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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs relieved Jameis Winston is 'day to day,' with sprain to his right throwing shoulder

The Bucs got good news on quarterback Jameis Winston, who is ‘day-to-day,’ after an MRI revealed a sprained AC joint in his right throwing shoulder but no structural damage, coach Dirk Koetter said Monday.

Winston will be limited at practice and is not expected to throw the football much this week but has not been ruled out as the starter against the Buffalo Bills Sunday.

Winston was injured with just over nine minutes left in the first quarter of the Bucs 38-33 loss at Arizona Sunday when he was hit by Cardinals linebacker Chandler Jones attempting to throw a pass that fell incomplete. Winston played two more offensive series, completing three passes, but took himself out of the game because he did not feel he had enough velocity on his throws. …

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Koetter 'extremely' concerned with CB Vernon Hargreaves' play

Bucs cornerback Vernon Hargreaves makes a tackle against Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who had 128 receiving yards in the first half of Sunday's 38-33 win against Tampa Bay.

LOREN ELLIOTT | TIMES

Bucs cornerback Vernon Hargreaves makes a tackle against Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who had 128 receiving yards in the first half of Sunday's 38-33 win against Tampa Bay.

The Bucs now rank 31st in the NFL in pass defense, allowing 301 yards per game in their 2-3 start, and Dirk Koetter was asked Monday how concerned he is with the play of second-year CB Vernon Hargreaves.

"Extremely," Koetter said. "I'm concerned with everybody's play after the way we played the first half yesterday, but Vern is not in a very good streak of games right now. We asked Vern to be more aggressive this year with his coverage, and he started out doing that, in OTAs and training camp, but he has not played his best football these last three games."

Veteran CB Brent Grimes has played well on one side, getting another interception Sunday, but Hargreaves has struggled, dropping back to give a deeper cushion and allowing teams to throw consistently into his coverage.

"I don't think it's a confidence thing, but I'm not 100 percent sure on that," said Koetter, adding that it wasn't about preparation or ability. "We all have to play better. I have to coach better. I'm not trying to make this a Vernon Hargreaves bashing session. ... If we could just snap our fingers and fix stuff, it'd already be done. You wouldn't be asking me about it." …

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Jameis Winston shoulder injury is AC joint sprain

Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston throws during Sunday's loss at Arizona. He played only 15 offensive snaps before he left with a shoulder injury, which is reported to be a sprain of the AC joint, something he might be able to play through.

LOREN ELLIOTT | TIMES

Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston throws during Sunday's loss at Arizona. He played only 15 offensive snaps before he left with a shoulder injury, which is reported to be a sprain of the AC joint, something he might be able to play through.

The shoulder injury that Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston sustained in Sunday's loss to Arizona is an AC joint sprain, an injury he might be able to play through moving forward.

Winston left in the second quarter of Sunday's game and was replaced by backup Ryan Fitzpatrick. Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said after the game that x-rays were negative on Winston's shoulder but that an MRI on Monday would show whether there was any damage to the shoulder. Winston didn't go into detail about the injury, but said "I'll be back. Soon." The specifics of his injury were first reported by NFL Network.

The acromioclavicular joint is at the top of the shoulder and a sprain is a common football injury -- the severity of Winston's reported sprain is unknown, but they're graded from 1 to 6 and for him to be in a position to play this week, it would likely be a minor sprain, with only a minor sprain or partial tear of the three ligaments connected to the joint. Compared to some of the potential diagnoses from a shoulder injury, it could be taken as good news for Winston's recovery timetable. …

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Four drives, 316 yards: How Bucs fell behind 24-0 to Cards

Cardinals running back Adrian Peterson runs through the Bucs defense in helping Arizona to a 24-0 halftime lead Sunday.

LOREN ELLIOTT | TIMES

Cardinals running back Adrian Peterson runs through the Bucs defense in helping Arizona to a 24-0 halftime lead Sunday.

Entering Sunday's game with the Bucs, the Arizona Cardinals hadn't scored more than 23 points in any game this season, and hadn't scored more than 18 since their season opener. They would cover that in a hurry against Tampa Bay.

"We cannot, cannot, cannot give people that big of a lead," defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. "This is the NFL. You can't do it. You can't do it."

It was telling that Arizona won the coin toss and elected to receive, wanting to set the tone rather than defer to the second half as most teams do. If there were questions about Adrian Peterson, acquired for a low-round pick from the Saints this week, then they were answered on the opening drive. Peterson had runs of 8, 8 and 11 yards, then a 27-yard touchdown for a stunning 7-0 lead, going 75 yards on six plays.

The next drive, a full 86 yards, was Carson Palmer's, with 29 yards to Larry Fitzgerald, 15 to John Brown, and finally a 14-yard throw to tight end Troy Niklas. Arizona's up 14-0, they've only gone to third down once and the Bucs have one first down. …

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Jameis Winston injures throwing shoulder, Bucs concerned

Jameis Winston knew something was wrong with his right throwing shoulder. He was hit by linebacker Chandler Jones trying to complete a pass on third down in the first series of the game in the Bucs’ 38-33 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

He came off the field holding his right arm straight to his side. He talked to trainers. He made some warmup tosses to Ryan Fitzpatrick. He sat down. He made a few more.

He came back into the game and completed his next three passes for 39 yards. But Winston left after one series into the second quarter when he threw incomplete on three consecutive passes.

“When I started warming up on the sidelines, that’s when I felt it,’’ Winston said. “I tried, I tried to battle it out and I guess sitting on the sideline only makes it worse and it stiffened up. That’s all.

“I fell on my shoulder. Yeah, I’ve done had that injury before. If it was in my other shoulder, it would’ve been fine but the throwing shoulder is kind of tough.’’

Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said x-rays were negative on Winston’s shoulder but he will undergo an MRI on Monday. …

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Winston hurts throwing shoulder, Bucs fall 38-33

Quarterback Jameis Winston hurt his right throwing shoulder and was forced to leave the game in the second quarter of the Bucs’ 38-33 loss to the Arizona Cardinals Sunday.

Suddenly, a Bucs season so drunk with promise showed signs of withering in the dry Arizona desert.

Winston became injured when he tried to extend a play on the first series of the game and took a hit from Cardinals linebacker Chandler Jones. He came off the field holding his arm straight to his side. He talked to trainers. He made some warmup tosses to Ryan Fitzpatrick. He sat down. He made a few more.

He came back into the game and completed his next three passes for 39 yards. But Winston left after one series into the second quarter when he threw incomplete on three consecutive passes.By then the Cardinals had built a 21-0 lead. They it 31-0 by the start of the third quarter.

The Bucs defense never put up a fight despite the return of starters Lavonte David and T.J. Ward. …

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Winston sidelined with shoulder injury with Bucs down 24-0

Bucs QB Jameis Winston takes the field before Sunday's game at Arizona. He left the game in the second quarter with a shoulder injury.

LOREN ELLIOTT | TIMES

Bucs QB Jameis Winston takes the field before Sunday's game at Arizona. He left the game in the second quarter with a shoulder injury.

Adding injury to insult, the Bucs have lost quarterback Jameis Winston to a shoulder injury -- he's on the sidelines in the second quarter and doubtful to return, with backup Ryan Fitzpatrick taking over as the Bucs trail Arizona 24-0.

Winston went down awkwardly on his shoulder on the opening drive, attempting a third-down throw as he was being hit. He continued to play for two more series, and was 5-for-10 for 61 yards when Fitzpatrick took over.

Arizona dominated the Bucs defense early, getting touchdown drives of 75, 86 and 95 yards on their first three possessions. Carson Palmer opened the game 13-for-13 for 211 yards and two touchdowns, and running back Adrian Peterson has 85 yards and a touchdown on his 11 carries.

No immediate word was given on the severity of Winston's injury. We'll update as we gather more details.

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Lavonte David, T.J. Ward return as Bucs face Cardinals

Bucs safety T.J. Ward, shown earlier this season against the Bears, will return healthy against Arizona today after missing the last game with a hip injury.

WILL VRAGOVIC | TIMES

Bucs safety T.J. Ward, shown earlier this season against the Bears, will return healthy against Arizona today after missing the last game with a hip injury.

As expected, the Bucs are getting linebacker Lavonte David and safety T.J. Ward back from injuries as they play a key game against the Cardinals today.

David, who had missed two games with an ankle injury, and Ward, who missed the Patriots game with a hip injury, are both active against Arizona. The Bucs are still without four players sidelined with injuries: LB Kwon Alexander (hamstring), S Keith Tandy (hip), DE Ryan Russell (shoulder) and DB Josh Robinson (concussion). The other inactives are OT Leonard Wester and OC Joe Hawley, who have been inactive in all five games, and TE Antony Auclair, who has been inactive in four of five.

The Bucs will have rookie Justin Evans starting at safety in Tandy's place, though the team didn't announce whether Ward or Chris Conte would start at the other safety spot. The Bucs will count on rookie LB Kendell Beckwith to again step in for Alexander at middle linebacker for a fourth straight game.

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Koetter: Lavonte David, T.J. Ward to play vs. Cardinals

Bucs linebacker Lavonte David, shown in preseason, will return to the field Sunday against Arizona after missing two games with a sprained ankle.

MONICA HERNDON | TIMES

Bucs linebacker Lavonte David, shown in preseason, will return to the field Sunday against Arizona after missing two games with a sprained ankle.

Linebacker Lavonte David and safety T.J. Ward, both listed as questionable for Sunday with lingering injuries, will both play for the Bucs against Arizona, coach Dirk Koetter told SiriusXM NFL Radio on Saturday.

"We're getting healthier ... we're going to get Lavonte David back this week, we're going to get T.J. Ward back this week," Koetter said on his weekly radio appearance. "Unfortunately Kwon Alexander is not quite ready. He's getting real close though. Keith Tandy, one of our safeties, not quite ready but he's getting real close. Josh Robinson, our special-teams ace, is in the concussion protocol and that has to run its course."

Koetter also said center Ali Marpet (illness) and defensive end Robert Ayers (back), both listed as questionable, will also play this week. David has missed two games with an ankle injury, and Ward has missed one with a hip injury. Alexander, Tandy, Robinson and defensive end Ryan Russell (shoulder) were ruled out Friday.

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Alexander, Tandy among four Bucs ruled out for Sunday

Bucs linebacker Kwon Alexander, shown this summer, will miss a fourth straight game with a hamstring injury he suffered in the season-opening win against the Bears.

LOREN ELLIOTT | TIMES

Bucs linebacker Kwon Alexander, shown this summer, will miss a fourth straight game with a hamstring injury he suffered in the season-opening win against the Bears.

A return to full strength for the Bucs defense will have to wait at least another week, as the team has ruled out LB Kwon Alexander (hamstring) and S Keith Tandy (hip) for Sunday's game at Arizona.

The Bucs could get back two other key defensive starters, as LB Lavonte David (ankle) and S T.J. Ward (hip) are listed as questionable, but both remained at limited participation in Friday's practice. Two other Bucs players have been ruled out in special-teams captain Josh Robinson (concussion) and DE Ryan Russell (shoulder). There was encouraging progress for C Ali Marpet (illness) and DE Robert Ayers (back), who were both upgraded to full participation but are listed as questionable for Sunday.

The Bucs have gotten strong play from rookie Kendell Beckwith as an every-down linebacker while Alexander has been out since the season opener, and rookie Justin Evans has stepped up in the absence of Ward and Tandy as well.

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Bucs confident DE Will Clarke can step up if needed

Bucs defensive end Will Clarke celebrates after recovering a Tom Brady fumble in Tampa Bay's game against New England. He could step into a large role due to injuries this week at Arizona.

LOREN ELLIOTT | TIMES

Bucs defensive end Will Clarke celebrates after recovering a Tom Brady fumble in Tampa Bay's game against New England. He could step into a large role due to injuries this week at Arizona.

Injuries may have the Bucs limited to four defensive ends Sunday at Arizona, among them Will Clarke, who was claimed off waivers from the Bengals just before the season and had a key recovery of a Tom Brady fumble against the Patriots.

"I think it's a good pickup. We like the guy," coach Dirk Koetter said Friday. "He's playing on special teams. He's learning our system. He's definitely got some talent. I think he had four sacks last year. His role is going to go up. If Ryan Russell is out, his role is going to go up."

Russell injured his shoulder against the Patriots and hasn't practiced since, leaving Clarke as the fourth end behind Will Gholston, Robert Ayers and Noah Spence. The Bucs have three defensive linemen on the practice squad in tackle Channing Ward and newcomers Pat O'Connor and Larry Webster, who both joined the team this week, but Koetter said he's confident in going with four ends if he needs to on Sunday.

"You've got do to what you've got to do," Koetter said. "We're going to get the best 46 guys we can to help us do our jobs in Arizona. When your injuries mount up, you only have so many options." …

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Cannon Fodder podcast: Bucs-Cardinals preview

Noah Spence sacks Carson Palmer during last season's Bucs-Cardinals game in Glendale, Ariz.

Getty Images

Noah Spence sacks Carson Palmer during last season's Bucs-Cardinals game in Glendale, Ariz.

Greg Auman has a final preview of the Bucs' game at Arizona on Sunday in his latest Cannon Fodder podcast.

He talks about how old running backs fare when they finish their career in Arizona, how the Bucs fare against over-35 quarterbacks and how turnover margin is so directly linked to the Bucs' success under Dirk Koetter. Listen below:

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Humphries still making plays for Bucs, especially in 4th quarter

Bucs receiver Adam Humphries, shown against the Vikings, is among the NFL's top 10 receivers in fourth-quarter receiving yards (125) and catches (nine).

LOREN ELLIOTT | TIMES

Bucs receiver Adam Humphries, shown against the Vikings, is among the NFL's top 10 receivers in fourth-quarter receiving yards (125) and catches (nine).

Much of receiver Adam Humphries' emergence last season came as the Bucs were enduring multiple injuries at his position, and Humphries made the most of his extended playing time, catching 55 passes for 622 yards and two touchdowns.

The Bucs were busy in the offseason, adding Pro Bowl receiver DeSean Jackson and drafting tight end O.J. Howard and receiver Chris Godwin to add talented options to the Bucs' passing game, but Humphries has remained a key part of Jameis Winston's arsenal. Humphries has 17 catches for 207 yards, gaining more than he did last year through four games.

"The big thing for me is just being patient," said Humphries, who made the Bucs' roster in 2015 as an undrafted rookie out of Clemson, initially only going to rookie minicamp as a tryout player. "I know my role in this offense. I know we've got two of the best receivers to do it outside of me and two incredible tight ends. The ball can only go to one person at a time, so going into halftime with no catches, I'm not worried. I know Jameis is going to find everybody at some point. The ball will come to you at some point, and with the offense we run, everyone's got a chance on every play." …

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Bucs' O.J. Howard happy to return to Cards' stadium

Bucs rookie tight end O.J. Howard celebrates his 58-yard touchdown in a home win against the Giants.

WILL VRAGOVIC | TIMES

Bucs rookie tight end O.J. Howard celebrates his 58-yard touchdown in a home win against the Giants.

The Bucs may have a rough recent history at Arizona's University of Phoenix Stadium, having lost 40-7 there last year, but one Tampa Bay player has great memories of playing on that field.

Rookie tight end O.J. Howard had a breakout game in the national championship game against Clemson in January 2016, catching five passes for 208 yards and a pair of long touchdowns -- 53 and 51 yards -- in the Crimson Tide's 45-40 win over Clemson.

"It was incredible -- loud, nice field, grass was perfect," Howard said of his memories of playing there. "Just an amazing atmosphere in that stadium. Coming into it, we knew a lot of the defenses they were going to run, and Coach (Lane) Kiffin just did a great job of setting up plays for the tight ends to be successful. They came out in those defenses, we called those plays and I executed."

Howard has had a quiet first month in the NFL, with four catches for 92 yards in his first four games, most notably a 58-yard touchdown in a home win against the Giants. He said the experience he's gained has helped him immensely as he adjusts to the NFL game. …

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David, Alexander, Ward, Tandy all back practicing for Bucs

Bucs linebacker Lavonte David, shown celebrating a fumble recovery against the Bears, was back at practice for the first time since missing two games with a sprained ankle. Linebacker Kwon Alexander and safeties T.J. Ward and Keith Tandy were back at practice as well.

LOREN ELLIOTT | TIMES

Bucs linebacker Lavonte David, shown celebrating a fumble recovery against the Bears, was back at practice for the first time since missing two games with a sprained ankle. Linebacker Kwon Alexander and safeties T.J. Ward and Keith Tandy were back at practice as well.

The Bucs' first full practice since Thursday's loss to the Patriots brought big news on the injury front: linebackers Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander and safeties T.J. Ward and Keith Tandy were all back and practicing Wednesday afternoon, a promising first step toward returning to game action.

Alexander has missed three games with a hamstring injury, and David has missed the last two with a sprained ankle, with both safeties missing the Patriots game with hip injuries. That doesn't mean they'll all be able to play Sunday at Arizona, but head coach Dirk Koetter had hinted that the Bucs would get back key players on defense.

Bucs special-teams captain Josh Robinson, who had been in concussion protocol as recently as Wednesday morning, was also practicing in the afternoon, though that doesn't always indicate a player is completely out of protocol and cleared to play. Bucs defensive end Ryan Russell, who injured his shoulder against the Patriots, was not seen at practice.

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