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Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Hate to admit it but the Bucs would be perfect for Hard Knocks

Jameis Winston could be ratings gold. He drips charisma, Rick Stroud writes.


Jameis Winston could be ratings gold. He drips charisma, Rick Stroud writes.

Jameis Winston could be ratings gold. He drips charisma. Cut to Winston driving in the dark to One Buc Place. Interacting with coaches and teammates. Oh, the motivational moments. (“We some dogs, we ain’t no puppies!’)

Mike Evans is a budding superstar, but not shy about speaking his mind. Kwon Alexander and Robert Ayers might require some bleeps. Gerald McCoy is constantly counting his blessings. Coach Dirk Koetter is a heck of a lot more intense than anybody outside of One Buc Place realizes.

The Bucs are among the eight potential teams that can be mandated by the NFL to appear on the HBO series Hard Knocks for 2017. It’s hard to imagine the franchise will ever lobby to become part of the weekly preseason program. But there is an upside to marketing your product, especially if the arrow is pointing up.

The Bucs are coming off a 9-7 season where they narrowly missed the playoffs. It’s an important year and tension is good television for the NFL Films production. …

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NFL Draft Q&A: Miami cornerback Corn Elder

Our daily NFL Draft Q&A continues with Miami cornerback Corn Elder, who faces size concerns entering the draft but made plays all over the field with the Hurricanes, including return touchdowns on a punt and kickoff return in 2015. He took a few minutes to talk about preparing for the draft and Miami's pro day in late March. ...

Q: Where are you training to get ready for combine and your pro day?

A: "I'm training down here in Miami at Core Fitness, in Wynwood. (Miami safety) Jamal Carter, (Miami WR) Stacy Coley, (Miami TE) David Njoku, (Miami TE) Stan Dobard, (Louisville RB) Brandon Radcliff are here.

Q: Is there one number you're trying to improve for pro day?

A: "I've just been trying to work on my strength, gaining some weight and definitely working on my speed. I'm around 183. I finished the season around 180. I'm just trying to get to 185 or anything over that."

Q: What did the Senior Bowl do for you, getting to put yourself out there against other draft hopefuls?

A: "It was definitely a good experience. You get to play against the best players in the draft. Just to see where I'm at, see what I need to work on more, to get to take coaching from some NFL coaches." …

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Fastest ever to 100 sacks? It's not Simeon Rice

Simeon Rice earned his 100th career sack on Dec. 5, 2004, in his 139th NFL game.

Times files (2004)

Simeon Rice earned his 100th career sack on Dec. 5, 2004, in his 139th NFL game.

There's a lot of attention being drawn to false statements being made repeatedly by public figures, and the crucial role of journalists to set the record straight. Yes, I'm talking about ... former Bucs defensive end Simeon Rice claiming to be the fastest player ever to 100 career sacks.

Rice has been vocal in complaining that he hasn't been seriously considered for the Pro Football Hall of Fame -- he's been retired for nine years now, and has never been so much as a semifinalist (final 25), let alone the cuts to 10 or ultimately, five. And Rice has some statistics that certainly put them in the conversation. He just doesn't need to embellish them as he continues to do.

For three years in a row, after the selections were announced and Rice again wasn't even an option for the selection committee, Rice has boasted on Twitter that he was "100+ sacks fastest ever to do it" (2015) and "fastest to 100 sacks in the history" (2016) and now "fastest to 100 sacks." National writers see this, retweet his claim and say it makes a compelling case for him, except it's not true. It's not an easy stat to quickly verify or dispute, so it gets incorrectly passed along as fact. …

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Bucs increase price of season tickets for second straight year

After enjoying their first winning season in six years, the Bucs are making some of their fans pay more to see a game at Raymond James Stadium in 2017.

For the second year in a row, the Bucs are raising season ticket prices in most seats, with increases as much as 20 percent for some upper and lower level seats.

The team began a social media blitz advertising season ticket passes Saturday.

The Bucs raised ticket prices last season for the first time in eight years. Prior to that increase, Tampa Bay had the second lowest ticket price in the NFL in 2015 with an average price of $62.35.

But the two-year hike has seen the price of some upper level seats increase by as much as 50 percent, going from $300 to $450. Ten other upper-level sections have gone from $350 to $500, a two-year increase of 43 percent. Lower level 50-yard line seats have gone from $990 to $1350 over the same period, an increase of 36 percent.

For 2017, some seats will remain unchanged."

The Bucs went 9-7 in their first year under head coach Dirk Koetter last season, narrowly missing the playoffs but expanding their post-season drought to nine seasons. …

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Bucs need Noah Spence to make a Beasley-like improvement

Two days before Super Bowl LI in Houston, Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff recalled a conversation he had with Vic Beasley following his rookie year. …

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Video: Bucs' Gerald McCoy vs. WWE's Seth Rollins in Madden

Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy had some fun shooting a 20-minute video with WWE star Seth Rollins, with the five-time Pro Bowler taking a Madden challenge.


Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy had some fun shooting a 20-minute video with WWE star Seth Rollins, with the five-time Pro Bowler taking a Madden challenge.

While in Orlando for the Pro Bowl a few weeks back, Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy had some fun shooting a 20-minute video with WWE star Seth Rollins, with the five-time Pro Bowler taking a Madden challenge and playing as the Bucs (and himself) against Rollins as the Bears.

We don't want to give up the outcome, but McCoy gets pretty excited during the game, with a defensive touchdown and a close finish. McCoy's commentary -- on Bears QB Jay Cutler and teammates like Doug Martin and Will Gholston -- is worth your time. Rollins has faced off against other NFL stars like Travis Kelce before, and the back-and-forth between players and even spectators is half the fun.

Here's a link to the video.

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NFL Draft Q&A: Oklahoma State DT Vincent Taylor

Our daily NFL Draft Q&A series continues with Oklahoma State defensive tackle Vincent Taylor, who had to leave New Orleans at age 11 due to Hurricane Katrina, his family moving to San Antonio, where he would return in his final college game as the Cowboys played in the Alamo Bowl. He declared early for the NFL draft as a redshirt junior, but will have his degree in May and stopped to talk to us about his draft prep ...

Q: Where are you doing your training for the combine and pro day?

A: "I'm at EXOS in San Diego. I've been here since Jan. 9. Solomon Thomas, Taco (Charlton), Jabrill Peppers, Pat Mahomes and other guys are out here."

Q: You're 6-foot-2, 305 pounds. What's a good 40 time for you at the combine?

A: "Low 5 would be good, 5.1. Nothing over a 5.1, but I'm going to try to push myself into 5 flat or under 5."

Q: You had four years of school, but how much did you think about the decision to leave for the NFL or come back for a fifth year? …

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Ex-Bucs TE Seferian-Jenkins reaches plea deal on DUI charge

Former Bucs tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, cut by Tampa Bay in September after his arrest on a charge of driving under the influence, reached a plea agreement Wednesday by pleading no contest to a lesser charge of reckless driving, according to court records.

Seferian-Jenkins, who now plays for the New York Jets, agreed to 12 months of probation, 50 hours of community service, a $500 fine and must attend a DUI prevention class, according to the plea agreement. A second charge of failing to obey restrictions ordered by the court, relating to not using an ignition interlock device on his car, has been dropped as part of the agreement.

Seferian-Jenkins, 24, had 10 catches for 110 yards and no touchdowns in seven games with the Jets after being cut by the Bucs. He is under contract with the Jets for the 2017 season, and could still face discipline from the league. His plea agreement was first reported by ESPN.

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NFL Draft Q&A: Stanford safety Dallas Lloyd

Our daily NFL Draft Q&A series continues with Stanford safety Dallas Lloyd, who took a two-year mission before college, shifted from quarterback to safety and got advice from other Cardinal position-changers like John Lynch and Richard Sherman. He has good size at 6-3, 209 pounds and had five interceptions as a senior, and he took a minute from classes at Stanford to talk about his path to the draft ...

Q: First of all, where are you training to get ready for your pro day?

A: "I'm staying here in the Bay area, with a guy named Kellen McCrary. He has a gym in Sacramento and I go up there once a week and he comes down here to train me the rest of the week. There's another teammate of mine training with us named Jordan Watkins. We're still in school, so that's one of the main reasons I stayed in the Bay area. I'm finishing up a Master's program. I'm finishing school and training at the same time."

Q: What's your degree going to be in? …

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Florida colleges send 30 players to NFL combine

The official list of 330 players invited to this year's NFL combine is out, and as you may suspect, Florida's colleges are sending more prospects than any other state, with a total of 30 from seven different schools.

Miami, surprisingly, leads the state with nine prospects, just ahead of Florida and Florida State with eight each. There's a big dropoff to USF (2), and one each from UCF, Florida Atlantic and Florida International. The next closest state -- we pause a moment to let you fashion an educated guess -- is California, with 24 prospects, ahead of Texas (22) and Michigan, which has 21, including a massive 14 from the University of Michigan.

Which state has the most schools sending players to the combine? Florida's seven falls just short of this year's high of eight, set by Texas (Texas A&M, Baylor, Houston, TCU, UTEP, Texas, Texas Tech, Lamar), Ohio (Ohio State, Toledo, Ohio, Youngstown, Miami, Akron, Ashland, Cincinnati) and Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh, Temple, Penn State, Villanova, Saint Francis, Bucknell, Indiana, Kutztown). …

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Bucs again unlikely to utilize franchise tag this year

The Bucs rarely use their franchise or transition player tag and that isn’t expected to change this year.

The two-week window to apply one of those tags began today and runs through March 1. The Bucs used their franchise tag on tackle Paul Gruber the first time it was available in 1993. But in the 23 years since, Tampa Bay has utilized that designation only three other times.

The franchise tag can be applied to a player about to enter unrestricted free agency. It would guarantee that player a one-year contract at the average salary of the top five players at that position. The transition tag guarantees a one-year deal at the average salary of the top 10 players at that position. However, if 120 percent of a player’s salary from the previous season is higher, he would receive that amount.

Those tags are also used sometimes to extend the negotiating window with a player who otherwise would hit free agency, but that comes at a risk if they player opts to simply sign the one-year contract rather than a long-term deal. …

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Kiper mock draft has Bucs taking WR Corey Davis at 19

Oh, if only the NFL draft would fall this way for the Bucs.

In his latest mock draft, ESPN’s Mel Kiper has Western Michigan receiver Corey Davis falling to Tampa Bay at No. 19 overall.

To say the Bucs would be delighted to see this actually happen is an understatement. Among the most glaring needs is to continue to surround quarterback Jameis Winston with more weapons. Vincent Jackson is a free agent, and at 34, is contemplating retirement although no decision has been reached.

At 6-2, 205 pounds, Davis is one of the more accomplished receivers in the draft, with a staggering 332 career receptions for 5,285 yards and 52 touchdowns for the Broncos. Sure, the Mid-American Conference is not the NFL, but he is a very smooth route runner and fast.

While Davis isn’t expected to run at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis next month due to an ankle injury, draft experts believe he will be in the 4.4 range in the 40-yard dash at his pro day.

It’s somewhat unimaginable that Davis would be available outside of the top 15 if he has good workouts. He was one of the standouts at the Senior Bowl workouts. …

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NFL Draft Q&A: West Virginia CB Rasul Douglas

Today's NFL Draft Q&A is with West Virginia cornerback Rasul Douglas -- his first name is rah-sool, not rah-zhul -- who burst onto the scene this past season. Not many players go from redshirting at a junior college to the top three rounds of the NFL draft, but Douglas could -- after three years of junior college, he had just eight tackles as a junior at WVU, then had 70 as a senior, along with eight interceptions. The 6-foot-2, 206-pound prospect took a few minutes to talk about his preparation for the draft ...

Q: Where are you training to get ready for combine and pro day?

A: "EXOS, in San Diego. Me, Taco (Charlton), Solomon (Thomas), Jabrill Peppers, Michael Rector, Tarell Basham, a lot of guys. It's going well."

Q: What are the most important things for you to improve on before the combine?

A: "Just everything. Everything I know the scouts are looking for in myself, in my all-around game. I've added different pieces to my game, getting faster, stronger, doing everything with consistency. The biggest thing for me is consistency." …

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Bucs reunion: Donnie Abraham joining Lovie Smith at Illinois

Donnie Abraham's 31 career interceptions with the Bucs still rank second all-time, behind only Ronde Barber.


Donnie Abraham's 31 career interceptions with the Bucs still rank second all-time, behind only Ronde Barber.

Former Bucs coach Lovie Smith has tabbed another familiar name for his coaching staff at Illinois, with former Bucs cornerback Donnie Abraham expected to join his staff as an assistant.

Abraham, 43, was coaching at IMG Academy in Bradenton, following coaching stints at Clearwater, East Lake and Gibbs high schools in Pinellas County. He overlapped with Smith as a Bucs player from 1996-2001 -- his 31 career interceptions with the Bucs still rank second all-time, behind only Ronde Barber. He's the second former Bucs player on Smith's staff, joining defensive coordinator and former Bucs linebacker Hardy Nickerson.

Abraham's hiring hasn't been formally announced by Illinois yet, but he's expected to work with the defensive secondary. His first season at Illinois will have him again going up against his son Devin, who is a rising senior safety at USF, which plays host to the Illini on Sept. 15. Father and son have squared off before, when Devin was playing at East Lake.

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NFL Draft Q&A: Gators tackle David Sharpe

Gators left tackle David Sharpe left after his junior year to enter the draft.


Gators left tackle David Sharpe left after his junior year to enter the draft.

Our daily NFL Draft Q&A stays local with Gators left tackle David Sharpe, who left after his junior year to enter the draft. Sharpe took a minute to talk with us about his decision to leave early, his work to lower his weight before the combine and his toughest challenge in the SEC. ...

Q: First, where are you doing your training leading up to the combine and pro day?

A: "I'm training in Bradenton at IMG Academy. It's a nice environment. I feel like I have a lot of attention with only three linemen, with Alabama's Korren Kirven, who plays right guard, and a center from McNeese State, Thor Miller. The facility is top of the line."

Q: What are the most important things for you to improve before combine?

A: "Weight-wise, definitely getting stronger, and both of those are going very well so far. Knowing what's in front of me, going through these drills to make them look easy and smooth. Running a good 40 time. I'm definitely seeing big improvements since I've been here."

Q: Florida had you listed at 6-foot-6, 357 pounds last season. Where are you now?

A: "About 343. I came in here at 353, 354. 340 is fine, but I'd like to get down to 335. I played at 353, 355 last year." …

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