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Bucs DE Noah Spence has again put on weight trying to live up to potential

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

In what will clearly be a big season for former second round pick defensive end Noah Spence of the Buccaneers, he’s decided, again, to bulk up.

Spence met with the Tampa Bay media after the Buccaneers latest OTA workout on Thursday afternoon. And, he says he has put on 20 pounds of mostly muscle since a shoulder injury derailed his 2017 season in October of last year.

It has been a constant concern about whether Spence was big enough to play defensive end or Edge Rush on a regular basis, or whether he needed to be smaller and perhaps drop some into coverage, because he simply doesn’t have the body frame to play at a larger weight.

Spence elaborated on that after a hot Tampa Bay Thursday,

“Just eating habits. Working out a lot more. I eat like 10 meals a day, now. Seven different shakes throughout the day. Last year I got down to like 228 (lbs) in camp. I’m now 257. Feeling a lot better. Lot stronger.”

The Buccaneers and GM Jason Licht had high hopes for Spence drafting him in the second round in 2016, but he has not lived up to that belief as of yet. There was a rookie season with 5 and 1/2 sacks but also a shoulder injury in Tampa Bay’s third game of 2016, that he played with the entire year.

Spence re-injured that right shoulder in the Bucs loss last October at Buffalo and never played again- having surgery and going on IR.

This time a year ago, he was also mentored in training camp by former Bucs defensive end great Simeon Rice. Rice believes that Spence has the ability to be an impact defensive end in this league, and worked with him on a couple of his most successful pass rush moves.

Spence also has veterans Vinny Curry, signed from Philly, and Jason Pierre-Paul acquired from the Giants, to help mentor him this upcoming training camp, too.

Nevertheless, weight increase or not, health of the shoulder or not, Spence has to start delivering, if he still wants to be part of the Buccaneer future plans.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs QB Winston on practice with Titans- “We’re out here competing”

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Aug 9, 2018; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) calls a play at the line against the Miami Dolphins during the first half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Day one of workouts with the Buccaneers and the Titans concluded on Wednesday and by all accounts, the Buccaneers offense was solid.

And for quarterback Jameis Winston it’s especially important to get good work in for a lot of reasons.

As you probably know by now, Winston is suspended for the first three games of the upcoming season for violation of the NFL personal conduct policy. However there’s also extra motivation while his team is practicing against Marcus Mariota’s team.

As we wrote earlier on Wednesday those two will be forever linked for a lot of different reasons from college and now the NFL.

And Winston did not shy away from questions about comparisons to Mariota and other subjects when he met with the media Wednesday afternoon:

On working against the Titans defensive backs for the first workout,

“First of all, I’ve just got to thank the Titans for letting us come out here and compete against them. I think it’s so much fun playing against different guys every day. When you’ve got guys like Mike (Evans) and DeSean (Jackson) paired against Malcolm Butler and the 25 (Adoree’ Jackson), oh my gosh, he’s incredible. So, it’s just good to get out here and compete.”

Here was an example of Winston hitting WR Chris Godwin in one of one on one drills:

Winston then talked about the value of getting to practice with “live reps,” against another defense:

“Yeah, it’s the closest feeling to a game that you get. We play against our guys every single day and sometimes they can predict some things that we’re throwing at them and sometimes make it unfair, especially on the defensive side when they’ve seen the same guys every single day. When you play against new guys, we get as much work done as they get of playing against us, too.”

And most of Winston talked about improving all the time, even with looming time off:

“I’m getting better every single day….Again, I’m just out here to compete. When you are out here competing, you don’t think about stuff (not being available for first three games) like that.”

It is expected that Winston will get the chance to compete some in the first half of the game on Saturday night. However, his work with the likes of Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson and Chris Godwin in these practices with Tennessee is also very valuable, as well.

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Bucs practicing with Titans- Winston/Mariota debate continues

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Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

As the Buccaneers and the Titans hit the practice field together on Wednesday, the ongoing highly-publicized debate rekindles about who was the better choice three and a half years ago to lead a franchise?

The Bucs held the number one overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft and had a very intriguing and also controversial decision to make. Should they take the regional favorite and former Heisman trophy-winning and National Champion quarterback, Jameis Winston, from Florida State?

Or should they take the Heisman Trophy winning star quarterback from the University of Oregon in Marcus Mariota?

As you know by now, the Bucs took the risk, despite Jameis Winston’s background problems, including a sexual assault allegation at FSU, and drafted him anyway with that first pick.

Tennessee wasted no time and took Mariota to lead their franchise with the second overall pick.

And as the rotation of the NFL schedule would have it, and the NFL wasting no time to seize the opportunity, the Buccaneers hosted the Titans in week one of the 2015 season.

Weeks and weeks of built up to that opening game, which lead to Mariota playing brilliantly throwing four touchdown passes and having a near perfect quarterback rating. Meanwhile, Winston’s first NFL regular-season pass was intercepted and run back for a touchdown.

Winston would go on to have a shaky day with another “pick six,”  and, the Titans blew out the Buccaneers 42-14.

From then on, there has been” back and forth” scrutiny over which player is better for their franchise, and in the Bucs case, how might things have been different, if they had simply taken Mariota?

Both players would go on to have their teams on the verge of the playoffs at the end of the 2016 season. But, despite Winston having a good season, the Bucs could not capitalize on being 8-5 and lost two critical games at the end of the year at Dallas and at New Orleans virtually eliminating them from the playoffs.

Meanwhile, Mariota also had Tennessee in position, but was injured in week 16 suffering a broken leg in a defeat at the Jaguars, which basically eliminated the Titans from playoff contention.

Fast forward to the 2017 season, where Winston suffered a shoulder injury that cost him parts or all of five games. Tampa Bay floundered and were never relevant in 2017, finishing 5-11. Meanwhile, Mariota had a strong season and helped by Tennessee strong run game with Derrick Henry and a good defense, the Titans earned a wild-card spot.

Mariota then led a second-half comeback in the AFC Wildcard win at Kansas City. Thus, cementing his legacy for now, in Nashville.

Meanwhile, as has been heavily reported, allegations surfaced in November that Winston had inappropriately touched an Arizona female Uber driver in March of 2016. The NFL essentially believed the accuser and suspended Winston for the first three games of this upcoming season.

This further casts doubt as to Winston’s future in Tampa Bay.

So while it is just training camp, and these are just practices before a preseason game upcoming on Saturday night.

Nevertheless, get ready for much more debate and talk about which quarterback was the better choice then, which quarterback is the better bet now, and how big of a mistake did the Bucs truly make three years ago?

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Former Bucs coach Dungy excited to join “Ring of Honor”

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Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

It was a day to reminisce for the Bucs and their fans, as the coach, who turned the franchise fortunes around in the 1990’s, returned to the building Tuesday to talk about his upcoming induction into the team’s “Ring of Honor.

Tony Dungy, who still makes his home in Tampa, was back at One Buc Place.

The Buccaneers had previously announced this spring that Dungy would become the 12th inductee, since they began honoring their great players, coaches, etc. in 2009.

And Dungy stood at the podium and smiled ear to ear reminiscing about when he took over.

“It’s awesome to be here. A special day for me. Got a chance to come here (Bucs facility) this morning, speak to the team…Got a chance to watch practice and just think about what has happened in the last 22 years.

On what he remembers, Dungy went back to the beginning with the Bucs,

“I remember just coming here and talking to Mr. Glazer (late owner Malcolm) and saying ‘we want to get our team connected back to the city. We want to get people excited about the Buccaneers, again. We want to our guys to be part of the community and doing things right. And, by the way, we want to win'”

And the importance of being grateful to everyone that helped him,

“It’s an awesome, awesome tribute and honor for me and my family. I am proud of that and I am grateful. I thank God that I got a chance to come here. And I am thankful for the people that I got a chance to come in contact with. We had some tremendous players. Some of them are here today. And I obviously would not be here without those guys.”

Dungy took over the reins as the Bucs coach in 1996, when they had already achieved a dubious modern NFL record with 13 consecutive losing seasons. They were 6-10 his first year, but with the help of now, Hall of Famers themselves, Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks, plus Mike Alstott, Hardy Nickerson, John Lynch, Paul Gruber, etc., the Bucs became a playoff team a year later.

And eventually, they went to the playoffs four total times in his six seasons, including the 1999 narrow NFC Championship Game loss to the eventual Superbowl Champion St. Louis Rams.

Dungy, was fired by the Glazers after not being successful enough (ironically) after the 2001 playoffs, where they lost for the second consecutive year to the Philadelphia Eagles.

He went to the Colts and QB Peyton Manning the following season and eventually, they won the Superbowl in 2006. After retiring from coaching in 2008, Dungy has been the lead analyst on NBC’s Football Night in America pregame and halftime coverage.

He will  join two former coaches John McKay and Jon Gruden, in the “Ring of Honor” , when the Bucs play against the team he began his playing career for, the Steelers, on Monday Night Football September 24th.

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