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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Koetter – QB Winston will take all 1st-team practice reps Friday

Roy Cummings

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Photo by Icon Sportswire

  TAMPA – Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston was throwing the football at practice again on Thursday. He didn’t throw it for very long or throw it very far but that will change on Friday.

After giving his sore right shoulder a very brief test run on Thursday, throwing just one short pass across the line of scrimmage, Winston is expected to make all the throws in practice on Friday.

“We made a decision to hold him for another day, but I full expect that Jameis will take all the snaps tomorrow, all the snaps with the ones,’’ Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said. “You can draw your own conclusions.’’

One conclusion that can be drawn from that is that Winston is indeed ready to play and perhaps start just five days after he suffered a sprain of the AC joint in his right throwing shoulder last Sunday.

Koetter wasn’t ready to make that announcement just yet and it’s still quite possible that the Bucs will wait until game time on Sunday to determine Winston’s status.

However, should Winston be able to make all the throws as Koetter suggests he will in practice on Friday that would be a strong indication he will not miss a game as a result of the injury.

Winston in the wake of last week’s game, a 38-33 loss to the Cardinals in which he was all but pulled himself from the lineup after three series, that his intention was to not miss a start. Now it seems he could make good on that vow.

“I’m ready,’’  said Winston, whose throwing session on Thursday included a few short throws of the ball back to an assistant coach and a longer throw of about 30 yards to a ball boy. “When it’s time, when they let me go, I’m ready.’’

Pain tolerance, Winston said, is still the biggest issue. There may also be some concern about Winston doing greater long-term damage to the shoulder by playing but Koetter suggested that fear has already been eliminated.

“The doctors make that call, not me,’’ he said. “And if there was any further risk of injury other than the normal playing football then Jameis would have no chance to play. So I guess you can deduce by that that that’s not the case.’’

Winston said the call on whether he plays or not will be a “joint, team’’ decision, meaning that he will have some say in the matter. It will likely fall, though, Koetter and general manager Jason Licht to make the call, who will likely lean on the advice of the team’s trainers.

One thing we know for sure, this is not the first time Winston has tried to play with an AC joint sprain. Winston said on Wednesday that he’s played through “a couple of AC joint sprains’’ during his career and that he’s “used to the pain.’’

Winston is not used to spending a week more or less on the sideline and not throwing the ball before he plays a game, but he said he’s preparing just as he always does from a mental standpoint and that he is not concerned about going into a game off limited throwing reps.

“This game is such a mental (game),’’ he said. “As long as we get mental reps, I mean, I’ve been throwing a football practically my whole life so I know I can throw. I just think it’s about recovery being consistent in my reads and progressions. And when Sunday comes, we’ll know.’’.

Roy Cummings is a native of Chicago, Illinois who grew up in the suburb of Lombard. He and his family later moved to Lakeland, Florida, where Roy attended high school at Kathleen High. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communications in 1983 and immediately went to work for the Tampa Tribune. After five years working in a Polk County bureau covering everything from high school sports to college football to the Orlando Magic of the NBA, Roy moved back to Tampa and became the Tribune's first beat writer for the Tampa Bay Lightning, covering the team from its inception through the first eight years on the ice. He was then moved to the Buccaneers beat, where he stayed until the paper was folded in May, 2016. A two-time Florida Sports Writer of the Year, Roy has extensive experience covering all Tampa professional sports teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Steelers hung on as Fitzpatrick rally came up short

Florida Football Insiders

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Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

That old “FitzMagic” still has the NFL in it spell.

That old FitzMagic that Ryan Fitzpatrick weaves so well.

He was at it again on Monday. Just when it seemed as if that old FitzMagic had run its course, Fitzpatrick nearly pulled a victory out of the jaws of defeat, rallying the Bucs to within a field goal of their third triumph in as many weeks.

It didn’t happen. The Bucs wound up losing Monday, 30-27, in part because Fitzpatrick struggled through most of the first half, throwing three picks during that span, including one that was returned for a touchdown. But, look at the overall body of work.

For the third time in as many weeks, Fitzpatrick threw for more than 400 yards (411 to be exact). And that’s an all time NFL record for three consecutive games.

He fell just short of throwing four touchdown passes for a third straight week, but the three he did throw for were one of the big reasons the Bucs remained alive on this game until the very end.

Once again, and even on a night when he wasn’t at his best, Ryan Fitzpatrick was the Bucs best player. And therein lies the problem with the Bucs. Right now, Tampa Bay is a one-dimensional football team and that dimension is Fitzpatrick.

Sure, he’s getting plenty of help from his receiving corps, which is easily the best in the league. But he’s getting little or no help from anyone else on this team.

The Bucs ran for 63 yards on Monday. Their defense took the ball away just once. While surrendering 416 total yards. Their kicker didn’t miss a field goal or a PAT but that was a first for this year.

That the Bucs will go into Chicago next week tied with two other teams for first place in the NFC South thanks to Ryan Fitzpatrick. If they hope to stay there, they’re going to need contributions from other sources. And fast.

Ryan Fitzpatrick has carried this team this far. There’s nothing to suggest he can’t carry them a but farther. But for the Bucs to go as far as they believe they’re capable of, they’re going to need someone or something else to shoulder some of the load.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Gamenight- Bucs look to continue rolling in battle with Steelers

Florida Football Insiders

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Who: Buccaneers (2-0) vs. Steelers (0-1-1)

When: Monday Night 8:15 p.m.

Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa

Spread: Steelers by 1 (Courtesy VegasInsider.com)

It’s a massive early season game for both the Bucs and the Steelers for different reasons. Tampa Bay is trying to be 3-0 for the first time since 2005, while Pittsburgh doesn’t want to drop to 0-2-1 already on the young season.

Here’s what to watch:

Will “Fitzmagic” continue?

Through two weeks, there’s no better story involving a journeyman player than the Buccaneers QB, Ryan Fitzpatrick. He’s won the NFC Offensive Player of the Week in back to back weeks, which is the first time in Tampa Bay franchise history that anyone has done that. Fitzpatrick has also become the first QB in league history to have 400 or more passing yards and four or more passing TDs in the first two games of the season.

Will it continue tonight against a Steelers defense that was butchered at home a week ago by the Chiefs and QB Patrick Mahomes? Mahomes threw six touchdown passes in a K.C. rout in the Steel City.

Clearly, the Bucs weapons, WRs Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson plus tight end O.J. Howard are on fire, too. So, the stage is set for the 14 year vet to play another good, if not great game, now will he?

Steelers in disarray

There is no doubt that Pittsburgh has talent, but they currently are a mess. As we documented already, All Pro RB Le’Veon Bell is a holdout, refusing to sign his “Franchise Player” tender offer for the second straight year. You couple that with back to back poor performances on the field in a tie at Cleveland and then, the bad loss last week, and the Steelers are reeling.

And it didn’t help to see coach Mike Tomlin call the entire defense around him on the sideline in the first half last week to scream at them about they way they were playing. Then, you had star WR Antonio Brown visibly upset during discussions on the sideline with offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner last Sunday, too.

Can the Steelers rally around Roethlisberger? Or will they continue to flounder?

Finally, will Bucs defense rise in Monday Night Spotlight

So much has been made of Fitzpatrick’s success, but the Buccaneers defense also has come up large, when needed. This would include last week in the home opening win over the Eagles. LB Kwon Alexander had a sack fumble, and the Buccaneers defensive line not only stuffed the run but pressured, harassed and knocked down/sacked Nick Foles repeatedly.

Players like Pro Bowler Gerald McCoy (above), Jason Pierre-Paul, LaVonte David, and Brent Grimes (who’s expected to play despite groin injury) are chomping at the bit to win a game like this with the country watching.

The Bucs haven’t been dominant, but rather opportunistic with stops and turnovers (three so far in two games), and that must continue tonight, if Tampa Bay wants to remain unbeaten.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Le’Veon Bell to Bucs trade rumor is juicy- but not reality

Florida Football Insiders

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

It’s certainly a messy situation in Pittsburgh with running back Le’Veon Bell and the Steelers feuding over him not receiving a long-term contract. However, despite the juicy rumor dropped Sunday that the Buccaneers could be a trade partner for Bell’s services, there are multiple reasons why it doesn’t make sense/won’t happen:

First, ESPN insider Adam Schefter reported Sunday afternoon that Pittsburgh was working the phones to trade the All Pro running back:

However, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette very quickly debunked that report with Steeler’s sources, as Bell’s three game hold out continues.

Look. This obviously fits in perfectly to the Monday Night Football narrative that the Steelers are playing against the Buccaneers in Tampa, in a game on Schefter’s network.

Yet, there are numerous reasons why trading for Bell doesn’t make any sense for the Bucs.

Here goes:

The first and most obvious, is the Bucs have already won two games and have a great shot to be 3-0 against Bell’s team tonight. So the argument can be made: “you don’t mess with success you currently have.”

That would include having an explosive second round draft pick running back, Ronald Jones, who hasn’t been active for the first two games. But whom, they still believe as an organization will be a tremendous running back in the future.

In other words, if GM Jason Licht and the Bucs front office were to pull the trigger on this kind of a trade, now, they would almost be admitting that Jones was a bust draft pick before he’s ever set foot on the field for regular-season game. That’s hard to fathom.

Here’s another important reason why the Bucs won’t be making a trade for Le’Veon Bell: because this is the second consecutive year that Bell is under the franchise tender from the Steelers. And that means by CBA rules, he cannot receive a long-term contract during this season from anyone other than the Steelers.

It also means the Buccaneers and any other trading for Bell (shown in January’s playoff loss to the Jags above) would not have any assurance that he would sign a long-term contract with them, and would still be slated to be an unrestricted free agent in March of 2019.

The reason to make this move is: the future and multiple years of having Bell on your team. So, that is almost a non-starter for a trade right now.

Further, Bell and his side understand that at the moment, the Steelers are completely vulnerable, especially if they lose Monday night.

Their locker room is basically fractured over Bell not getting paid with a massive long-term deal like Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown have. So, if Bell truly wants to remain in Pittsburgh he may be about him to be in a great position to get a longer-term deal for big money.

That brings us to the next point though: the Steelers may have made up their mind that they’re never going to give Bell a long-term contract. However, again he has all the leverage with that, too.

This is because, if Bell shows up by week 10 for work, and plays out the rest of the 2018 season, he is eligible for unrestricted free agency. And, most importantly again by CBA rules, the Steelers cannot put the franchise tag on him for a third consecutive season.

At that point, Bell very simply will have won the standoff with Pittsburgh management.

So it goes with trade rumors, intriguing as they may be, the more you dig deep, the less likely they are based in reality.

It’s a much more likely reality that the Steelers continue to play hardball, possibly losing a bunch while doing it. Then, Bell will appear in early November to collect his year of service and at that point have all the leverage in the world, as a 27 year old free agent about to be on the open market.

Oh, and the Steelers will have gotten nothing in return, if it comes to that point.

However, you view it, it’s a mess.

But, not one that ends with Le’Veon Bell being traded to the Buccaneers.

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