Twelve days before the regular season opener, the Bucs had three place-kickers at practice Tuesday — Kyle Brindza, a rookie from Notre Dame who arrived in a trade a day earlier from the Lions in exchange for tight end Tim Wright; Connor Barth, the most reliable kicker in team history who was cut by the Broncos last week; and Patrick Murray, the second-year pro who took Barth's job a year ago but quickly is losing his grip on the gig.
Barth missed his only field goal attempt, from 43 yards, in Saturday's loss to the Browns.
Barth, 29, is an 85.3 percent field goal kicker. His career was derailed in 2013, when he tore his Achilles playing in a charity basketball game. He felt pretty good about things after signing a two-year, $2.75 million contract last week. Then Brindza showed up. "If I don't miss a field goal (Saturday), maybe it's a different story," he said.
Brindza, 22, would seem to have a leg up on Barth and Murray in this competition. With the Lions, he was perfect on three field goals, connecting from 41, 49 and 51 yards, and made both extra points. Just as important, seven of his eight kickoffs resulted in touchbacks. In an emergency, Brindza could also punt. Barth owners were at least relieved their kicker had a job after getting cut by Denver but that may not be the case again by the start of the season.
Jameis Winston may be going into the season with a limp.
The Buccaneers quarterback said that he's been dealing with a sprained ankle, but says it isn't bothering him.
"Pain is temporary," Winston told the media Monday. "I really don't focus on that at all. I played last year at Florida State with a sprained ankle, so that's the least of my worries. My job is to go out there and play quarterback and fight for the team."
Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter confirmed that Winston is feeling the effects of an ankle sprain, but Tampa Bay fans shouldn't be worried.
"It's affecting him a little bit," Koetter added, "but he'll be ready to go. ... It's not anything he can't play on. Even in practice, Jameis, you can't keep him out."
Winston rolled his ankle in Tampa Bay's second preseason game against the Bengals, but still played meaningful minutes against the Browns on Saturday. Winston may not be 100 percent healthy by his rookie debut against the Titans in Week 1, but all indications are his sprained ankle won't hamper him too much.
The Detroit Lions have swung yet another preseason trade, although this one wasn't for a draft pick.
That means Wright's addition casts some uncertainty of Joseph Fauria's future with Detroit.
The move is an interesting one because Wright is a pass-catching tight end, with 80 receptions for 830 yards and 11 touchdowns the past two years, according to the story. And Detroit already has two pass-catching tight ends in Eric Ebron and Fauria, plus blocking tight end Brandon Pettigrew. The story said Ebron and Pettigrew, both former first-round picks, aren't going anywhere.
Buccaneers beat writer Pat Yasinskas: Second-year tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins had only 21 catches as a rookie, but that was largely because he was dealing with an assortment of injuries. Seferian-Jenkins is healthy now and the Bucs believe he can turn in 60 or more catches. New offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter likes to use the tight end in the passing game as evidenced by what he did with Tony Gonzalez in Atlanta.
We currently project ASJ for 48-572-3.8, which makes him our #14 tight end in standard formats. If he turns in 60 catches at last year's YPC (10.5), it translates to 631 receiving yards. Throw in five or six touchdowns and we're looking at fringe TE1 numbers.
Buccaneers WR Mike Evans says his sore left hamstring isn’t so sore that he wouldn’t be able to play this week if it were absolutely necessary. Still, he believes the Bucs are doing the prudent thing by shutting him down for the remainder of the preseason.
“I think it’s smart,’’ said Evans, who tweaked his hamstring early in the Bucs victory over the Bengals on Monday night. “There’s no reason to risk it. I’ve already proven myself. And this way I can just try to get back for Week 1 of the regular season.’’
It sounds like the injury isn't much to worry about and that Evans will be ready to go Week 1.
Connor Barth is returning to Tampa.
A mere hours after being released by the Broncos, Barth agreed to terms with the Buccaneers on a two-year deal, the team announced Wednesday. The deal is for a maximum value of $2.75 million, NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported, via a source informed of his decision.
Barth kicked for the Bucs from 2009 to 2013, drawing the franchise tag in 2012. One of the most accurate kickers of the past half-decade, Barth has drilled 85.3 percent of his field goals and 100 percent of his extra points. Patrick Murray was slated to be the Bucs kicker before this transaction.
Wednesday, August 26, 2015, 9:17pm
Thaddeus Lewis doesn’t see Saturday’s preseason game against Tampa Bay any differently than the previous two.
In the veteran quarterback’s eyes, his job remains the same. The only difference is he’s one step closer to the top of the depth chart.
Lewis likely will serve as the Browns’ second and final quarterback against the Buccaneers. Johnny Manziel is expected to be sidelined because of a sore elbow, and Connor Shaw remains out indefinitely with an injured thumb, leaving Lewis and starter Josh McCown as the two healthy options behind center for Cleveland’s most important game before the regular season.
“It’s a great opportunity,” Lewis said. “You have to go out there and show that you’re capable of stepping in and the offense not losing a beat as if Josh or Johnny was in there. Josh is the starter and you put another guy in, can he continue to do the job that a starter would do, and that’s the opportunity I would have Saturday, and that’s what I look forward to doing.”
Lost in QB Jameis Winston's shadow is the play of running back Doug Martin in Monday night's preseason victory against Cincinnati. Martin had six carries for 59 yards (a 9.8-yard average), including 52 yards on an opening touchdown drive.
He looked more like the Martin who rushed for more than 1,400 yards as a rookie in 2012 than like the player who has struggled through injuries the past two seasons.
"First off, he's healthy and you know how much that means to a running back," coach Lovie Smith said Tuesday. "He's worked hard. He's looked good in training camp practices but you want to see him do it in a game. There were holes last night. But there was also a wall and he was stopped at the line of scrimmage a couple of times and he made something out of nothing a few times. He broke tackles and ran hard. Just a good game."
Martin's play in training camp has had the coaching staff talking and his performance against the Bengals only added to the excitement that he might be able to be the player he once was. Martin could also be inspired by his contract situation as the Bucs declined his 2016 option. There are plenty of backs behind Martin who have shown flashes at one time or another in Charles Sims, Bobby Rainey and Mike James.
The Buccaneers have a short turnaround from Monday night’s game against the Bengals to Saturday’s matchup with the Browns and they aren’t going to risk further injury to wide receiver Mike Evans’s hamstring by playing him in that contest.
After that comes the fourth preseason game, which is usually conducted by players vying for spots on the lower rungs of the depth chart and/or the practice squad. Evans is in neither of those groups and, as a result, coach Lovie Smith announced Tuesday, via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, that Evans will not play again until the regular season.
As for whether Evans will be ready to play when the regular season gets started, Smith said that the team will “take every precaution” during Evans’s recovery and not rush him back into the lineup before he’s healed, the story said. It's a situation to watch as hopefully the team is just being cautious with Evans and it won't affect the start of the real season. As the story pointed out, it's valuable live action he's missing with QB Jameis Winston, at least for the third preseason game.
“I talked to him and he didn’t feel like it was that serious,’’ Smith said. “We wanted to get our (starters) into the second quarter and then get them out.’’
Evans left the game in the second quarter and did not return. Obviously good news but the hope is this doesn't linger into the season.
Monday, August 24, 2015, 5:08pm
Quarterback Jameis Winston has spent the bulk of his rookie offseason learning the playbook and preparing to lead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2015. While that's obviously still the focus, Roy Cummings of The Tampa Tribune reports that there's one other key thing Lovie Smith wants Winston to focus on.
Protecting himself better.
This all stems from Winston running during the team's 26-16 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
“Well, he hadn’t run the ball (until then),’’ Bucs coach Lovie Smith told Cummings. “So, yes, in these coming weeks we will work on teaching him how to protect himself a little better and when to get down.’’
As Cummings explains, Winston dove headfirst on all three scrambles during the preseason game. Obviously, this is something the Bucs need to fix immediately, because you can't have your franchise quarterback taking big hits. Winston stated that he was always taught something different, but there's little chance his mindset will stay that way for long. That's what Michael Vick said too, but never seemed to be able to adjust to sliding rather than going head first, and it often cost him with injuries.
Tuesday, August 18, 2015, 8:18pm
First, Jameis Winston said he is a dreamer. Then, he backed it up.
The rookie quarterback of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers said Tuesday he sees a great future for himself and second-year receiver Mike Evans. Winston wasn't talking just great. He was talking greatest of all time.
"I always tell Mike, 'Mike, it's Joe Montana and Jerry Rice' and things like that," Winston said. "That was one of the best duos of all time. I love this game of football so much, so I try to relate me and a great receiver like him to other players that have done it before."
That's a very lofty goal. But Winston and Evans at least have the potential to be a duo for the ages. Winston comes with all the pedigree of being a Heisman Trophy winner and the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. Evans had an outstanding rookie year, piling up more than 1,000 receiving yards despite some shaky play from the quarterbacks, the story said.
He was given a new lease this year under offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter and coach Lovie Smith has already bestowed upon him the starting gig.
Martin, who is leaner and quicker this camp, believes he can have a big season.
"The sky is the limit," Martin said, via ESPN.com. "We have a lot of potential going into this year with this team. We have a lot of weapons and a lot of guys with fire in them that want to be successful. I just can't wait to get out there with them."
The coaching staff reportedly loves Charles Sims, but OC Dirk Koetter fought to keep Martin with the team during the offseason, and he still sits atop the team's depth chart after a very strong offseason. The offense should be improved with Jameis Winston under center and a better offensive line up front. Martin is going in the 6th, so he's a good target for the “wait on RB” crowd.
Tuesday, August 11, 2015, 12:27pm
Murphy had been sidelined with an ankle injury since the start of camp.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins is starting to turn potential into reality.
The Bucs’ second-year tight end has been healthy in camp, showcasing the skills that made him a second-round draft pick out of the University of Washington. He suffered through typical rookie growing pains last fall, when injuries and erratic focus helped limit him to only 21 receptions.
“We’ve talked about Austin since he got here, what his potential will be,’’ Bucs coach Lovie Smith said. “Every day he’s on the field, he confirms that more. There’s not a whole lot to dislike about Austin — we have big plans for him.’’
Seferian-Jenkins seems to be getting a lot of hype this offseason, despite being in an offense with Jameis Winston, Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans. Seferian-Jenkins sure could get lost around talent like that, which could be a good thing for fantasy owners. The story didn't go into a lot of detail about the plans, but we can conclude he should see a lot of space in the middle of the field with the talent at WR, so there's upside for owners. If you're going to wait at the position, or want a high-end TE2 for your roster, he could be your guy.
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