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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

USA Today sees Bucs as 10-6 wild card team in 2017

Bucs DT Gerald McCoy tries to bring down Giants QB Eli Manning in a 2015 game. Tampa Bay and New York are both picked to finish 10-6 in USA Today's preseason predictions, both making the playoffs as wild cards.

Bucs DT Gerald McCoy tries to bring down Giants QB Eli Manning in a 2015 game. Tampa Bay and New York are both picked to finish 10-6 in USA Today's preseason predictions, both making the playoffs as wild cards.

Another day, another national outlet making NFL predictions, and this one is promising for Tampa Bay fans, as USA Today's Nate Davis has the Bucs going 10-6 and making the playoffs for the first time in 10 years, as a wild card.

"They seem poised to make their first playoff appearance in a decade after diversifying a lopsided offense with WR DeSean Jackson and rookie TE O.J. Howard," writes Davis, who still picks the Falcons to repeat as NFC South champs with a 12-4 record. "RB Doug Martin is apparently recharged, too, though he remains suspended for three games. They'll see Falcons twice and Packers once during Weeks 12-15." …

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Rays' Chris Archer voices support for Bucs' Gerald McCoy, who feels underappreciated

Ever since the Bucs made Gerald McCoy the third overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft, he has struggled to overcome the shadow cast by Pro Bowl defensive tackle Warren Sapp.

LOREN ELLIOTT | Times

Ever since the Bucs made Gerald McCoy the third overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft, he has struggled to overcome the shadow cast by Pro Bowl defensive tackle Warren Sapp.

Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is mad as hell and he's not taking it any more.

At least that's what he said during a brief rant on Twitter this morning.

McCoy, a five-time Pro Bowl player, took to social media to make his case that he's underappreciated in Tampa Bay and even suggested he might be gone 'soon enough.'

"They won't appreciate you until you're gone,'' McCoy tweeted. "Soon enough though. Then we'll see.

 

"No more being quiet. I'm done holding my tongue. Believe that!

 

"You try and try with people but they don't get it. They push you and push you until you cross that line. Well line crossed.''

 

It's unclear what or whom McCoy is referring to, but a likely candidate is former Bucs cornerback Ronde Barber, who also serves as the team's TV analyst during the preseason.

In a story in Sunday's Tampa Bay Times, Barber was asked about which players on the Bucs' were 'Badass,' a phrase used by coach Dirk Koetter to describe what he wants the identity of his team to be. …

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New Bucs player murals go up at Raymond James Stadium

Bucsquarterback Jameis Winston is back for a second year in a row with a corner mural at Raymond James Stadium.

GREG AUMAN | TIMES

Bucsquarterback Jameis Winston is back for a second year in a row with a corner mural at Raymond James Stadium.

Each summer, it's a sign that training camp is soon to arrive at One Buc Place: the changing of the huge player murals on each corner of Raymond James Stadium.

Fans driving on Dale Mabry Highway or Himes Avenue got a first look at the 2017 versions on Sunday, with a few new wrinkles. Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy has his own mural for the third year in a row -- on the northwest corner of the stadium -- and Jameis Winston has his own for the second straight year on the southwest corner.

What's new for 2017 is the murals on the east side have two players each -- linebackers Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander are on the northeast corner, and receivers DeSean Jackson and Mike Evans have the southeast corner.

It's always interesting to see which players the Bucs choose to display so prominently around their stadium. The only player gone from last year's murals is running back Doug Martin, which was to expected. This time last year, he was coming off a Pro Bowl season where he finished second in the NFL in rushing; this year, he's facing a three-game suspension and averaged just 2.9 yards per carry last season. …

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As training camp looms, Jameis Winston starts throwing

Bucs QB Jameis Winston throws the ceremonial first pitch before Sunday's Rays-Rangers game at Tropicana Field. The Bucs report to training camp this coming week, with the first practice set for Friday morning.

WILL VRAGOVIC | TIMES

Bucs QB Jameis Winston throws the ceremonial first pitch before Sunday's Rays-Rangers game at Tropicana Field. The Bucs report to training camp this coming week, with the first practice set for Friday morning.

The start of Bucs training camp is mere days away -- rookies report Tuesday, veterans on Thursday, with the first practice Friday morning -- and quarterback Jameis Winston wrapped up his offseason by throwing out the ceremonial first pitch (video here) before Sunday's Rays-Rangers game at Tropicana Field.

"What better way to kick off training camp than by throwing out the first pitch at a Rays game?" wondered Winston, a two-sport standout at Florida State, playing two seasons of baseball in addition to his football. "I'm ready to get on the bump and bring some heat."

Winston was part of the FSU-themed "Chop at the Trop" festivities on Sunday, spending time in the Rays clubhouse before the game and getting a quick hug from Evan Longoria before warming up and throwing a slightly outside pitch to Steven Souza. He also spent two days in Miami as a fan enjoying baseball's All-Star Game earlier this month, but said he's ready for football season to arrive.

"It's going to be great seeing the Buccaneers fans at training camp," he said. "I love this family atmosphere, and that's what we're trying to create in Tampa, seeing all of us come together and put on a show for them." …

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Bucs add top executive from MLS to business side

Atul Khosla, 38, spent the last six years as chief operating officer of MLS' Chicago Fire. He joins the Bucs as their new chief corporate development and brand officer.

CHICAGO FIRE

Atul Khosla, 38, spent the last six years as chief operating officer of MLS' Chicago Fire. He joins the Bucs as their new chief corporate development and brand officer.

The Bucs have hired a top executive from Major League Soccer to their business operations in Atul "AK" Khosla, who has spent the last six years as chief operating officer of Major League Soccer's Chicago Fire.

Khosla, 38, will carry the title of chief corporate development and brand officer with the Bucs. He was born in Oman, has an engineering degree from Wisconsin and an MBA from Northwestern, and worked 12 years with General Electric and NBC Sports before joining the Fire. He was recognized as one of Chicago's "40 Under 40" in 2013 by ChicagoBusiness.com.

In six years with the Fire, he set up the team's first local TV contracts, developed youth and rec soccer leagues around Chicago, built a $20-million practice facility and set up a program to subsidize bus travel from downtown to boost attendance.

"AK is a proven club executive that brings an extensive amount of knowledge in the areas of corporate development and brand management," said Brian Ford, the Bucs' chief operating officer. "He will be a great addition to our business side leadership team!"

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Bucs raise prices for single tickets to marquee games

Bucs fans cheer Jameis Winston after a victory in their final home game of the 2016 season. Individual tickets for the Bucs' three most coveted home games (against the Patriots, Bears and Giants) will cost more in 2017.

LOREN ELLIOTT | TIMES

Bucs fans cheer Jameis Winston after a victory in their final home game of the 2016 season. Individual tickets for the Bucs' three most coveted home games (against the Patriots, Bears and Giants) will cost more in 2017.

The Bucs will have single-game tickets for 2017 home games on sale July 28, with a new wrinkle: the best games will cost more for fans.

As an added incentive to buy season tickets or five-game miniplans, the Bucs will have higher individual ticket prices -- $70 for the least expensive upper-level seats instead of the $50 rate by season passes -- for their three most coveted home games this season, against the Patriots, Giants and Bears. The remaining games will be at a higher cost -- $60 each as a starting point -- than what is available through season passes.

As reported earlier this week, the demand on the secondary market, especially for the Patriots game, has been impressively high, with the cheapest seats for Bucs-Patriots drawing $163 on Stubhub. The Giants game has seats starting at $94 and the Bears game at $78, so the highest prices on the resale market match the Bucs' highest tier. The higher prices include the Bucs' two preseason home games, where attendance is generally down -- last year's preseason opener against the Browns drew an announced 46,848, with an actual attendance of 35,298. …

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Jaguars DE Dante Fowler arrested in St. Petersburg

Former Lakewood and Gators star Dante Fowler, now with the Jaguars, was arrested Tuesday night in St. Petersburg on misdemeanor charges of simple battery and mischief.

Pinellas County Sheriff's Office

Former Lakewood and Gators star Dante Fowler, now with the Jaguars, was arrested Tuesday night in St. Petersburg on misdemeanor charges of simple battery and mischief.

Former Lakewood and Gators star Dante Fowler, entering his third season with the Jacksonville Jaguars, was arrested Tuesday night in his hometown of St. Petersburg on misdemeanor charges of simple battery and mischief.

Fowler, 22, was arrested by St. Petersburg Police at 9:02 p.m. Tuesday, and was released at 1:43 a.m. Wednesday on $650 bond.

The arrest report said that Fowler was driving in the Trellis at the Lakes apartment complex Tuesday night around 6:30 p.m. when a man walking in the complex made a comment about his driving. Fowler got out of his car, exchanged words with the man, then "hit the man, knocked his glasses off and stepped on them," according to the report. He then "took the victim's grocery bag, with recently purchased liquor, and threw it in a lake," according to the report, which said the victim was not injured.

The Jaguars issued the following statement Wednesday morning: "The Jaguars are aware of the situation involving defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. and are currently gathering more information. The team has been in communication with Dante. No further comment will be made at this time." …

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Tickets for Bucs-Patriots game in high demand

Patriots coach Bill Belichick talks with then-Bucs coach Greg Schiano during a joint practice in Tampa in 2012. New England hasn't played a regular-season game in Tampa since 1997, so there's high demand for tickets to this year's Oct. 5 game against the Bucs.

DANIEL WALLACE | TIMES

Patriots coach Bill Belichick talks with then-Bucs coach Greg Schiano during a joint practice in Tampa in 2012. New England hasn't played a regular-season game in Tampa since 1997, so there's high demand for tickets to this year's Oct. 5 game against the Bucs.

It's still likely another week or so until the Bucs put individual game tickets on sale for the upcoming season, but there's significant demand for the New England Patriots' first game in Tampa in 20 years.

Tickets for the Bucs' Week 5 home game against the Patriots -- that's on Thursday, Oct. 5 -- are selling for a minimum of $163 on Stubhub and $165 on Seatgeek, nearly double the asking price for any of the other seven home games. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady has never faced the Bucs in Tampa -- the only other time they would have, in 2009, the Bucs played a "home" game in London.

The Bucs, who already had season tickets available, put five-game mini-plans on sale Tuesday, giving fans another chance to get tickets without paying for all 10 home games. Judging by the interest on the secondary market, those Patriots tickets won't last long at all if they're offered up on an individual basis. …

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Bucs' O.J. Howard ranks 9th in NFL rookie jersey sales

Bucs tight end O.J. Howard, shown at his introduction, is among the NFL's top 10 selling rookies in jersey sales -- his No. 80 ranks ninth among rookies this year.

LOREN ELLIOTT | TIMES

Bucs tight end O.J. Howard, shown at his introduction, is among the NFL's top 10 selling rookies in jersey sales -- his No. 80 ranks ninth among rookies this year.

Bucs tight end O.J. Howard fell to No. 19 in the NFL Draft, but the former Alabama star now ranks among the NFL's top 10 rookies in jersey sales, according to data released by Dick's Sporting Goods.

Howard ranks ninth among NFL rookies in jersey sales -- he posed with No. 1 at his introduction but will wear No. 80 for the Bucs --and 86th overall among all NFL players.

The top selling Bucs jersey overall remains quarterback Jameis Winston, who ranks 36th overall in the report. Mike Evans is next at 80.

The site also has weekly rankings and oddly, new Bucs receiver DeSean Jackson is listed at No. 87 -- with the Redskins -- with his Bucs jersey not yet ranking in the top 100. Bucs running back Doug Martin is next at No. 88.

The most popular selling NFL rookie jersey is a cool story -- Steelers rookie running back James Conner, who battled Hodgkin's Lymphoma to return to football while in college at Pitt, is the No. 3 jersey in the entire league this year.

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Lee Roy Selmon leads 11 Bucs in SI all-time NFL draft

Lee Roy Selmon, Tampa Bay's first player to go to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, was easily the first Bucs player taken, going No. 31 overall.

Times files (1983)

Lee Roy Selmon, Tampa Bay's first player to go to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, was easily the first Bucs player taken, going No. 31 overall.

Sports Illustrated's Peter King came up with a cool idea to do an all-time NFL draft, with 12 people selecting the greatest 300 players in NFL history, and that draft included 11 players who spent time with the Bucs.

The late Lee Roy Selmon, Tampa Bay's first player to go to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, was easily the first Bucs player taken, going No. 31 overall, more than 100 picks before the next player with Tampa Bay ties. The Bucs' other two Hall of Famers, defensive tackle Warren Sapp and linebacker Derrick Brooks, went at 157 and 162, respectively. And John Lynch, who went into the team's Ring of Honor last year and has been close to joining them in Canton, checked in at No. 190.

The other seven played only one or two seasons with the Bucs -- you might not even remember them playing in Tampa Bay, but stop for a minute and think of who they might be. Darrelle Revis (2013) went at 142, Randall McDaniel (2000-01) went 171, Joey Browner (1992) went 227, Reggie Roby (1995) went 250, John Carney (1988-89) went 274, Tim Brown (2014 went 286 and Sean Landeta (1997) went 296. Former Bucs coach Tony Dungy was among 13 coaches picked as well. …

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Players Ink: Kwon Alexander remembers brother on his back

Bucs linebacker Kwon Alexander remembers his late brother Broderick, shot and killed in 2015, with a tattoo he added this weekend. He posted this photo to Twitter with the hashtag #RIHLILBRO.

TWITTER

Bucs linebacker Kwon Alexander remembers his late brother Broderick, shot and killed in 2015, with a tattoo he added this weekend. He posted this photo to Twitter with the hashtag #RIHLILBRO.

If you know anything about Kwon Alexander, you know how inspired and motivated the third-year Bucs linebacker has been by the tragic loss of his brother Broderick, who was shot and killed just days before a Bucs-Falcons game during Alexander's rookie year.

Alexander plays every game for his brother, and that tribute is now even more a part of who he is, after getting a tattoo over his entire back this weekend -- his brother is shown with angel's wings, looking down on Alexander in his Bucs uniform, pointing back to Brod. "All you wanted me to do is BALL," the tattoo reads, with a stadium full of fans and a bank of lights shining down on Alexander. His nickname, "Showtime," remains written along the top of his back, running from shoulder to shoulder.

"We all gotta story! #BRODS (world emojis) #RIHLILBRO" Alexander wrote on Twitter in posting a photo of the new tribute tattoo. …

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Jameis Winston's top leaders: Brady, Rodgers, Kuechly, Ray Lewis

Demoyne Stoney, 10, and Anthony Gonzalez, 11, pose with Jameis Winston after getting his new Sprayground backpack signed at International Plaza on Thursday. Stoney and Gonzalez, who play together on the Seffner Seahawks youth football team, waited four hours to be among the first in line for Winston's autograph.

GREG AUMAN | TIMES

Demoyne Stoney, 10, and Anthony Gonzalez, 11, pose with Jameis Winston after getting his new Sprayground backpack signed at International Plaza on Thursday. Stoney and Gonzalez, who play together on the Seffner Seahawks youth football team, waited four hours to be among the first in line for Winston's autograph.

As Jameis Winston continues to grow as a leader with the Bucs entering his third season, who are the other NFL leaders he admires and respects most?

"Everybody leads in their own way," Winston said Thursday before signing backpacks for fans at an event at International Plaza. "For me, as a leader, you have to continue to learn from everyone. Ultimately, you've got the (Tom) Bradys, you've got your Aaron Rodgers, you've got your defensive guys like Luke Kuechly, and one of my favorite leaders of all time in this game is Ray Lewis. Ray Lewis did it the best, with his passion and his drive to motivate his teammates."

Winston and the Bucs will face the first three of those this upcoming season, with Brady and the Patriots coming to Tampa, the Bucs going to Rodgers and Green Bay in December, and facing Kuechly's Panthers twice after pulling off a season sweep last season. It's a difficult schedule as the Bucs try to improve on a 9-7 mark that just missed the playoffs last season, but Winston said the schedule is actually one of the things he's most excited about as the 2017 season approaches. …

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Warrick Dunn: Jameis Winston is leading in community

Former Bucs running back Warrick Dunn, shown at a speaking event in Tampa in February, said Wednesday that he likes the way Jameis Winston is leading the Bucs and in his community.

ANDRES LEIVA | Times

Former Bucs running back Warrick Dunn, shown at a speaking event in Tampa in February, said Wednesday that he likes the way Jameis Winston is leading the Bucs and in his community.

You'd be hard-pressed to find a Bucs player who's been more synonymous with giving back to the community than former Tampa Bay running back Warrick Dunn, so it carries significant weight for him to say he's impressed by what Jameis Winston is doing as a leader and in the community.

"I think his leadership is there," Dunn said Wednesday while on NFL Network's "Good Morning Football" show. "Most people would say 'Well, he's immature.' When a kid is 19, 20 years old, they still have to grow. Over the last few years, he's really grown into a great leader for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Tampa Bay community. He's come into his own."

Dunn, like linebacker Derrick Brooks, took the same pipeline from Tallahassee to Tampa, and he said that what he saw from Winston in college has translated well to his success in his first two seasons in the NFL. …

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Brent Grimes tells SI he considered retiring, playing hoops

Bucs cornerback Brent Grimes celebrates his pick-six of Panthers QB Cam Newton in Tampa Bay's season finale last season.

LOREN ELLIOTT | TIMES

Bucs cornerback Brent Grimes celebrates his pick-six of Panthers QB Cam Newton in Tampa Bay's season finale last season.

The fact that the Bucs open the 2017 season in Miami will lend itself to several interesting storylines, not the least of which will be cornerback Brent Grimes going back to face the Dolphins, who he played for from 2013-15.

SI.com has an extensive profile on Grimes and his wife Miko, recapping their backstories and some of the friction in Miami while he was there. There are a few interesting new nuggets as well:

-- Grimes, who is 33 and is entering the second year of a two-year contract with the Bucs, pondered retirement in the offseason and playing in the NBA's developmental league. Grimes is athletic, to be sure, but also just 5-10, and there's no record of him playing basketball since high school, so it'd be a Tim Tebow-type crossover if he tried it.

-- As much as anything, mentioning basketball was an opportunity to contrast the NBA to the NFL -- Brent said "the NFL doesn't have a cool vibe," citing uniform requirements that "they make everyone look the same." …

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$1.8 billion: Forbes values Bucs as world's No. 47 sports team

The late Malcolm Glazer, who bought the Bucs for $192 million in 1995, is shown in 2003 talking to kicker Martin Gramatica. Glazer died in 2014, but his family still owns the Bucs, who are valued at $1.8 billion by Forbes.

JIM DAMASKE | TIMES

The late Malcolm Glazer, who bought the Bucs for $192 million in 1995, is shown in 2003 talking to kicker Martin Gramatica. Glazer died in 2014, but his family still owns the Bucs, who are valued at $1.8 billion by Forbes.

Forbes has released its annual ranking of the top 50 sports franchises in the world, and the Bucs check in at No. 47, with a valuation of $1.8 billion, up 19 percent from last year.

The magazine's NFL valuations came out last September, so that isn't news -- the only thing new is how the Bucs rank against other non-NFL franchises, which is largely the same. Manchester United, also owned by the Glazer family, is ranked No. 3 with a valuation of $3.69 billion, though that's only up 11 percent from a year ago. The Glazer family bought the Bucs in 1995 for $192 million, so sometime in the next year or so, the franchise will be worth 10 times what they paid for it 22 years ago.

Only four NFL teams have a lower value by Forbes' calculations -- the Saints, Bengals, Lions and Bills, with the last three the only NFL teams not to crack the top 50 overall. By Forbes count, the Bucs' franchise has grown from a valuation of $1.225 billion to $1.8 billion in just two years -- that's a 47 percent increase. By comparison, from 2009 to 2013, their value for the Bucs actually went down, from $1.085 billion to $1.067 billion, so a steady rise isn't always inevitable. …

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