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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs rookies take shot at former kicker Roberto Aguayo

A screenshot from Bucs WR DeSean Jackson's Instagram story shows Bucs rookies taking a shot at former kicker Roberto Aguayo in a skit for the rest of the team Sunday night.

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A screenshot from Bucs WR DeSean Jackson's Instagram story shows Bucs rookies taking a shot at former kicker Roberto Aguayo in a skit for the rest of the team Sunday night.

It has been a rough weekend for Roberto Aguayo.

The former Bucs kicker, cut by Tampa Bay and claimed by the Bears last weekend, missed his first kick with Chicago on a 49-yard field goal on Saturday night.

And now Sunday, days after his difficult departure from Tampa Bay was aired on HBO's "Hard Knocks," the Bucs rookies are taking shots at him.

Sunday night had the Bucs rookies putting on a show for the rest of the team in One Buc Place's main auditorium, and as part of that, they came up with a list of "10 Things You Won't See During Camp," which was likely meant to stay within One Buc Place. Receiver DeSean Jackson posted a video to Instagram on Sunday night, however, and it showed that No. 9 on the list read "Roberto making his kicks ... Roberto making the team ... You know what, nevermind."

Jackson has since deleted the video, but with cameras all over One Buc Place, you wonder if the scene will show up in a future episode of "Hard Knocks."

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Demar Dotson should be back next week from groin injury

Bucs tackle Demar Dotson, shown last year when he signed a three-year contract extension, should only miss a week of practice with his groin injury and can return healthy for the Bucs' season opener at Miami in three weeks.

OCTAVIO JONES | Times

Bucs tackle Demar Dotson, shown last year when he signed a three-year contract extension, should only miss a week of practice with his groin injury and can return healthy for the Bucs' season opener at Miami in three weeks.

The Bucs got good news on starting right tackle Demar Dotson, whose MRI showed only a mild right groin sprain and should be back at practice next week.

Dotson said he actually suffered the injury in practice Tuesday and came out after 11 snaps in Thursday's preseason win at Jacksonville. Dotson was relieved to have only a low-grade sprain, and should be able to return healthy for the Bucs' season opener in three weeks at Miami.

"It's not too bad," Dotson said. "It was more a precautionary thing to get it tested out. I had the same one last year in the preseason and missed a few days. It's just the wear and tear of training camp, but we know the protocol to get it back."

The Bucs have limited proven depth at tackle, so keeping Dotson healthy is a major plus entering the season. The Bucs will likely have two second-year players as their backup tackles in Caleb Benenoch and Leonard Wester, and could use starting left guard Kevin Pamphile there if necessary as well. Benenoch was also sidelined with a minor injury Sunday, so Wester took reps as the first-string right tackle.

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No touchdown, but fun lesson for Bucs' Adam Humphries

Bucs WR Adam Humphries runs to the end zone with QB Jameis Winston trailing -- his alert play wasn't a touchdown because teammates cannot advance a fumble in the final two minutes of a half.

NFL GAME PASS

Bucs WR Adam Humphries runs to the end zone with QB Jameis Winston trailing -- his alert play wasn't a touchdown because teammates cannot advance a fumble in the final two minutes of a half.

It didn't end up being a touchdown, but one of the Bucs' biggest hustle plays in Thursday's win over Jacksonville saw receiver Adam Humphries scoop up a loose ball just before halftime, after what looked like an incompletion but was correctly ruled a Jameis Winston fumble.

Jacksonville's Dante Fowler got to Winston and hit the ball as he was starting his throwing motion -- the ball came out at an angle that looked like a pass, and five Jaguars players were around the loose ball, but only Humphries went after it. With Winston running at him and urging him to go, Humphries took off to the end zone for what was initially signaled as a touchdown on the field. As it turns out, in the final two minutes of a half, a player cannot advance a teammate's fumble. …

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Practice everything: Bucs took a safety to seal win

Bucs punter Bryan Anger, shown in minicamp this summer, took a safety in the final minute of Thursday's preseason win in a rare chance to practice endgame strategy.

LOREN ELLIOTT | TIMES

Bucs punter Bryan Anger, shown in minicamp this summer, took a safety in the final minute of Thursday's preseason win in a rare chance to practice endgame strategy.

Preseason games offer NFL teams a chance to practice everything, and the Bucs even worked on rare endgame strategy, taking a safety in the final minute of Thursday's win at Jacksonville.

Up 12-6 and punting from their 9-yard line with 39 seconds left, the Bucs lined up punter Bryan Anger in the end zone. But rather than punt -- where the Bucs risk a blocked kick for a touchdown, or a long return to set up a short field -- Dirk Koetter instructed Anger to stall, run off as much as clock as possible, then run out of the back of the end zone to concede a safety.

In the final minute of a game, there's little difference between a six-point and four-point lead, and the gambit allowed the Bucs to make a much safer free kick, which set the Jaguars up at their 35-yard line. They'd still get to the Bucs' 35, but the strategy paid off in sealing the Bucs' win -- and gave them practice for if they had to do the same in the regular season. …

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Simeon Rice takes time to work with Bucs defensive ends

Former Bucs great Simeon Rice, right, works with current Bucs defensive end Noah Spence as Ryan Russell looks on after practice Saturday.

LOREN ELLIOTT | TIMES

Former Bucs great Simeon Rice, right, works with current Bucs defensive end Noah Spence as Ryan Russell looks on after practice Saturday.

Simeon Rice spent extra time after training camp practice Saturday working with Bucs defensive ends Noah Spence and Ryan Russell, the way he did with rookies during his playing days as one of the most dominant pass rushers in NFL history.

Rice ranks 19th on the league’s career sack list with 122 and forced 25 fumbles during 12 seasons, including six with the Bucs.

Now a filmmaker, Rice has become the answer to a trivia question as the last Bucs player to record 10 or more sacks in a single season, which he accomplished in 2005. In fact, Rice averaged double-digit sacks for his career.

"It was great," Spence said. "He taught me things in five minutes I never thought to put into my game. He made me think about stuff I have to work on. It was a blessing to have him out here today."

Rice, 43, said he has been impressed with what he has seen on film of Spence, the Bucs second-round draft pick from Eastern Kentucky in 2016. Spence had 5.5 sacks as a rookie last season but played with a torn labrum in his right shoulder, which required surgery after the season. …

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Bucs-Jaguars was NFL's lowest-rated ESPN game since 2005

Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston talks with head coach Dirk Koetter during Thursday's 12-8 win over the Jaguars.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston talks with head coach Dirk Koetter during Thursday's 12-8 win over the Jaguars.

It is just the preseason, and it is the Jaguars, but Thursday night's Bucs-Jags preseason game earned a 1.6 rating on ESPN, which is the lowest-rated preseason game (excluding NFL Network) in 12 years, according to Sports Media Watch.

The 1.6 rating is the lowest for any ESPN preseason game since a tape-delayed 2005 game between the Falcons and Colts, which drew a 1.5 rating.

The site also reported that the Bucs-Jaguars' games 2.6 million viewers makes it the least-watched (non-NFL Network) preseason game in more than a decade -- the previous low was 2.8 million viewers for a 2008 game between the Jaguars and Redskins.

While the audience is low by NFL standards, the Bucs-Jags game still had the largest cable audience Thursday night among adults between ages 18 and 49, with a 0.9 rating in that demographic.

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Chasing 125: Bucs hope to hit rushing goal more often

Bucs coach Dirk Koetter, shown in minicamp in June, said his team sets a goal of either rushing for 125 yards -- as they did in Thursday's preseason win at Jacksonville -- or averaging 4.5 yards per carry.

LOREN ELLIOTT | TIMES

Bucs coach Dirk Koetter, shown in minicamp in June, said his team sets a goal of either rushing for 125 yards -- as they did in Thursday's preseason win at Jacksonville -- or averaging 4.5 yards per carry.

Ever so often, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter pulls back the curtain a bit and shares some of the stats that matter to him most as a coach.

On Friday, he was happy to report that the Bucs, by rushing for 130 yards in Thursday's 12-8 preseason win over the Jaguars, had checked off one of their statistical goals for the team in any game: rushing for 125 yards or averaging 4.5 yards per carry.

It's an interesting threshold -- teams often set specific goals to remind players of their importance, whether it be winning the turnover battle or hitting a certain percentage on third downs. Go back a year or two, and the 125-yard mark is one that illustrates how much the Bucs missed a consistent running game last season, especially compared to 2015, when Koetter was Tampa Bay's offensive coordinator.

How many times did the Bucs rush for 125 last season, or average 4.5 per carry? They did so exactly once -- rushing for 249 yards against a historically bad 49ers run defense in their road win. They came awfully close in their season-ending win against Carolina -- 25 rushes for 112 yards, which works out to 4.48 yards per carry. We'd understand if they round up and count that one. …

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Bucs mull options at right tackle as Dotson awaits MRI

Bucs right tackle Demar Dotson suffered a groin injury in the first quarter of Thursday's preseason game at Jacksonville.

LOREN ELLIOTT | TIMES

Bucs right tackle Demar Dotson suffered a groin injury in the first quarter of Thursday's preseason game at Jacksonville.

Right tackle Demar Dotson, the Bucs' most experienced offensive lineman, will undergo an MRI on his injured groin Saturday, three weeks before the season opener.

How would the Bucs replace Dotson if he had an extended absence? Second-year pro Caleb Benenoch, potentially the top backup at both tackle spots, filled in Thursday night when Dotson was hurt after only 11 plays. Coach Dirk Koetter said his run blocking looked better than his pass protection -- he was flagged for one of four holding penalties against the Bucs offense.

"He's doing a nice job in the run game," Koetter said. "He's a little inconsistent in his pass pro right now. But we're really happy with how he's progressing in the run game."

Dotson could very well be fine, but if he had a longterm injury, another option would be to shift starting left guard Kevin Pamphile, who played tackle at the start of his time with the Bucs, to right tackle, with veteran Evan Smith stepping up at left guard. …

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Bucs' Mike Evans motivated by deep ball that got away

Bucs receiver Mike Evans had five catches for 57 yards in the first half of Thursday's 12-8 win against the Jaguars.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Bucs receiver Mike Evans had five catches for 57 yards in the first half of Thursday's 12-8 win against the Jaguars.

JACKSONVILLE -- Bucs receiver Mike Evans had an efficient half of football Thursday night, with six ball thrown his way and five catches for 57 yards in Tampa Bay's 12-8 preseason win over the Jaguars.

But the one that got away is what will continue to motivate him in the three weeks before the regular season arrives.

Already up 9-0 in the second quarter, the Bucs had a first down at the Jacksonville 43 when Jameis Winston threw a long pass down the left sideline, only to have the ball go through Evans' hands incomplete. Tampa Bay would later settle for a field goal.

"I had a drop in the end zone. Things I can work on," Evans said after the game. "These preseason games are good practice for us, to get ready for the real thing. I think we did well."

Evans said he can't make excuses for his single miss -- the ball was well thrown and he just couldn't bring it in.

"I tracked it pretty bad," he said. "It got caught in the lights, but the lights don't get the drop. I do. I can make that. Hopefully we'll be playing a lot of prime-time games (under the lights), so I've got to get ready for that." …

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McCoy: Bucs defense wanted to 'set the tone' vs. Jaguars

Jaguars RB T.J. Yeldon is brought down by the Bucs' Robert Ayers and Lavonte David in Thursday's 12-8 win for Tampa Bay.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Jaguars RB T.J. Yeldon is brought down by the Bucs' Robert Ayers and Lavonte David in Thursday's 12-8 win for Tampa Bay.

JACKSONVILLE -- The Bucs' starting defense held the Jaguars to a total of 1 rushing yard on 7 carries in the first half of Thursday's 12-8 win.

And they were disappointed.

"We want them to have negative-90, negative-80. We don't care," defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. "We want to keep it going. This is just one showing. We have to be consistent."

The Jaguars, with top rookie Leonard Fournette sidelined by injury, didn't have a run longer than 3 yards in the first half, but the Bucs said they need success against the run as the starting point for their defense.

"We've got to get better on stopping the run," said defensive tackle Clinton McDonald, who had one of the Bucs' seven tackles for loss. "Our job is never done. We still have to work on things to improve and be a better defense. It's all about consistency in the NFL. You can't just come out and do it one night and expect to be a great team. We still have a long ways to go. We know where our mark is set now with what we did tonight. We have to do that every play." …

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Winston looks good beating Jaguars except for one awful play

There is a reason why the air in Tampa Bay is filled with playoff talk. If Thursday night’s 12-8 preseason win over the Jaguars is any indication, it’s also going to be filled with footballs thrown by quarterback Jameis Winston.

The Bucs are putting more and more of their offense on Winston’s right shoulder and it seems plenty  strong enough to carry this football team.

But his head may not be.

One play from Thursday’s game serves as a reminder that Winston still hasn’t learned when to attack and when to play dead.

Facing third and goal from the Jaguars’ 7-yard line in the second quarter, Winston was being pulled to the ground by Jaguars defensive tackle Sheldon Day when a bad habit took hold of him.

From the seat of his pants, he threw a pass up for grabs in the end zone that was intercepted by safety Barry Church.

Fortunately, referee Clete Blakeman ruled Winston’s ‘progress was stopped,’ resulting in a sack.

“Not what we’re looking for. Elite quarterbacks don’t make that play,’’ coach Dirk Koetter said.

Remember the scene from the first episode of Hard Knocks when Winston asked coach Dirk Koetter ‘how much is too much?’

That play, right there, Jameis, is too much. …

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Cannon Fodder podcast: Previewing Bucs-Jaguars

Charles Sims runs with the ball during the Bucs' game against the Jaguars last season.

LOREN ELLIOTT | Times

Charles Sims runs with the ball during the Bucs' game against the Jaguars last season.

Greg Auman previews the Bucs' preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars and talks about the $26,000 Bucs rookie dinner tab that wasn't in our latest Bucs Cannon Fodder podcast. Listen below:

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Donovan Smith: $26,000 rookie dinner tab just a prank

Here's the "bill" from the Bucs' offensive line "rookie dinner" at Ruth's Chris in Jacksonville. Donovan Smith said the linemen got a fake bill to scare the team's two rookies, who by tradition must pay for the dinner for all the team's offensive linemen.

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Here's the "bill" from the Bucs' offensive line "rookie dinner" at Ruth's Chris in Jacksonville. Donovan Smith said the linemen got a fake bill to scare the team's two rookies, who by tradition must pay for the dinner for all the team's offensive linemen.

Bucs tackle Donovan Smith pranked his rookie offensive linemen on Wednesday night, and got us pretty good as well.

Tampa Bay's 15 offensive linemen went out for a training camp tradition -- the rookie dinner, where rookies have to pay for an expensive dinner with their entire position, never more a challenge than with the offensive line -- in number and in size. Smith posted a picture of a receipt on Instagram with a $26,357 tab (plus tip!) and captioned it "Rookie Dinner thanks!!"

The Bucs have two rookie linemen -- tackles Cole Gardner and Korren Kirven -- and both were undrafted free agents, so they go into the league with little to no signing bonus and will do well to make the team's practice squad. Kirven posted video from the dinner, fretting the potential bill, then posted a pic of that same receipt, writing "Rest in Peace."

The receipt showed all kinds of expensive drinks -- 50 shots of Louis XIII cognac at $200 each (that's $10,000), three bottles of red wine at $1,150 each, plus another $7,280 in Opus One wines. …

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Jameis Winston's scolding of offensive linemen was a strong leadership moment

Quarterback Jameis Winston went to each teammate in the locker room prior to the Bucs" preseason opener Friday at Cincinnati with one message: ‘I got your back.’

Then he proved it.

After being told backup quarterback Ryan Griffin had suffered an injury to his right throwing shoulder, ending his battle for the No. 2 quarterback job with Ryan Fitzpatrick, Winston spotted two backup offensive linemen yucking it up on the bench.

Winston approached offensive linemen James Stone and Jarvis Harrison, who were seated on the sideline, talking and laughing. He then sarcastically told them he was glad they were having fun while Ryan was being attended to in the locker room by the Bucs medical staff.

“I’m happy y’all are having fun, but Ryan just hurt his shoulder. So keep having fun,’’ Winston said.

Ryan suffered a sprain on the AC joint in his shoulder and will miss several weeks. Stone and Harrison quickly changed their demeanor and knew better than to respond to Winston, who dismissively turned and walked away. …

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Jameis Winston's subtle but strong leadership moment

Quarterback Jameis Winston went to each teammate in the locker room prior to the Bucs" preseason opener Friday at Cincinnati with one message: ‘I got your back.’

Then he proved it.

After being told backup quarterback Ryan Griffin had suffered an injury to his right throwing shoulder, ending his battle for the No. 2 quarterback job with Ryan Fitzpatrick, Winston spotted two backup offensive linemen yucking it up on the bench.

Winston approached offensive linemen James Stone and James Harrison, who were seated on the sideline, talking and laughing. He then sarcastically told them he was glad they were having fun while Ryan was being attended to in the locker room by the Bucs medical staff.

“I’m happy y’all are having fun, but Ryan just hurt his shoulder. So keep having fun,’’ Winston said.

Stone and Harrison quickly changed their demeanor and knew better than to respond to Winston, who dismissively turned and walked away.

But in those few moments, Hard Knocks cameras captured the kind of determined leadership that Winston demonstrates each day. Sometimes it’s subtle. Sometimes sarcastic. But always strong.

 

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