Buc Rookies Hit the Community Trail

There are 19 rookies on the Buccaneers’ 90-man training camp roster, and all of them have the same goal: to be a part of the team come September.  For about a month and a half, learning what it will take to be a Buccaneer has been the focus of every rookie in Tampa, from second-round draft pick Johnthan Banks to undrafted free agent Tim Wright.

The Bucs’ three-day mini-camp ended on Thursday, however, and with it the entire offseason program, giving way to one final, long break before the start of training camp.  For veteran players, that meant the immediate start of vacation time on Thursday afternoon.  For the Buc rookies, however, something else was on tap.  For the next week, those young players who have been striving so hard to earn a spot on the roster will now be working to become a part of something else: the Bay area community. Continue reading

Mini-Camp Tryout Leads to Contract for Derek Hagan

Head  Coach Greg Schiano said on Wednesday that his players had put together two strong days of mini-camp practice, and that was apparently especially true of veteran WR Derek Hagan.

Those two practices proved to be the entirety of the mini-camp, as Schiano gave his players a break on Thursday and took them to a private screening of the upcoming Brad Pitt blockbuster World War Z.  Thus, Wednesday proved to be the end of the Bucs’ offseason work, but it was just the beginning for Hagan. Continue reading

NFL Network’s Scott Hanson Joins Bucs Cut for a Cure Efforts

When you’re a National Football League player, a thick head of hair could conceivably be a nuisance, perhaps adding a few degrees of temperature inside your helmet during a hot and grueling training camp practice.  When you’re a well-known member of the media covering the National Football League, a thick head of hair might actually be part of the presentation.

Whatever the level of sacrifice involved, some very full heads of hair have disappeared at One Buccaneer Place over the last six days, revealing the scalps – not to mention the care and generosity – of Buccaneer players and staff members, and now one prominent member of the NFL media.

On Wednesday, NFL Network’s Scott Hanson visited Buc headquarters during one of the team’s mini-camp practices specifically to get his head shaved in support of the Pediatric Cancer Foundation’s Cut for a Cure Charity Challenge.  Last Friday, Buccaneers General Manager Mark Dominik – a PCF board member – led more than 25 Buc players and staffers in getting the clean-shaven look, and it was an interview he conducted immediately after the cut that sparked Wednesday’s development.

Dominik, in front of a camera at One Buc, chatted with Hanson out in a NFLN studio in Los Angeles on Friday.  Most of the talk was about what the Buccaneers are doing on the field, of course, but Dominik’s new look couldn’t go without comment.  Somehow, that turned into a challenge, and Hanson stepped up.

“Mark Dominik’s been a friend – not only a business colleague but a friend – for a long time,” said Hanson, a former WFTS-TV reporter who still makes his offseason home in Tampa.  “At the end of the interview I said, ‘Hey, admit it – that’s a good haircut for the training camp weather that’s coming here in Tampa.’  He said, ‘You know that, Scott.  You know how it is down here in Tampa.  I want to see you with one of these one day.’

“I didn’t say anything at the time, but I thought about it afterwards and I [thought], ‘You know what?  I’m going to be in Tampa next week and I know they’ve got a mini-camp.  Maybe I can swing by, and if it will help awareness for pediatric cancer and the battles that families go through all across the country and all across the world, it would be a great cause.’”

Even though he was leery of the quality of haircut one might get at a football facility, Hanson arrived at One Buc Wednesday in very good spirits.  He knew his efforts could lead to the $23,500 already raised by the Buccaneer participants in the Cut for a Cure Challenge growing even further.  Hanson will make his own donation to the Pediatric Cancer Foundation to support his involvement, and hopes more will come from the exposure provided by footage of his sacrifice on NFL Network.

“Hopefully it will spark some interest in people, and maybe people who wouldn’t otherwise get involved might give a donation and help some folks out,” said Hanson.  There are currently 18 days left for donations to be added to the Bucs’ Cut for a Cure efforts on the Pediatric Cancer Foundation website.

Hanson laughingly said he was “hoping for the best but expecting the worst” when it came to his Wednesday haircut.  As it turned, he got a very nice buzz cut courtesy not only of a local professional but also some turns at the clippers by Dominik and one other special guest at One Buc Place, four-year-old Buc fan Joshua Fisher.

Fisher has been battling Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, a blood cancer that affects every part of the body, since he was two-and-a-half.  A huge sports fan, Joshua has become friends with Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman at various PCF events over the last year, and he was one of the pediatric cancer patients who joined in last Friday’s Cut for a Cure event at One Buc Place.  That was good news for Hanson, because by Wednesday Joshua had become very adept with the clippers, leading to a better haircut than the NFL Network analyst likely expected.

Anyway, like the players and staffers who participated in last Friday’s event at One Buc Place, Hanson knew that his hair would grow back, and that it was a small sacrifice to make in order to provide help for brave young boys and girls like Joshua.

Tim Wright Moves to Tight End

Most young players are hoping to make a move or two up the depth chart during offseason practices.  Tim Wright made a move sideways, and that might help him in the long run.

On Wednesday, for the second practice of the Buccaneers’ three-day mini-camp, the rookie from Rutgers came out with a new jersey, having traded in #18 for #81.  The reason was significant – wide receivers can wear numbers in the 10-19 and 80-89 ranges, but tight ends aren’t allowed to dip into the teens.  They can either wear an 80 number or, if none are available, something in the 40s.

Yep, Tim Wright is now a tight end. Continue reading

Sprint Cup Star Kasey Kahne Visits Bucs

Greg Schiano called them “two great Florida traditions:” the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Daytona International Speedway.  On Tuesday, those two state institutions overlapped in a way that was a blast for some of the people currently carrying on those traditions.

With the 55th annual Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race coming up on July 6, the numerical symmetry was too good to pass up.  On Tuesday, Kasey Kahne, driver fo the No. 5 Farmers Insurance car, visited One Buccaneer Place where, among other things, he took some time after the Bucs’ mini-camp practice to trade passes with his #5 counterpart, QB Josh Freeman. Continue reading

McNulty: Mechanics Not the Key to Helping Freeman

John McNulty is Josh Freeman’s new quarterbacks coach in 2013.  ‘New quarterbacks coach’ – that’s a phrase with which Freeman has become pretty familiar.

Freeman’s position coach upon arrival in Tampa as a first-round pick in 2009 was Greg Olson, though Olson would also be serving as offensive coordinator by the time the former Kansas State quarterback got his first NFL start.  In 2010 and 2011, the position was held by former NFL quarterback Alex Van Pelt.  With the arrival of new Head Coach Greg Schiano in 2012, the position went to Ron Turner and his more than three decades of coaching experience.  Turner moved on to become the head coach at Florida International in 2013, so in comes McNulty, who the Bucs had actually tried to hire away from the Arizona Cardinals a year earlier.

McNulty has plenty of experience, too, including four years in Arizona, a long run with Schiano at Rutgers and previous stops with the Cowboys and Jaguars.  He knows all about the proper mechanics for playing quarterback at a high level.  And that’s not at all his emphasis when it comes to coaching Josh Freeman. Continue reading

Bucs’ Return Jobs ‘Wide Open’

Two weeks ago, Buccaneers.com took a look at the positions where there was likely to be a training camp battle for the starting job, running down the competitors at such spots as strongside linebacker and nose tackle.

Not included in this analysis: punt returner and kickoff returner.  And for a good reason: Neither of those jobs is technically considered a starting position.  Make no mistake, however; those positions are of critical importance, and they are very much up in the air, perhaps more so than any other line on the depth chart. Continue reading

Fantasy Breakout on Tap for Freeman?

Last season, six NFL quarterbacks threw for at least 4,500 yards, and five tossed at least 30 touchdown passes.  Four did both: Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and Matt Ryan.

That’s the inner circle of quarterback elite that at least one NFL fantasy expert sees Tampa Bay’s Josh Freeman entering in 2013.  Setting aside for the moment what sort of stress that would create for NFC South defenses – Brees and Ryan aren’t going anywhere, statistically, and Cam Newton can be scary, too – that would make Freeman a potential steal, and a big one, in your fantasy draft. Continue reading

Freeman, Williams and Others Joining Dominik in Shaving Head for Cancer Research

Tampa Bay Buccaneers General Manager Mark Dominik might feel a little strange on Friday afternoon after he has his head shaved to support the Pediatric Cancer Foundation’s Fourth Annual Bright House Networks Cut for a Cure Charity Challenge.

What he won’t feel is lonely.

See, Dominik won’t be the only one sporting a newly shiny dome at One Buccaneer Place on Friday.  Joining him in this most worthy of causes – and in this most public of statements – will be more than a dozen current Buccaneer players, including quarterback Josh Freeman, wide receiver Mike Williams, linebacker Mason Foster, kicker Connor Barth and punter Michael Koenen. Continue reading