Friday Injury Report: All Probable

The Buccaneers have no injury concerns heading into the weekend as they prepare to fly to Denver, beyond what the injured reserve list has already subtracted from the roster.  All four players on Tampa Bay’s official report were listed as probable on Friday.

The Broncos list isn’t much more concerning, but the team is still not sure if DE Robert Ayers is going to be available on Sunday.  Ayers was not at practice on Friday as he continues to deal with a death in the family.  WR Brandon Stokley, the team’s third-leading pass-catcher among wideouts, was limited for the third straight day on Friday and is considered questionable for the game.

Here are the full Friday injury reports for both teams, complete with game-status designations:

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Player Injury Practice   Status Game   Status
DE   Michael Bennett Ankle Full   Participation Probable
C   Ted Larsen Illness Full   Participation Probable
DT   Roy Miller Illness Full   Participation Probable
LB   Dekoda Watson Hamstring Full   Participation Probable

 

Denver Broncos

Player Injury Practice   Status Game   Status
DE   Robert Ayers Not-Injury   Related Did   Not Participate Questionable
T   Chris Clark Illness Did   Not Participate Questionable
TE   Virgil Green Hamstring Full   Participation Probable
G   Chris Kuper Ankle Full   Participation Probable
DE   Malik Jackson Finger Full   Participation Probable
CB   Tracy Porter Illness Full   Participation Probable
G Manny   Ramirez Back Full   Participation Probable
WR   Brandon Stokley Wrist/Hip Limited   Participation Questionable
WR   Demaryius Thomas Knee Full   Participation Probable

 

Lynch, Sapp Take Next Step Towards Hall of Fame

The late Lee Roy Selmon remains the only player in the Pro Football Hall of Fame who played all or most of his career as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer.  Selmon’s bust in Canton may soon have company, however.

On Friday, the Hall of Fame announced the modern-era semifinalists for the Class of 2013, including the six remaining first-year-eligible candidates.  One third of that latter list is made up of Buccaneers: safety John Lynch and DT Warren Sapp. Continue reading

Who Do I Root For? (Week 13)

Welcome to our new Captain’s Blog feature, wherein we try to sort out the more complicated NFC playoff implications of each weekend in the season’s stretch drive, so that you, the Tampa Bay fan and Sunday NFL viewer, can know exactly which outcomes are best for the Buccaneers.

(Or, potentially, you can complete disagree with our choices and tell us why in the comments below.  That’s your right.) Continue reading

Bucs Fantasy Brief: Who Should Stay in my Keeper League, Dougernaut or RGIII?

There are a number of ways fantasy football keeper leagues can be run. In some, you keep as many players as you like from one year to the next. In others you can keep, say, three players, but only if they were drafted after Round Four. Et cetera.  For the purposes of this exercise, however, let’s assume you are allowed to keep one player but it will cost you your pick in the round you originally drafted him. For instance, if you want to keep a wide receiver that you drafted in round seven, then in next season’s draft, you will not have a pick in Round Seven. Continue reading

Thursday Injury Report: 53 Strong

A little rest did Ted Larsen and Roy Miller good, and on Thursday the Buccaneers had all of their players in action on the practice field.

Miller had missed Wednesday’s workout and Larsen had been limited, both due to illness, but they were full participants on Friday.  No one sat out.

The Broncos’ injury report didn’t change a bit from Wednesday to Thursday, and it’s not much more concerning than the Bucs’ short list.  DE Robert Ayers still did not practice but he isn’t injured; he has been excused due to a death in the family.  Reserve guard Manny Ramirez (back) and third receiver Brandon Stokley (wrist/hip) were the only other players who were limited on Thursday.

Here are the full Thursday injury reports for both teams:

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Player Injury Practice   Status
DE   Michael Bennett Ankle Full   Participation
C   Ted Larsen Illness Full   Participation
DT   Roy Miller Illness Full   Participation
LB   Dekoda Watson Hamstring Full   Participation

 

Denver Broncos

Player Injury Practice   Status
DE   Robert Ayers Not-Injury   Related Did   Not Participate
TE   Virgil Green Hamstring Full   Participation
G   Chris Kuper Ankle Full   Participation
DE   Malik Jackson Finger Full   Participation
CB   Tracy Porter Illness Full   Participation
G   Manny Ramirez Back Limited   Participation
WR   Brandon Stokley Wrist/Hip Limited   Participation
WR   Demaryius Thomas Knee Full   Participation

 

TEAM DAVIN Growing Fast

Last Sunday, in the hours leading up to the Buccaneers’ home game against the Falcons, Pro Bowl guard Davin Joseph set up a tent in the South Concourse outside Raymond James Stadium and invited any and all comers to join TEAM DAVIN.

Joseph, who is currently on injured reserve, still made good use of game day by greeting fans and handing out autographs to anyone who joined his crew.  Joining TEAM DAVIN meant signing up to help Joseph and the United Way by serving a volunteers, mentors and tutors in the Bay area.  Budding community leaders showed up by the hundreds to get involved.

In fact, TEAM DAVIN is now one of the most robust United Way volunteer groups in the NFL.  Each of the 32 NFL teams has designated one player to serve as their United Way spokesperson, as well as their leading activist in recruiting volunteers.  The United Way is even keeping a leaderboard of the 32 participants, tracking which players sign up the most volunteers.

Thanks to the turnout on Sunday, Joseph now has the second biggest group of volunteers behind him, at 1,161 through Thursday.  Houston’s Glover Quin is the only player with more, at 1,329.  Those two and the New York Giants’ George Wilson are the only three players in the league who have surpassed 1,000 signees, with the next highest player coming in at 645.

But the contest isn’t over, nor has your chance to join TEAM DAVIN passed.  You can sign up at any time by visiting the TEAM DAVIN page on Buccaneers.com.  Those who sign up through the web site will be entered into a drawing to win a football autographed by Joseph and many of his Buccaneer teammates.

And, by signing up, you can help TEAM DAVIN grow even larger.  The player who signs up the most new recruits between August 5 and December 30 will receive the principle star position in the 2013 NFL “Live United” nationally-broadcast public service advertisement, distributed by the Ad Council.  The winner would also be featured on the United Way’s 2013 NFL schedule, which is distributed nationwide.

A victory for Joseph would also have a positive impact on education in the Bay area.  The NFL market of the winning player will receive a $10,000 grant to be spent on an education project involving that player.

So sign up for TEAM DAVIN now and make a difference in the Bay area community.

Rookie of the Month Not Playing Like a Rookie

On Thursday, LB Lavonte David became the first Buccaneer ever to win an NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month award.  David took the award for his efforts in the month of December, but truth be told, he hasn’t really felt like a rookie since September.

“The vets have told me I’m not a rookie anymore,” he said.  “Once you get on the field, they say, ‘Hey, all that rookie junk is gone.  You’re  a man now, you’ve got to handle your business.’  And that’s what I’ve been trying to do.”

David led the NFL with 47 tackles in November, five of which came behind the line of scrimmage.  Defensive Coordinator Bill Sheridan could have picked David for the award without even seeing those numbers, however.  According to Sheridan, the most impressive part about David’s game so far is how seamlessly he has taken over the job of defensive play-calling.

“I think probably the most pleasant surprise is the fact that he’s been able to handle all the mental stuff,” said Sheridan.  “We all thought he was going to be a fantastic player but you never know until you get him in your system if he can handle it and make calls at the line of scrimmage and notify offensive formations and backfield sets and that kind of stuff.  I’m not shocked that he was doing it but you never know until you put him in the system, and he’s done a fantastic job in that area, outside of being a fantastic player, which he is.”

For his part, David shared the credit for the smoothness of his on-field leadership with his teammates, saying he’s had plenty of help along the way.  He never doubted he could handle the play-calling duties, however, having done the same thing at Nebraska.  He figures he convinced the Bucs’ coaches and scouts of his strong mental makeup before the draft.

“I think they feel I’m a very mature and responsible guy,” he said.  “I had that same responsibility in college and they thought I could turn it over to this level.  I’ve been really working on that, and guys have been helping me since Day One.

“It’s just studying, knowing what you’ve got to do, knowing what the guys are doing around you.  That makes you play your game faster.  It’s breaking down opponents and stuff like that.  All of that ties together and I think I’ve been doing a good job of that.  Guys are still helping me.  Everybody’s working together at it and it’s just working out.”

Gruden Among Reunion Attendees

In his first year as head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, in 2002, Jon Gruden led the team to its first Super Bowl championship.  On December 9, Gruden will be back in Tampa to lead that same squad out onto the field at Raymond James Stadium.

The Buccaneers have organized a reunion of that unforgettable ’02 team, which set a team record with 12 regular-season wins and then steamrolled the 49ers, Eagles and Raiders to take the title.  That was particularly fitting for Gruden, who had worked for all three of those teams en route to his post with the Buccaneers and, in fact, had left the Raiders to take over in Tampa Bay.

Gruden, who is now an ESPN analyst and a member of the Monday Night Football broadcast team, will join other former players and coaches from the Super Bowl XXXVII team on the field on Dec. 9 when they are honored on the 10th anniversary of that championship season at halftime.  The group will also gather at One Buccaneer Place on Saturday night for a special reunion event.

The list of players and coaches from that championship team who will take the field in front of the Raymond James Stadium crowd is impressively long and includes a vast majority of the figures Buccaneer fans will remember.  The entire list will be announced shortly on Buccaneers.com.

This will not be Gruden’s first time back at One Buccaneer Place since his final season as head coach in 2008.  He returned last year as part of the MNF team for Tampa Bay’s prime-time game against the Indianapolis Colts, even interviewing current Buccaneer players inside team headquarters.  This time, however, Gruden and his fellow 2002 Buccaneers will be the ones in the spotlight.

High Altitude Doesn’t Concern Bucs

Lavonte David didn’t get a chance to play the Colorado Buffaloes in Boulder during his two years at Nebraska, but his Cornhuskers did make on trip to play Wyoming in Laramie.  And in terms of altitude, the Cowboys’ home actually has 1,855 miles on Boulder.

So, yes, the Buccaneers’ rookie has actually played in “thinner” air than what he and his new teammates will experience this Sunday when they take on the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field.  David’s recollection of the experience: No big deal.

“It was [difficult] at the beginning, but you get used to it,” he said.  “It wasn’t that bad.  It wasn’t as bad as you think it’s going to be.”

Air at any level of the Earth’s atmosphere has the same amount of oxygen in it, but the lower atmospheric pressure at higher altitudes makes it more difficult for a person to force that oxygen into his lungs.  This can obviously lead to increased breathing and heart rates, quicker fatigue and dehydration.  It stands to reason that the Denver players will be much more acclimated to the environment than will the Buccaneers.

However, nobody in the Bucs’ locker room seems particularly concerned about playing a mile high.

T Donald Penn played his college football at Utah State in Logan, Utah, which has an elevation of 4,535 feet, about a 1,000 feet lower than Denver.  He says the adjustment period should be pretty quick for the visiting team.

“We’ll be ready, we’ll be fine,” he said.  “I’ve played up there before.  The air, once you get used to it real quick, it doesn’t really affect you once you get going.  It might affect you early, but once you get going it becomes natural.”

DE Michael Bennett played in a couple high-altitude stadiums during his days at Texas A&M.  He points out that the team will actually arrive in Denver on Saturday and should be able to get used to the difference in the atmosphere by the next day.

“It’s a big difference, but you’ve just got to get used to it – running in and running out,” he said.  “You’ve got to keep your breath.  You start breathing hard and you can’t have your pants too tight.  But once you get out there and breathe it on Saturday you should feel pretty good on Sunday.”

O-Line Faces Biggest Threat Yet

Five minutes into the second quarter of the Buccaneers’ nail-biter with the Falcons on Sunday, QB Josh Freeman was sacked by blitzing CB Dunta Robinson.  Two plays later, Freeman was sacked again, this time by DE Kroy Biermann.

This was an uncommon experience for Freeman.  Those two sacks, before the second quarter was halfway over, equaled the highest total he had absorbed in any of the Bucs’ previous 10 games of 2012.  It looked like he might be in for a long afternoon.

As it would turn out, however, Freeman would not suffer another sack the rest of the way.  Continue reading