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Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Mike Mayock: RB should be Bucs' priority with 19th pick

NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock held a conference call on Friday to talk about next week's NFL Draft, and he offered his insights on what the Bucs should do with their first-round pick, No. 19 overall.

"They've got to take some pressure off Jameis Winston ... 24 turnovers last year, too many," Mayock said. "They've got to help him with the run game. I think that's got to be their first priority."

Mayock said FSU's Dalvin Cook and Stanford's Christian McCaffrey "make sense at 19," but said he thinks McCaffrey will already be picked when the Bucs are up.

"Could Dalvin Cook be staring them in the face at (19)?" he asked. "I think he could be, and I think he needs to be in the conversation. ... At 19, does the tailback or running back make the most sense?"

Mayock said because of the age of cornerback Brent Grimes (turns 34 in July) and defensive end Robert Ayers (turns 32 in September), the Bucs must "continue to upgrade their defensive backfield" and "have to continue to look for edge rushers ... (and) upgrade that group."

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Patriots? Packers? What will toughest Bucs ticket be in 2017?

Thursday night's schedule announcement means that NFL fans finally have dates for Bucs games they've known were somewhere on the 2017 schedule months ago, so there's an initial rush of demand for tickets on the secondary market.

For now, any seats available are from fans who are splitting up their season tickets -- the Bucs are putting you on a watch list as we write this -- but there are plenty being sold, so you can already get a sense of what will be the most expensive seats to buy.

Of the eight Bucs home games, as expected, the Patriots -- who still haven't played in Tampa in the regular season under Bill Belichick and Tom Brady -- are the top-dollar draw so far, with tickets starting at $195 on Stubhub on Friday morning. The Giants, who played here just two years ago, aren't far behind at $154, with the NFC champion Falcons next at $105 -- all the rest are between $88-98 to start. …

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Beat Giants and Jets? Bucs have doubled up New York before

Cornerback Jeremiah Castille returns an interception in the Bucs' 41-21 victory over the Jets in 1984.

Times files

Cornerback Jeremiah Castille returns an interception in the Bucs' 41-21 victory over the Jets in 1984.

Last year's scheduling quirk saw the Bucs travel to California twice and win at both San Diego and San Francisco -- amazing, considering they'd been 4-24 in their history in regular-season games played in California before 2016.

This year's challenge? Can they beat both the New York Giants and the New York Jets in the same season? Both come to Tampa to play the Bucs -- the Giants in Week 4 on Oct. 1 and the Jets in Week 10 on Nov. 12.

(PRINTABLE 2017 BUCS SCHEDULE)

The Bucs have lost eight in a row to the Jets and five in a row to the Giants -- they're 1-10 all-time against the Jets. And yet, somehow, they've beaten both teams in the same season before. The 1984 Bucs, who went 6-10, beat the Giants 41-21 and the Jets 20-17, both in Tampa. …

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In Green Bay, in December? More on the Bucs in cold weather

Packers safety Charlie Peprah closes in on Bucs tight end Kellen Winslow during Green Bay's 35-26 victory in 2011.

Times files

Packers safety Charlie Peprah closes in on Bucs tight end Kellen Winslow during Green Bay's 35-26 victory in 2011.

So the Bucs are playing the Packers in Green Bay ... in December.

How cold is Lambeau Field likely to be on Dec. 3 when the Bucs play there? Last year, the Packers had a home game on Dec. 4 and at kickoff it was 32 degrees. Fahrenheit.

A few things to bring up: The Bucs haven't done well in cold weather historically -- they're 17-56 all-time (.233) when the temperature at kickoff is 49 degrees or colder, though they've won three straight games under such conditions -- at Kansas City last year, at Philadelphia in 2015 and at Washington in 2014.

(PRINTABLE 2017 BUCS SCHEDULE)

So most of the current Bucs have a winning record in sub-50 temperatures -- many don't even know the feeling of a defeat in such cold.

The Bucs have gone to Green Bay only twice since they stopped being division rivals in 2002, winning in 2005 and losing in 2011. They're 7-18 all-time at the Packers, though temperature plays a big role in that -- when it's 48 degrees or colder at kickoff, the Bucs are 1-10 at the Packers; when it's 49 or warmer, they're 6-8 all-time. Along those lines, the 2011 loss was in late November with 32-degree temperature, while the 2005 win was in September at 65 degrees. …

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Patriots at Bucs, Oct. 5: Five things to know, plus Tom Brady trivia

The Patriots are back in Tampa for the first time in the regular season since 1997.

AP photo

The Patriots are back in Tampa for the first time in the regular season since 1997.

The Patriots are coming to Tampa, with a national CBS audience tuning in on a Thursday in Week 5, Oct. 5 -- here are five things to know about that game and the two teams' history ...

-- The Patriots are back in Tampa for the first time in the regular season since 1997 -- since 2002, all AFC teams rotate in with trips to Tampa every eight years, but the 2009 Bucs-Patriots game was a "home" game played in London. As such, Bill Belichick has never beaten the Bucs in Tampa (in the regular season), despite an NFL coaching career that predates the Bucs by a year, to 1975.

(PRINTABLE 2017 BUCS SCHEDULE)

-- New England, of course, has had an amazing run under Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady, who both came to the Patriots in 2000. They've won at least 10 games every year since 2003 and have missed the playoffs just once -- in 2008, when Brady missed all but one game with injury and they still went 11-5. Since the Bucs' last playoff win in the Super Bowl in January 2003, the Patriots have won 22 playoff games, including four Super Bowls. …

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Schedule unveiled: Bucs learn their path for 2017

The Bucs' schedule is uniquely skewed with home games early and late in the year, creating a tough stretch in the middle of the season that has just two home games over a span of 66 days.

Times staff

The Bucs' schedule is uniquely skewed with home games early and late in the year, creating a tough stretch in the middle of the season that has just two home games over a span of 66 days.

The Bucs' 2017 schedule, released Thursday with the rest of the league, includes two high-profile showcase games, with Tom Brady and the defending champion Patriots coming to Tampa on a Thursday in Week 5 and the Bucs hosting the Falcons in a huge Monday night showdown the week before Christmas.

(PRINTABLE 2017 BUCS SCHEDULE)

The Bucs open the season on Sept. 10 at Miami, and in all, Tampa Bay's schedule is uniquely skewed with home games early and late in the year -- three of the first five are at home, as are three of the last four, creating a tough stretch in the middle of the season that has just two home games over a span of 66 days.

The schedule will be officially announced at 8 p.m. on NFL Network.

The NFC South has sent its champ to the Super Bowl in each of the last two seasons, and if the Bucs are to challenge for the division title, they'll need a strong finish, with three division games to finish the season -- the Monday against Atlanta on Dec. 18, a Christmas Eve game at Carolina and a season finale at Raymond James Stadium on New Year's Eve against New Orleans. …

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New name for Bucs' RB search: Oklahoma's Samaje Perine

Samaje Perine set the NCAA single-game rushing record in 2014 with a 427-yard, five-touchdown game against Kansas.

Getty Images

Samaje Perine set the NCAA single-game rushing record in 2014 with a 427-yard, five-touchdown game against Kansas.

We've written about how extensively the Bucs have invested time in potential second- or third-round running backs in this draft, and there's another name to add to the list: Oklahoma's Samaje Perine, who was on Pro Football Talk Live on Thursday and said the Bucs have shown the most interest of any NFL team in him.

Perine -- whose interest from the Bucs had not been previously reported -- said the Bucs not only worked him out on campus at Oklahoma but flew him to Tampa for a visit and time with the Tampa Bay coaching staff. The Bucs also brought in another Sooners running back in Joe Mixon as well.

Perine set the NCAA single-game rushing record in 2014 with a 427-yard, five-touchdown game against Kansas, and he topped 1,000 yards in each of his three seasons at Oklahoma, finishing with 49 touchdowns. His total yards and yards per carry both went down each year, but when he got the chance last season, he played well, rushing for 239 yards in a late-season win against Oklahoma State. …

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Ten things to know about Bucs and 'Hard Knocks'

The Bucs have been officially announced as the featured team for this year's edition of HBO's Hard Knocks, which goes up close and personal with one NFL team each year in training camp for five weeks of behind-the-scenes drama. The first show is Aug. 8 at 10 p.m., and five episodes will wrap up the Tuesday before the Bucs' season opener, which is Sept. 5.

Here are 10 things to know about the show and what to expect in training camp:

• It's a major operation. HBO and NFL Films will have a 30-person crew around the team and will shoot more than 1,500 hours of footage, which is culled down to five 55-minute episodes -- they say it works out to about 350 hours of material for each hour of actual programming. Every practice has six cameras, as well as 10 players and coaches who are miked up for audio. So there's lots to work with, leading to a crisply edited show each week. …

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Hard Knocks selects the Bucs, calls them a 'team on the rise'

On the day that Hard Knocks, the HBO sports reality series, announced they were going to training camp with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dirk Koetter’s reaction was reflective of most head coaches in the National Football League.

“I like watching the show,’’ Koetter said. “I wish I wasn’t on it.’’

But for five weeks, with the premier episode scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 8 at 10 p.m., the Bucs will be the focus of the award-winning series in conjunction with NFL Films.

Matt Dissinger, the director of the show for NFL Films, said the Bucs were chosen ahead of seven other eligible teams because they are considered an ascending franchise with young stars such as quarterback Jameis Winston. …

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Bucs' Josh Huff agrees to probation on gun charge

Bucs receiver Josh Huff has entered into a pretrial diversion program that will allow him to resolve a charge of unlawful possession of a weapon by completing six months of probation, his attorney said Tuesday night.

Huff, 25, was released by the Eagles in November after he was arrested in New Jersey on the gun charge. His attorney, Andrew Smith, said the gun was bought legally in his home state of Texas, where he has a permit to carry it, but he did not have a permit in New Jersey. If Huff completes a six-month probation period without incident, the charge will be dropped; he entered into the program April 4. Huff still faces a DUI citation for suspicion of being under the influence of marijuana, Smith said, but that charge has yet to be heard in local court. News of the agreement was first reported by TMZ Sports.

Huff played sparingly after being picked up by the Eagles, catching three passes for 41 yards and returning six kickoffs for 72 yards. He remains under contract and will compete for a backup receiver job this fall, as well as return duties.

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New radio home for Bucs games this fall: 97.9 FM

Bucs linebacker Lavonte David celebrates a sack of Carolina's Cam Newton.

LOREN ELLIOTT | Times

Bucs linebacker Lavonte David celebrates a sack of Carolina's Cam Newton.

The Bucs on Tuesday announced a new home for the radio broadcast of their games in 2017: 98Rock, or WTXB-97.9 FM. The move keeps the team in the IHeartMedia family but shifts the game broadcast away from WDAE 620-AM, where their weekly shows for players and coach Dirk Koetter will remain.

"We are thrilled to continue our longstanding radio partnership with IHeartMedia Tampa Bay," said Brian Ford, the Bucs' chief operating officer. "One of the most exciting aspects of this partnership is the ability to consolidate all of our gameday programming on 98Rock. Our fans will now be able to listen to the pregame shows, the game broadcast and the postgame shows, all on 98Rock's strong FM signal."

The Bucs will have seven and a half hours of programming on game days, including shows before and after the game itself. The broadcast crew will remain the same -- Gene Deckerhoff is back for his 29th season doing play-by-play, with former Bucs tight end Dave Moore back for his 11th year as color analyst and sideline reporter T.J. Rives back for his 13th year.

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Bucs' major announcement? 'Hard Knocks'

"The whole world gets to see how great of an organization this is,'' Jameis Winston says, "and see the great people that we have within the organization.''

LOREN ELLIOTT | Times

"The whole world gets to see how great of an organization this is,'' Jameis Winston says, "and see the great people that we have within the organization.''

It’s a Hard Knocks life for the Bucs.

All indications are that the HBO sports documentary series, in conjunction with NFL Films, has chosen to go to training camp with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The team has scheduled a news conference for 1 p.m. Wednesday for an undisclosed ‘major announcement.’

However, for the past several weeks, everyone from co-chairman Joel Glazer to general manager Jason Licht and head coach Dirk Koetter have been bracing – if not embracing – the inevitability that they would be chosen for Hard Knocks this year. Both Koetter and Licht will be available to the media Wednesday, the team said.

“I know I’d embrace it,’’ quarterback Jameis Winston said Monday when players reported to off-season workouts. “You’ve got to cherish the opportunity that you’ve got. The whole world gets to see how great of an organization this is and see the great people that we have within the organization. But our job is the play football. They add the glitz and the glamour and all that comes with it. It’s an amazing show, but we’ve got to play football. We’re out there doing it for the fans, we’re out there doing it for the city, and Hard Knocks – they’ll just show the whole world.” …

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Future uncertain, Doug Martin back working out with Bucs

Doug Martin was back at One Buc Place on Monday, reporting for the first day of offseason conditioning.

LOREN ELLIOTT | Times

Doug Martin was back at One Buc Place on Monday, reporting for the first day of offseason conditioning.

His future with the Bucs remains uncertain, but former Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin was back at One Buc Place on Monday, reporting for the first day of offseason conditioning and showing promising signs of getting back on track.

"He looks great. Right now, he looks as good as I've seen him since I've been here from a physical standpoint," said general manager Jason Licht, still pondering taking a back high in next week's NFL Draft. "He seemed to be in very good spirits and I'm excited to have him. I'm excited to see how he does out here in the OTAs."

Martin, 28, is in limbo because he's coming off a disappointing 2016 season, one that ended with a four-game suspension due to a violation of the league's performance-enhancing drug policy. He will miss the first three games of 2017, but the suspension also voided the guarantee on his 2017 salary, allowing the Bucs to release him with no salary-cap consequences if they want. He entered into a rehab center after the season and has shown the first signs of making a recovery on and off the field. …

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Jameis Winston: Dalvin Cook likely picked before Bucs at 19

You'd expect Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston to lobby for his former Florida State teammate, running back Dalvin Cook, to be the Bucs' first-round pick, but he went a step further Monday, suggesting Cook won't be around when the Bucs go on the clock at No. 19 next week.

"I'm excited for Dalvin, following him in his draft process," Winston said Monday as Bucs players report for the start of offseason conditioning. "Nineteen is our pick, and I honestly think he's more of a top-15 guy. I'm excited for him."

The Bucs have used high picks on FSU players in each of the last two drafts, taking Winston at No. 1 overall in 2015, then trading up into the second round to draft Seminoles kicker Roberto Aguayo last year. Asked about that trend, Winston said FSU's success in recent years makes them attractive to teams like the Bucs.

"We like winning around here, so we draft winners," Winston said. "My job is just to play. I have to do my job. I can't really focus on outside things, but it would be great to have another Seminole here."

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Bucs' Gerald McCoy: 'I haven't done enough to lead this team'

The Bucs have not reached the postseason since Gerald McCoy became the third overall pick by the team in 2010.

LOREN ELLIOTT | Times

The Bucs have not reached the postseason since Gerald McCoy became the third overall pick by the team in 2010.

Gerald McCoy says in the Bucs defensive meeting room there is a quote from L.A. Clippers coach Doc Rivers: Average players want to be left alone, good players want to be coached, great players want to be told the truth.

McCoy explained that he learned the truth about himself from three unnamed ‘credible sources,’ at the Pro Bowl in January who told him separately that in effect he hasn’t done enough in his seven seasons to lead the Bucs.

Specifically, McCoy said he was informed that he has not produced enough fourth quarter sacks to help the Bucs win football games. Tampa Bay has never reached the post-season since McCoy became the third overall pick by the team in 2010.

“It hit home to the point where I re-evaluated myself, my whole career, up to this point,’’ McCoy said. “It wasn’t devastating but it was a reality check. I wouldn’t have listened to them unless they were very credible sources and very successful in the things that they’ve done. I’m going to keep them nameless because it was a private conversation that happened between me and those other individuals. …

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