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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs RB Ronald Jones re-emerging?

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Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
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The Buccaneers had high hopes in 2018 for second round draft pick, Ronald Jones. However, much like their 5-11 season a year ago, it never really materialized.

Now, with Dirk Koetter and his coaching staff fired and new head coach Bruce Arians and his staff in place, it appears that Jones is going to be given every opportunity to re-emerge, as the big-time play making running back the Tampa Bay GM Jason Licht drafted out of USC.

Arians was on Tampa Bay sports radio station 95.3 WDAE Tuesday morning prior to the Bucs second day of mandatory minicamp workouts. And, he made it clear that Jones is improving in this second offseason:

“Ro-jo (Jones) has been really, really solid this entire camp…I can’t wait to see him with the pads on (July),” Arians told the station. When asked about why Jones didn’t play more in 2018, Arians quickly deadpanned, “I don’t know what happened. I wasn’t here.”

Clearly, Arians wants competition in the backfield, as the Bucs running game has struggled for each of the past three seasons. Tampa Bay essentially turning to undrafted free agent, Peyton Barber as the main ball carrier last year. The design had been to have Jones be the complementary back, who is much more explosive for long runs and big plays than Barber is.

However, Jones had issues, as a lot of rookies do, not only picking up the Buccaneers playbook, but improving with things like pass blocking and receiving to enable him to be on the field all the time.

As Jones struggled to get anything done in the preseason, he obviously got in Koetter and offensive coordinator Todd Monken’s dog house. To the point, they left the second round pick as a healthy inactive at the beginning of the year for the first three games, apparently trying to send a message to him about work ethic and level of play.

Later in the first half of the season Jones eventually worked his way back to the active roster but ended up injuring his hamstring in late Octover, which sidelined him for five more games. By the time he returned to health, the Buccaneers season was basically in the tank.

Still, even then, Koetter and Monken didn’t utilize Jones with a single carry despite him being active for final three weeks of the season. And that, despite the Buccaneers being out of any playoff hopes.

Now, Jones has a fresh start and has spent an off season under the tutelage of new offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich and running backs coach Harold Goodwin. And, at least for now it seems, he’s headed towards getting a legitimate opportunity to be the impact contributor moving forward that everyone wants him to be.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Report- Bucs aren’t trading tight end OJ Howard

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Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

There’s no doubt the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have begun to struggle with three losses in their last four games while on a bye week. However, a report Thursday says they’re not looking to sell off one of their premium young players before the trade deadline.

Despite inquiries from other teams, former first-round pick tight end O.J. Howard apparently will not be on the move.

That’s according to ESPN Buccaneers reporter, Jenna Laine, who went on Tampa Bay radio Thursday and said as much, and then repeated it on social media:

There have been numerous reports of teams inquiring about the third-year tight end from Alabama whose had a disappointing 2019 so far. Howard, known for his size and agility in the passing game, has only 13 catches for 176 yards and no TDs in the first six Tampa Bay games.

And in the last 2 weeks, Howard had only one catch in New Orleans and just two catches in London in the loss to the Panthers. In both games, he did not catch a pass in the second half.

Now, In fairness, Tampa Bay does have a lot of pass-catching weapons starting with receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin and Howard’s fellow tight end Cameron Brate. Brate is one of the personal favorite targets of quarterback Jameis Winston, especially on third down and in the redzone, where he caught a TD last week.

Howard, who was taken 19th overall in the 2017 draft, is in the third year of his deal that is paying him $1.5 million this season. He is slated to make $2 million next year and there is a fifth year option on his rookie deal, as well.

And while that makes him attractive to another team from a salary standpoint, it’s the same for the Bucs, their GM Jason Licht (who drafted Howard) and their long-term plans for the roster and the cap.

Howard has also finished his first two seasons on IR with ankle injuries near the end of them, as well.

The Bucs will come off the bye and play the Titans in Nashville, and a loss would drop them to 2-5 and only fuel speculation more that they might look to trade off a player or two before the end of the month.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs repeated blunders lead to London defeat

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Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports

Despite traveling over 4000 miles to London, it was a day to forget for the Bucs in their rematch with the Panthers on Sunday. Tampa Bay and QB Jameis Winston had enough misuses for a month of football, including 7 turnovers, as they dropped a 37 – 26 defeat at the hands of Carolina.

Winston was the biggest culprit, as he threw five interceptions (a career high) and also lost a number fumble in what was one of his worst performances of his five year career. And, even though his final stat line showed a 400 yards passing, Winston, with shaky from the very beginning. He threw an interception on the first play of the game to Panthers DB James Bradberry. This while trying to hit WR Mike Evans (catchless last week) over the middle.

Carolina only got a field goal though to make the game 3-0. And, after two Bucs punts on the next two possessions, Carolina marched 99 yards and ended up with in a short Christian Mccaffery one yard TD and a 10 – 0 lead.

One of the few breaks the Bucs got at Tottenham Hotspurs Stadium Sunday came when Carolina punt returner Ray Ray McCloud fumbled early in the second and Tampa Bay recovered. A short time later, Ronald Jones got the Buccaneers on the board with a five yard score to close the Carolina lead to 10-7.

Little did the Bucs, Winston and coach Bruce Arians know that it would be the closest they would get the rest of the day.

Later in the second, Winston had his arm hit by the Panthers Bruce Irvin and his pass was picked, again. And, it set up McCaffery’s second TD, a 25 yard catch and run to make it 17-7 Carolina in the half.

Then, after halftime,  the Bucs punted on their first possession and then, after a Panthers field goal made it 20-7, Winston once again threw a bad pass over the middle for his third interception of the game. This one to Pro Bowl LB Luke Kuechley, who ran it down to the Bucs 8 yard line. Next, WR Curtis Samuel scored on a handoff and at 27-7, the issue was basically decided.

Yes, the Bucs continued to scrap and Winston actually got them in the endzone  twice in the fourth quarter and finished with 400 yards passing, on the number. However, most of that was against softer coverage while Carolina led big in the second half.

Besides the five INTS, Winston also fumbled away another red zone scoring opportunity after he was hit and sacked. Then, a fourth quarter Bobo Wilson muffed punt led to Panthers field goal and the game back to an easy double digit lead. Again, -6 in the turnover margin was as horrific as it gets for Tampa Bay.

The Panthers are now rolling, including second year QB Kyle Allen getting his fourth straight win in relief of the injured Cam Newton. Plus, Carolina got their revenge from a loss a month ago in Charlotte by winning in their first ever trip to the U.K.

However, this day was more about a Bucs offense, and Winston specifically, that both looked so good in a 55-40 win two weeks ago in L.A. doing the exact opposite for most of this Sunday in a bad defeat.

Tampa Bay now stands 2-4 headed to their bye and knows that the turnovers must stop, or the year will get more sour and very quickly.

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