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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Former Bucs legend John Lynch improving 49ers drastically

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Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

It was just over a year ago at this time that the San Francisco 49ers made a bold and out of the blue hire, when they plucked former Buccaneers and Broncos Pro Bowl safety John Lynch out of the broadcast booth and made him their general manager.

It clearly was a risk, as Lynch had no previous experience working in an NFL front office, much less handling a draft, free agency, swinging trades, etc.

Well, now about 13 months into the process, it is obvious at the man who patrolled the back end of Tony Dungy and Jon Gruden’s defenses and won a Super Bowl in Tampa Bay, clearly knows what he’s doing. And has already improved the 49er roster dramatically.

Starting with last April in the draft, Lynch swung a trade with the Chicago Bears,who were looking to jump up to the second overall pick and grab quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. Then, he showed he had a plan to build the 49ers with defense. They took defensive lineman Solomon Thomas in the top five, and he eventually got linebacker Reuben Foster, at the end of the first round.

The biggest challenge was: who was going to be quarterback long-term in San Francisco for new head coach Kyle Shanahan? While the Niners could not get their hands on Kirk Cousins of the Redskins last off season or during the year, (neither can anyone else), Lynch eventually solved that.

In making the trade just before the deadline for New England’s QB Jimmy Garoppolo proved again, that he has aptitude and the ability to get things. Garoppolo immediately came in for the 49ers and led them to wins their final five games of 2017. Garappolo is now locked up long term and an asset to help attract other free agents.

Now fast forward to this offseason and pending free agency.

The 49ers apparently we’re on the verge of acquiring former Buck defensive back, as well as Patriots and Broncos pro bowler and Super Bowl champion, Aqib Talib on Thursday. But apparently, Talib would not agree to a contract extension with San Francisco and the Rams ended up completing the deal with the Broncos.

Lynch shook that off, immediately, and when Richard Sherman became available by being released by the rival Seahawks Friday, it took San Francisco less than 24 hours to get the deal done. Reports have surfaced that on Saturday afternoon, Lynch a former Stanford defensive back met face-to-face with fellow Cardinal DB Sherman for 5 hours. And as Sherman negotiated for himself, man-to-man with Lynch, they got it done.

And the creative deal that includes incentives and potentially a chunk of guaranteed money, was satisfactory to both sides. So, Sherman never left the building Saturday to take other trips/visits. And, the message continues to be sent to the NFC West, and rest of the league: we are not a “Jim Tomsula/Chip Kelly” joke any longer.

Have the 49ers won the division, much less a playoff game? No.

Do they still have to get other pieces for their roster? Of course.

However no one is laughing at John Lynch being hired without any experience anymore.

The 49ers fans are pumped up for the upcoming season already, and they should be.

John Lynch and his staff have made them dramatically better before their second draft or the second training camp under his watch season has even started.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Final injury updates for Bucs and Jaguars Sunday games

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

As the Buccaneers get set to head to New York to play the Giants and the Jaguars are preparing to host the Steelers Sunday, it’s time to take a look at the injuries in those two games. (Reminder the Dolphins have their bye week for this weekend.)

Here’s a look at the latest:

For the Bucs, there Friday injury report has defensive names littered all over it and the news is not good for some of them.

After we were told by a source that Lavonte David was going to try to play Sunday, he apparently was overruled by the training staff and head coach Dirk Koetter, etc, and the Pro Bowl linebacker will be inactive with his sprained knee. Likewise, Vinny Curry will miss another game at defensive end, his fourth in the last five with a sprained ankle.

It’s the same situation with second year safety Justin Evans, who will miss the game with an injured toe suffered in the game with Washington last week. Defensive end Carl Nassib, who’s been a pleasant find off the waiver wire at the beginning of the season,  is questionable with a left elbow injury suffered agains the Redskins, although he was able to practice on Friday.

The Bucs also list their receiver Chris Godwin as questionable with an ankle injury, and another important injury is starting center Ryan Jensen, who’s questionable with a hamstring injury. If Jensen is unable to play Sunday, then Ali Marpet, starting at left guard this year, but who played center a lot of 2017, would likely take his place.

The Buccaneers opponents, the Giants, had four players on their injury list this week, but all of them are now slated to play in the game on Sunday.

For the Jaguars match-up, they have two significant injuries to update, starting linebacker Telvin Smith was able to practice this week with his shoulder injury and is listed as questionable, but expected to play against Pittsburgh. There is concern for defensive tackle Marcell Dareus with a triceps injury and he is also listed as questionable. Dareus will likely be a game time decision.

Defensive back A.J. Bouye has been bothered by a calf injury, but he is also expected to play after being able to practice Thursday and Friday and listed as questionable. Coach Doug Marrone also announced that tackle Erik Flowers, who left last week’s game with tendonitis in his knee will start on the makeshift Jaguars line.

As we wrote earlier in the week, Jacksonville placed Center Brandon Linder on injured reserve with a knee injury suffered in last week’s lost Indianapolis.

The Steelers have no significant injuries, despite Ben Roethlisberger and James Conner both being on the injured list,. They will both be playing on Sunday. Connor was a much bigger concern having been in concussion protocol earlier after suffering one in the win last Thursday night over Carolina.

However, he cleared the protocol and was able to fully practice this week.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs DE Jason Pierre-Paul ready to go get Eli Manning Sunday

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It’s one of those juicy subplots that we see all the time now in professional sports. A player gets to go against his old team and show them that maybe they made a mistake and letting him go. In this case on Sunday, Bucs defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul will battle against his old team, the New York Giants. And that means, against a lot of former teammates.

One in specific, quarterback Eli Manning, maybe less than thrilled.

JPP has been one of the most dominant edge rushers in the NFL over the last decade, nevertheless, the Giants elected to trade into the Buccaneers back in March.

So when the organization that you won the Superbowl with in 2011 has decided to move on without you, there’s naturally going to be some questions from the media about you playing against them for the first time. And, you going against their borderline Hall of Fame signal-caller, Manning.

Such was the case Wednesday in the Buccaneers locker room prior to practice:

Pierre-Paul has already energized the Bucs pass rush and has eight sacks in the first nine games. This includes a streak of five consecutive games with a sack earlier this season. That is the first time since Simeon rice in 2002 that a Buccaneer had five straight games with a sack in a single season.

And coming into Sunday at The Meadowlands he has 66 1/2 of them in his career and would love nothing better than to take down the leader of the G-Men.

And while the Giants did look better on offense in their Monday night comeback win over the 49ers, it has clearly been a struggle for them to pass protect, specifically, throughout the early part of this season.

Pierre-Paul has to have been salivating watching their offensive line whiff and get run over in game after game.

Further, Buccaneer defenders like pro bowlers Gerald McCoy and Lavonte David, plus players like Will gholston Brent Grimes and young safety Justin Evans went against Manning in a Tampa Bay’s win last September against the Giants.

A game that the Buccaneers squeaked out 25-23. A game where is Eli Manning threw it 49 times and wasn’t sacked once by the Buccaneers front seven. That’s a pass rush that was last in the NFL in sacks a year ago.

However, that was 2017. And, circling back to Pierre-Paul, he hopes to change that starting Sunday.

And, while it will be weird for him to dress in the visiting dressing room at MetLife Stadium and stand on the visiting near sidelines, he’s ready to put all of that aside, try to help the Bucs climb off the canvas and get a win in the Big Apple.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

What is status of Bucs LB LaVonte David’s injured knee?

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a rough enough last seven games for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, now comes word that another prominent defender may miss this week’s match-up with the Giants. A report Tuesday afternoon said that linebacker Lavonte David has been diagnosed with a knee sprain and his status is in doubt. That may not be the case, though. More on that in a moment.

First, Jenna Laine, the ESPN reporter for the Bucs, reported Tuesday afternoon about David’s injury from Sunday:

David was injured in the third quarter of Sunday’s lost to the Redskins, while making a tackle. He was examined underneath the “mysterious blue tent” and was initially diagnosed as being questionable to return to the game. He did return and played in the fourth quarter of the 16-3 loss to Washington.

And, a source with knowledge of David situation told F.F.I. on Monday that David had been examined, and it was not believed to be a serious injury. Further, the source told us that David would wear a knee brace this week in practice and be able to play in the game on Sunday.

The seven year veteran and two-time Pro Bowler is one of the key players on the Buccaneers defense and currently has 71 tackles with nine of them for losses. And he’s being counted on more heavily after Pro Bowl middle linebacker Kwon Alexander tore his ACL in an October game with Cleveland and will miss the rest of the season.

The Bucs have also seen starters in the defensive backfield Vernon Hargreaves and Chris Conte already placed on injured reserve back in September. Also Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy missed two games with a calf strain and has not looked a hundred percent in the last two games with Carolina and Washington since coming back from the injury.

If David is unable to play or is limited on Sunday, the Bucs will count more heavily on reserve linebacker Devante Bond. Bond has seen more playing time after Alexander’s injury and will be asked to increase his responsibilities in the middle of the Buccaneers defense, as well.

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