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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Hobart president among fans going to see Ali Marpet vs. Bills

Bucs center Ali Marpet, right, congratulates kicker Nick Folk after the winning field goal in a win against the Giants. Marpet will play Sunday in Buffalo, about 108 miles from where he played in college at Hobart.

LOREN ELLIOTT | TIMES

Bucs center Ali Marpet, right, congratulates kicker Nick Folk after the winning field goal in a win against the Giants. Marpet will play Sunday in Buffalo, about 108 miles from where he played in college at Hobart.

Bucs center Ali Marpet went to college at Hobart, just over 100 miles east of Buffalo, and the college's president will be among a large group of fans proudly driving over to see Marpet play as the Bucs face the Bills on Sunday.

"I'll have a Hobart crew up at the game," Marpet said this week as the Bucs prepare for Sunday's 1 p.m. kickoff. "Some old teammates and coaches are going to the game. The president is getting a box, so I'll see a bunch of people after the game."

Greg Vincent, the president of Hobart and William Smith Colleges, will be in attendance, and at least two buses have been set up to take alumni and students from Geneva to Syracuse, with a Hobart-specific tailgate set up before the game.

Marpet, 24, said he's never been to a Bills game, but will do his best to convert some of the locals, if only for a few hours: "There were plenty of Bills fans on my team though, that's for sure," he said.

When Marpet went to the Bucs in the second round in 2015, he became the first NFL draft pick ever from the tiny Division III school. He's the first Hobart player to play in an NFL game since 1937, when halfback Fred King played in a single game for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

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Koetter: QB Jameis Winston will start Sunday vs. Bills

Bucs QB Jameis Winston, shown against the Patriots two weeks ago, will start Sunday at Buffalo after being sidelined with a shoulder injury last week. Dirk Koetter announced that he was starting after watching him throw at practice Friday.

MONICA HERNDON | TIMES

Bucs QB Jameis Winston, shown against the Patriots two weeks ago, will start Sunday at Buffalo after being sidelined with a shoulder injury last week. Dirk Koetter announced that he was starting after watching him throw at practice Friday.

After five days of uncertainty, Jameis Winston will be starting at quarterback on Sunday as the Bucs play at Buffalo, coach Dirk Koetter announced Friday afternoon.

Winston had not thrown at practice all week, but resumed throwing Friday morning, and Koetter was pleased with what he saw.

"Jameis threw the ball well today," Koetter said. "He'll be our starter. Jameis is our starter. He'll be out there."

Winston sprained the AC joint in his right (throwing) shoulder and left in the second quarter of Sunday's game, with backup Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing for 290 yards and three touchdowns as the Bucs rallied from a 31-0 deficit to take a 38-33 loss.

Winston has started all 37 games in his three-year NFL career, so that streak is no longer in jeopardy. Winston had said after the game that he expected to play, and after four days of rest, he's back where he needs to be.

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Bucs QB Jameis Winston back throwing in practice Friday

Bucs QB Jameis Winston, right, congratulates Cardinals QB Carson Palmer after Sunday's Bucs loss in Arizona. Winston left the game with a shoulder injury.

LOREN ELLIOTT | TIMES

Bucs QB Jameis Winston, right, congratulates Cardinals QB Carson Palmer after Sunday's Bucs loss in Arizona. Winston left the game with a shoulder injury.

The will-he-won't-he Winston Watch is trending positive Friday morning, as Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston threw for the first time since injuring his throwing shoulder in Sunday's loss at Arizona.

Whether that translates to him starting Sunday against the Bills in Buffalo remains to be seen, but after not throwing in two days of full practice, Winston was throwing as usual in the Bucs' final practice of the week.

With attending media watching with TV cameras and cellphones out recording, Winston showed off his shoulder, throwing a high pass into the media area, perhaps 25 yards behind the back of the end zone. Is it sending a message of confidence, or just more gamesmanship?

Bucs coach Dirk Koetter had said Winston would take all the first-team throwing reps in Friday's practice, and since the Bucs only have two quarterbacks on roster, he's in a position to dress and be active Sunday, in the very least as a backup to Ryan Fitzpatrick. The 34-year-old stepped in last week and threw for 290 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions, helping rally the Bucs from a 31-0 deficit to give the Cardinals a scare in what ended up a 38-33 loss for Tampa Bay.

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Cannon Fodder podcast: Most important stat in Bucs-Bills game

Interceptions, such as this one by Brent Grimes against Arizona, will be the most important stat in Sunday's game.

LOREN ELLIOTT | Times

Interceptions, such as this one by Brent Grimes against Arizona, will be the most important stat in Sunday's game.

Greg Auman talks about the uncertainty at quarterback for the Bucs as they go to Buffalo in his latest Cannon Fodder podcast.

Plus, more on the Bills' lack of playmakers at receiver, how they beat Atlanta and how interceptions are the single most important stat in Sunday's game. Listen below:

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Koetter: Jameis Winston will test shoulder in practice Friday

Jameis Winston didn't throw at practice Wednesday.

LOREN ELLIOTT | Times

Jameis Winston didn't throw at practice Wednesday.

Will he? Won't he? It appears the Bucs' uncertainty over whether quarterback Jameis Winston can play through a shoulder injury Sunday at Buffalo will carry up until the final hours before kickoff.

Winston left Sunday's loss at Arizona in the second quarter after spraining the AC joint in his right (throwing) shoulder, but an MRI showed no additional damage. Coach Dirk Koetter has said Winston has no potential for further damage by playing, so it's a matter of pain tolerance and whether the shoulder limits his ability to throw. Veteran backup Ryan Fitzpatrick, who threw for 290 yards off the bench at Arizona, is ready to step in if needed.

Winston didn't throw at practice Wednesday, and while coaches had planned to let him throw Thursday, they opted to wait another day, and Koetter said Winston will get all the throwing reps on Friday, which is typically a shorter practice.

"I would fully expect that Jameis takes all the snaps (Friday)," Koetter said. "You guys will get an injury report, and you can draw your own conclusions."

The uncertainty also keeps Buffalo from knowing which quarterback to prepare for, maintaining every strategic advantage ahead of a pivotal game.

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Winston still doesn't appear to be cleared to throw down field

Offensive coordinator Todd Monken said he thought the Bucs would know more about the status of Jameis Winston for Sunday's game at Buffalo following practice today.

But if the portion of practice open to the media Thursday is any indication, Winston probably isn't playing.

Winston was limited to one throw to a running back during individual drills and pretty much avoided any making any significant passes for the first 30 minutes of practice.

Most likely it will be a game-time decision, but all indications so far this week is that backup Ryan Fitzpatrick will start against the Bills.

Winston would be available as a No. 2 quarterback for Sunday and could probably function in the offense if something happened to Fitzpatrick. But the Bucs have to consider the long-term health of Winston.

Fitzpatrick has 116 career starts and is familiar with New Era Field and the AFC East, having played for both the Bills and the New York Jets. The Bucs have to weigh playing Winston Sunday against the risk of possibly losing him for a significant stretch of games. In two weeks, the Bucs being play in the NFC South by hosting the Atlanta Falcons. …

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Jameis Winston to start throwing, wants to play but admits 'it's a long season'

Injured Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston will attempt to throw some passes in practice today, according to offensive coordinator Todd Monken.

But no decision is expected until later in the week and could go as late as game time Sunday at Buffalo.

“We’ll see today. I think Jameis feels better today,’’ Monken said. “We’ll know a lot more after today’s practice.’

Winston suffered a sprained AC joint in his right throwing shoulder in the Bucs’ 38-33 loss at Arizona Sunday.

When asked how he felt on Thursday, Winston said, “I’m ready. When it’s time to let me go, I’m ready.’’

The Bucs are preparing for Sunday’s game against the Bills with backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick taking all the first-team reps in practice on Wednesday. Fitzpatrick passed for 290 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions in leading the Bucs to 33 points in the second half Sunday.

Winston says he’s not worrying about his ability to throw the football and said it was more about managing the pain from his shoulder. …

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Bucs snapper Sanborn looking forward to return to Bills

Bucs long snapper Garrison Sanborn returns this weekend to Buffalo, where he played for eight seasons.

NFL

Bucs long snapper Garrison Sanborn returns this weekend to Buffalo, where he played for eight seasons.

Throughout his eight seasons with the Bills, whenever former players would come to Buffalo for a game, Garrison Sanborn remembers the place to take them for a reunion dinner was a popular Italian restaurant called Mulberry.

This weekend, he'll be on the other side of the table.

Sanborn, who has taken over as the Bucs' long snapper this season, returns to Buffalo this weekend, and while it will feel odd to be on the other sideline at New Era Field, he's looking forward to his return and hopeful for a win against many old friends.

"It'll be fun. I'm excited to go back -- obviously I was there for a while, so I have a lot of friends to see on the other side. I'll be excited to take it to 'em," he said.

Sanborn only had one winning season in eight years in Buffalo -- 9-7 in 2014 -- and a result, he had seven different head coaches, counting a pair of interim coaches. He only talked to new coach Sean McDermott a few times on the phone this spring, but said he sees a much-needed discipline on this year's Bills team. …

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Bucs' Mike Evans, Bills CB Gaines could face off again

Bucs WR Mike Evans hauls in a touchdown catch during Sunday's loss at Arizona. On Sunday when the Bucs play at Buffalo, he could line up against cornerback E.J. Gaines, who he's gone up against since college.

LOREN ELLIOTT | TIMES

Bucs WR Mike Evans hauls in a touchdown catch during Sunday's loss at Arizona. On Sunday when the Bucs play at Buffalo, he could line up against cornerback E.J. Gaines, who he's gone up against since college.

Bucs receiver Mike Evans has gone up against four Pro Bowl cornerbacks in five games, and on Sunday he could be lining up against a corner he has a history with in Buffalo's E.J. Gaines.

Gaines was limited in practice Wednesday as he recovers from a groin injury that sidelined him from the Bills' last game. Buffalo's secondary as a whole has been outstanding, allowing an NFL-low two touchdown passes in six games and intercepting eight passes, the fourth-highest total out of 32 teams.

But Evans and Gaines go back a while -- they faced each other in college, when Evans played at Texas A&M and Gaines was at Missouri, and Gaines helped hold Evans to a career-low 8 receiving yards on four catches in a Missouri win. Evans went to the Bucs in the first round in 2014 and Gaines was drafted by the Rams in the sixth round, which led to him questioning why Evans would go so much higher than he did.

"To see him go in the first round and see me go in the sixth is a little crazy to me," he told ESPN that summer, saying that "God has a plan for me and Mike Evans." …

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NFL gives Tampa Bay final approval to host Super Bowl LV

NFL owners granted final approval today for Tampa Bay to host Super Bowl LV on Feb. 7, 2021 at Raymond James Stadium.

SKIP O'ROURKE | Times (2001)

NFL owners granted final approval today for Tampa Bay to host Super Bowl LV on Feb. 7, 2021 at Raymond James Stadium.

TAMPA – Start celebrating. Finally, it’s official. The biggest Super Bowl LV party will be held on the streets of Tampa Bay.

NFL owners granted final approval today for Tampa Bay to host Super Bowl LV on Feb. 7, 2021 at Raymond James Stadium after determining all the league’s requirements had been met.

The game was awarded to Tampa Bay in May by a vote of the owners pending specifications being submitted and met. The Super Bowl advisory committee reviewed the bid and agreed their demands had been satisfied Wednesday at the NFL owners meetings in New York.

“The final approval of Super Bowl LV is a great source of pride for the Glazer family, the Buccaneers organization and the entire Tampa Bay region,’’ Bucs co-chairman Bryan Glazer said in a statement released by the team. “We have made substantive improvements in recent years to ensure that Raymond James Stadium could ultimately host the game for a third time and we appreciate that our fellow owners have recognized the stadium and our area’s long and distinguished history as a world class host city.’’

How Tampa Bay was awarded its fifth Super Bowl is a story of luck and mostly perseverance. …

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Under attack by QBs and coach, Bucs' Vernon Hargreaves says 'I'm not producing'

Eli Manning gathered his receivers together during the Giants Week 4 game against the Bucs and informed them of the weakest link of the secondary he planned to target that afternoon.

“Hey, we’re attacking 28 all day,” an emotional Manning said on the sideline to receivers Odell Beckham, Brandon Marshall and Sterling Shepard. “Goin’ after his ass, alright?”

No. 28 is Bucs cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, the first round pick from Florida. On Monday, coach Dirk Koetter said he was ''extremely concerned'' about the way Hargreaves was playing.

Manning attacked Hargreaves 12 times that day, competing eight passes for 97 yards with only one pass defensed for a 91.3 efficiency rating. The sideline exchange was captured by NFL Films and broadcast on Inside the NFL. The Bucs somehow won the game 25-23 on Nick Folk’s field goal on the final play of the game.

But the game plan to attack Hargreaves didn’t change for the Patriots or the Cardinals. In fact, quarterbacks this season have a 128.7 rating when targeting Hargreaves and a 68.6 rating when throwing at cornerback Brent Grimes.

On Wednesday, Hargreaves was asked about Koetter being concerned about his performance this season. …

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Bucs relieved Jameis Winston is 'day to day,' with sprain to his right throwing shoulder

The Bucs got good news on quarterback Jameis Winston, who is ‘day-to-day,’ after an MRI revealed a sprained AC joint in his right throwing shoulder but no structural damage, coach Dirk Koetter said Monday.

Winston will be limited at practice and is not expected to throw the football much this week but has not been ruled out as the starter against the Buffalo Bills Sunday.

Winston was injured with just over nine minutes left in the first quarter of the Bucs 38-33 loss at Arizona Sunday when he was hit by Cardinals linebacker Chandler Jones attempting to throw a pass that fell incomplete. Winston played two more offensive series, completing three passes, but took himself out of the game because he did not feel he had enough velocity on his throws. …

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Koetter 'extremely' concerned with CB Vernon Hargreaves' play

Bucs cornerback Vernon Hargreaves makes a tackle against Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who had 128 receiving yards in the first half of Sunday's 38-33 win against Tampa Bay.

LOREN ELLIOTT | TIMES

Bucs cornerback Vernon Hargreaves makes a tackle against Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who had 128 receiving yards in the first half of Sunday's 38-33 win against Tampa Bay.

The Bucs now rank 31st in the NFL in pass defense, allowing 301 yards per game in their 2-3 start, and Dirk Koetter was asked Monday how concerned he is with the play of second-year CB Vernon Hargreaves.

"Extremely," Koetter said. "I'm concerned with everybody's play after the way we played the first half yesterday, but Vern is not in a very good streak of games right now. We asked Vern to be more aggressive this year with his coverage, and he started out doing that, in OTAs and training camp, but he has not played his best football these last three games."

Veteran CB Brent Grimes has played well on one side, getting another interception Sunday, but Hargreaves has struggled, dropping back to give a deeper cushion and allowing teams to throw consistently into his coverage.

"I don't think it's a confidence thing, but I'm not 100 percent sure on that," said Koetter, adding that it wasn't about preparation or ability. "We all have to play better. I have to coach better. I'm not trying to make this a Vernon Hargreaves bashing session. ... If we could just snap our fingers and fix stuff, it'd already be done. You wouldn't be asking me about it." …

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Jameis Winston shoulder injury is AC joint sprain

Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston throws during Sunday's loss at Arizona. He played only 15 offensive snaps before he left with a shoulder injury, which is reported to be a sprain of the AC joint, something he might be able to play through.

LOREN ELLIOTT | TIMES

Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston throws during Sunday's loss at Arizona. He played only 15 offensive snaps before he left with a shoulder injury, which is reported to be a sprain of the AC joint, something he might be able to play through.

The shoulder injury that Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston sustained in Sunday's loss to Arizona is an AC joint sprain, an injury he might be able to play through moving forward.

Winston left in the second quarter of Sunday's game and was replaced by backup Ryan Fitzpatrick. Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said after the game that x-rays were negative on Winston's shoulder but that an MRI on Monday would show whether there was any damage to the shoulder. Winston didn't go into detail about the injury, but said "I'll be back. Soon." The specifics of his injury were first reported by NFL Network.

The acromioclavicular joint is at the top of the shoulder and a sprain is a common football injury -- the severity of Winston's reported sprain is unknown, but they're graded from 1 to 6 and for him to be in a position to play this week, it would likely be a minor sprain, with only a minor sprain or partial tear of the three ligaments connected to the joint. Compared to some of the potential diagnoses from a shoulder injury, it could be taken as good news for Winston's recovery timetable. …

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Four drives, 316 yards: How Bucs fell behind 24-0 to Cards

Cardinals running back Adrian Peterson runs through the Bucs defense in helping Arizona to a 24-0 halftime lead Sunday.

LOREN ELLIOTT | TIMES

Cardinals running back Adrian Peterson runs through the Bucs defense in helping Arizona to a 24-0 halftime lead Sunday.

Entering Sunday's game with the Bucs, the Arizona Cardinals hadn't scored more than 23 points in any game this season, and hadn't scored more than 18 since their season opener. They would cover that in a hurry against Tampa Bay.

"We cannot, cannot, cannot give people that big of a lead," defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. "This is the NFL. You can't do it. You can't do it."

It was telling that Arizona won the coin toss and elected to receive, wanting to set the tone rather than defer to the second half as most teams do. If there were questions about Adrian Peterson, acquired for a low-round pick from the Saints this week, then they were answered on the opening drive. Peterson had runs of 8, 8 and 11 yards, then a 27-yard touchdown for a stunning 7-0 lead, going 75 yards on six plays.

The next drive, a full 86 yards, was Carson Palmer's, with 29 yards to Larry Fitzgerald, 15 to John Brown, and finally a 14-yard throw to tight end Troy Niklas. Arizona's up 14-0, they've only gone to third down once and the Bucs have one first down. …

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