational player.

But he won’t even be playing for at least the first half of the season. Sims suffered an ankle injury that will keep him out 12 to 14 weeks. You can’t control injuries and you can’t blame Licht and Smith for what happened to Sims. He still might turn out to be a terrific player.

But you certainly can question why the Bucs didn’t use a third-round pick on a guard.
TAMPA, Fla. -- Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Jonathan Casillas said Monday he violated a team rule, which resulted in him being held out of Saturday’s preseason game at Buffalo.

Casillas
Casillas
Casillas wouldn’t go into detail about the rule he violated. But he did imply that a miscommunication caused him to not be somewhere at the proper time.

"That’s basically what it was," Casillas said. "If anybody knows me you know my track record speaks for itself. I’m not a person that violates a code of conduct or anything like that. It’s something that happened. I take full responsibility for everything that I do on the field and off the field. I think it was handled appropriately. Me and (coach) Lovie (Smith) talked it out and I’m back to work and looking to get better."

Casillas did not make the trip to Buffalo, and Danny Lansanah started in his place at strongside linebacker.

"I don’t really think it was that big of an issue," Casillas said. "Of course, the team did. It’s understandable. I made a mistake, a bad mental decision on my behalf. It happens. I’m not perfect. I try to do things the right way here like I’ve always done in my career. I made a mistake and it got dealt with."

Tommy Streeter among Bucs' cuts

August, 24, 2014
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TAMPA, Fla. -- Wide receiver Tommy Streeter, one of the stars of training camp for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, didn’t make it past the first round of roster cuts.

Streeter was one of 12 players released Sunday as the Bucs started trimming their roster. They now are down to 78 players. Rosters have to be down to 75 players by Tuesday afternoon and to 53 players by Saturday.

Streeter had looked good early in camp and caught a touchdown pass in the preseason opener. The coaching staff had been very complimentary of Streeter. But he seemed to disappear recently and likely was hurt by the fact he wasn’t viewed as someone who could be a regular on special teams.

“It’s always tough when you’ve been with a group of men throughout the offseason and training camp,’’ coach Lovie Smith said. "But eventually the roster has to get down to 53 with 10 practice squad guys. That’s just part of the business.’’

In another minor surprise, the Bucs released veteran long-snapper Jeremy Cain. That means Andrew DePaola will be the long-snapper.

Also waived by the Bucs on Sunday were defensive tackle Euclid Cummings, guard Jace Daniels, wide receiver Skye Dawson, offensive lineman Jason Foster, defensive end Ryne Giddins, guard R.J. Mattes, receiver Eric Page, defensive end Chaz Sutton, quarterback Alex Tanney and fullback Ian Thompson.

The release of Page could be a sign that Solomon Patton has won the return job.
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Since his arrival in Tampa Bay, we’ve heard coach Lovie Smith talk a lot about “Buc Ball". But what that meant exactly never was very clear.

On Saturday, we started to get a picture of what Smith’s been talking about. His defense produced three turnovers and a touchdown in a 27-14 preseason victory against the Buffalo Bills. The offense wasn’t spectacular but it was opportunistic.

Clinton McDonald
Bill Wippert/Associated PressClinton McDonald returned a fumble for a touchdown against the Buffalo Bills on Saturday.
“I talk about a full game," Smith said. “When I say full game I’m talking about offense, defense and special teams. We talk a lot about taking the ball away. We talk about scoring on defense. It’s not a good defensive game unless we’re able to do that. I thought the defense did a great job of setting the tempo on what type of day it will be.’’

Linebacker Lavonte David forced a first-quarter fumble that was recovered by Mason Foster. That set up a quick touchdown by the offense. In the second quarter, defensive tackle Clinton McDonald scored a touchdown after picking up a fumble that was caused by an Adrian Clayborn sack and a Michael Johnson strip.

Is that what Buc Ball is all about?

“Yeah, man," All-Pro defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. “The defense takes the ball away and puts it back in the offense’s hands and the offense puts it in the end zone. That’s kind of what we want to do. It felt good and we want to keep that going. It felt good to actually see it come alive today and now we have to take this into next week and into the regular season.’’

It had been difficult to see any signs of Smith’s philosophy in the first two preseason games, both losses. The Bucs produced only one turnover and the offense was largely ineffective.

But the offense showed some promise against the Bills. With some of the starters playing into the third quarter, the Bucs built a 24-0 lead before the backups let the Bills back in the game. Quarterback Josh McCown completed 13 of 16 passes for 112 yards with one touchdown and an interception. Doug Martin rushed 12 times for 38 yards, Vincent Jackson had five catches and rookie Mike Evans had three receptions, including one for a touchdown.

That’s a pretty good sample of what Tampa Bay’s offense is going to look like.

“I think we had 17 rushes in the first half," Smith said. “That’s what we want to do. To be a running football team you need to have attempts as much as anything."

We haven’t seen all of Buc Ball yet because the team likely is keeping tricks up its sleeve for the regular season. But what we saw Saturday was a rough outline of the type of product Smith wants to put on the field.

W2W4: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

August, 23, 2014
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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-2) and the Buffalo Bills (1-2) play a preseason game Saturday afternoon at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Three things to watch:

1. This will be the game that will determine if the Bucs are content with the guards on their roster or if they get desperate and move someone in from the outside. Oniel Cousins and Patrick Omameh played adequately as the starters last week. The Bucs are hoping for another solid performance from that duo against the Bills. If that doesn’t happen, the Bucs really don’t have any other attractive internal options and they might have to look to make a trade or claim someone off the waiver wire.

2. The Bucs unveiled a no-huddle offense last week and the first-team offense produced a quick touchdown off a turnover. But the starting offense has yet to put together a lengthy scoring drive. With the starters expected to play into the third quarter, it’s time for the offense to show it can put together a long drive.

3. The pass rush hasn’t done a lot in the preseason. The Bucs have produced only two sacks so far. That’s not the kind of production that’s expected from the pass rush in a Lovie Smith defense. Gerald McCoy has been sensational in the middle of the defensive line, but Adrian Clayborn and Michael Johnson have been quiet on the outside. It’s time for them to make an impact.
TAMPA, Fla. – The Tampa Bay Buccaneers didn’t get a lot out of the 17th overall pick of the 2009 draft. Maybe they’ll get more out of the 16th pick.

The Bucs used the 17th pick in the draft on quarterback Josh Freeman. His career fell apart last season during a well-publicized feud with former coach Greg Schiano. Very quietly last week, the Bucs acquired the guy that was taken one pick ahead of Freeman.

That was Larry English. A defensive end at Northern Illinois, the San Diego Chargers drafted English with the intent of using him at outside linebacker. The position switch and injuries helped prevent English from ever producing anything close to what the Chargers had hoped. San Diego gave up on English just before the start of training camp.

[+] EnlargeLarry English
Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY SportsLarry English (center) signed with Tampa Bay after five seasons with the San Diego Chargers.
English said his arrival in Tampa Bay represents a fresh start.

“I feel rejuvenated," English said. “I feel excited about this opportunity. In a lot of ways, I feel like it’s my first year all over again in the sense that I feel like I’ve got a new energy. I say that in the positive light in the sense of being reenergized. Situations happen and you get released; it makes you look inside yourself a little bit and really analyze the situations and what could have been handled better. It was a little bit of a hard time when I was in limbo, but now that I’m back learning and working every day, I feel really energized."

English said he doesn’t like to make excuses, but acknowledged that injuries prevented him from developing in San Diego.

“When you’re in a situation for a long time you can’t really see outside of it," English said. “It’s hard to be able to really analyze if the grass is greener or not. Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t. I like the spot I’m in right now and I’m excited about this opportunity."

In Tampa Bay, English is getting a look as a defensive end.

“I really do like the scheme a lot," English said. “I think I fit well in the scheme. As a defensive end in this scheme, it’s a lot about motor, it’s a lot about heart, it’s a lot about playing fast and getting off the ball. I definitely think that will work well for me."

English might be a long shot to make the roster. But he was a low-risk signing who possibly could bring big rewards.

“We’re always looking for outside pass rushers," coach Lovie Smith said. “We brought Larry in, hoping that he could give us some of that. In practice, the first day he was OK. The next day he was better. So we’re anxious to let him play. You might see him early in (Saturday’s preseason game at Buffalo). We want to see him against good competition to see exactly what he can do."
TAMPA, Fla. -- Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Da'Quan Bowers is a realist.

Bowers
A day after coach Lovie Smith implied that Bowers' roster spot could be in danger because of missed practice time due to a groin injury, Bowers said he knows what is at stake.

"Everybody’s on the bubble," Bowers said. "There are a select few guys here that have got their spots. The rest of us are competing for jobs. Nobody’s set in stone, definitely not me. I just take that into consideration each and every day."

Bowers said he understood Smith’s comments and is doing everything possible to get back on the field as quickly as possible.

"You can’t prevent injury," Bowers said. "It happens. Like coach said, any time you can’t perform on the practice field it gives someone else another opportunity. When you do get on the practice field, you’ve got to make your reps count and I think I did a pretty decent job of that this camp with the reps I’ve gotten in the game and in practice. Like coach said, the only way to perform and compete is to be on the field."

The reality is the Bucs are set with Michael Johnson and Adrian Clayborn as their starters. They also are high on backups Steven Means and William Gholston, and newcomer Larry English has made a good impression. Before the injury, Bowers had been getting some work as a defensive tackle.

Bowers' best hope of making the roster is to make a good impression at defensive tackle and convince the Bucs he can swing between the two positions.
TAMPA, Fla. -- Last week, Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith stepped out of character and criticized tight end Tim Wright for not performing as well as expected.

Wright
This week, it appears as if Smith had a plan to light a fire under Wright. On Thursday, Smith said he’s happy with what he’s seen out of Wright recently.

“He’s responded well,’’ Smith said. “Let me go back and talk on Tim. I love Tim Wright as a football player. You go through spells where you don’t play your best ball for a short period of time. When I talked [previously], there was a little period of time where Tim hadn’t played his best ball.

“But, you look at the big picture, Tim Wright has been a good football player for us. We like what he’ll be able to do. There have been other days we’ve talked about, going forward, what we’re going to do with him. You can split him out, the matchups we have with safeties and linebackers. You can catch me at any time and I might be disappointed in a player. But, big picture, no, there’s no disappointment with Tim Wright. We like him being on our football team.’’

Wright said he was surprised by Smith’s comments, but was motivated by them.

“It does, for sure, especially when you’re in camp and it’s Week 3 and you’re grinding and grinding,’’ Wright said. “You go in robot mode a little bit. Once you hear those comments, it just drives you more to go out there and try to be even better.’’

Wright appears to be back in good graces and I think his roster spot is safe. The Bucs have been using Wright at times as an H-back and he’s expected to be an important part of the offense.
TAMPA, Fla. -- Lovie Smith is known as a defensive coach. He also might be a defensive person.

Smith
Smith got a little defensive Wednesday as he talked about why his Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been practicing during the hottest part of the day.

“I understand other teams practice early in the day to avoid the heat,’’ Smith said. “No, you’ve got to get ready for it. The only way to get ready for it is to practice in it. We’ll continue to do that and it will be an advantage for us.’’

Even after breaking training camp, the Bucs have continued to practice in the afternoon. The past two days have been particularly hot with the heat index reaching above 100 degrees.

There’s logic behind Smith’s practice schedule. The Bucs open the regular season with two home games (against Carolina and St. Louis) that will begin late in the afternoon.

“It has to be an advantage for us,’’ Smith said. “I know, I’m new to the area, and you feel the heat. It does make a difference. Late in the year – Green Bay, Chicago, those outdoor teams have an advantage over warm-weather teams that come up. We feel like we have the same. Not feel like. We do. It will affect our game and we need to be ready.’’

Smith said the extensive practice in the heat should give his team an edge. Detractors may say Smith runs the risk of wearing his team out.

“I guess they’ll think that way and we’ll kind of see who ends up getting the better end of it,’’ Smith said. “Again, I think you have an advantage when you train in an environment. That’s not going to shock us at all and it will shock an opponent.’’
TAMPA, Fla. -- Lovie Smith is playing the preseason by the book.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach said Wednesday his starters will get extensive play in Saturday’s preseason away game against the Buffalo Bills.

“The guys that start the game on our team will play into the third quarter,’’ Smith said. “They know that. From there, we’ll kind of see how it all works out. What we want to see as much as anything is we’re trying to hit on all the different situations. Right now, we’ve done it for the most part. But now it’s about players learning to come in at the half, us to make adjustments and then to finish up strong in that third quarter. So this is a big part of the evaluation for us.’’

Playing starters into the third quarter of the third preseason game is pretty much the norm. The starters played the first quarter in the preseason opener and into the second quarter in the second game.

The Bucs have lost their first two preseason games, but they did show some progress from the first to the second contest. Smith said he’s looking for one thing Saturday.

“Improved play,’’ Smith said. “When you come in as a new staff, we can’t set a whole lot of lofty goals. Based on what? We’re starting from scratch. For us, we set the bar against Jacksonville. We wanted better play last week and we got that. Now we need to take another big, big step as I see it. We’re playing the division champs (the Carolina Panthers) to open up the [regular] season. We need to play our best ball. We need to be peaking about that time. We need to see something that we really like this week.’’

Da'Quan Bowers on the hot seat?

August, 20, 2014
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TAMPA, Fla. -- A few months before the 2011 draft, Da'Quan Bowers was being talked about as the possible first overall selection. Now, the fourth-year defensive end might not even make the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' roster.

Bowers, who dropped to the second round of the draft due to concerns about a knee injury, has had a disappointing career to this point. There was some thought that the arrival of new coach Lovie Smith might give Bowers a fresh start and help him prosper. But Smith said some pretty revealing things about Bowers on Wednesday. Bowers has been sidelined by a groin injury and missed another practice Wednesday.

"I think every day you don't practice you're hurting your chances," Smith said. "We've seen enough to like Da'Quan a lot, but all the reps that he's not getting, someone else is getting. The best way to beat your competition sometimes is just to stay on the field. You can't get Wally Pipped."

The Bucs have some other young defensive ends (William Gholston and Steven Means) that they're high on. The Bucs also have experimented some with Bowers lining up at defensive tackle. But the missed practice time obviously hasn't helped Bowers' stock.

"Da'Quan is trying to get back," Smith said. "I think he has a future in the league whether it be as a defensive end outside or more of a third-down rush guy inside."

But there obviously is some doubt that Bowers' future is with the Buccaneers.
TAMPA, Fla. -- If Solomon Patton ends up as the return man for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the team might want to thank Urban Meyer.

Back when Meyer was the coach at the University of Florida, he delivered an important message when he was recruiting Patton.

"He was big on special teams," Patton said. "He was the one that told me about the importance of special teams. During the recruiting process they told me, 'You’re going to have to play special teams. A lot of people think they just come in and play their position. You start out playing special teams and you get your chance if you’re able to play that position that you want to play.'"

Patton eventually got his chance to play wide receiver, but he spent his first two college seasons working mostly on special teams. If Patton is going to earn a roster spot with the Bucs, he’s going to have to start off on special teams.

So far, it looks like Patton has a shot at sticking on the roster. He handled returns in last week’s preseason game with Miami. When the depth chart came out for this week’s game against Buffalo, Patton was listed as the first-team returner for punts and kickoffs.

"We’ve been taking a look at a lot of different guys, and the ones that made something happen get another look," coach Lovie Smith said. "It’s kind of simple as that with him. We plan on giving him a couple of looks this week on both returns -- kickoff and of course punts, too."

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