Here is what you need to know about what happened at One Buc Place on Wednesday December 18:
PRACTICE CONDITIONS• Tampa Bay began practice at 11:20 a.m. under partly sunny skies and cool temperatures around 60 degrees.
BUCS INJURIES• Head coach Greg Schiano started off his daily press conference updating the media on the team’s injuries.
“From a health standpoint, we had some guys that were limited as we have in the past weeks with [guard] Davin Joseph doing parts, [wide receiver] Vincent Jackson doing parts, [safety] Mark Barron has a hamstring [injury],” Schiano said. “You guys, I think, have been made aware about [wide receiver] [Russell] Shepard being put on the IR, which is unfortunate, he’s really been a critical special teams player for us, again, that’ll be a big loss really on all four teams. He’s been a heck of a player so we’ll have to have to have someone step up there or some ones step up there.”
ROSTER MOVESThe Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced on Wednesday that they have placed wide receiver Russell Shepard on Injured Reserve. The team also announced today that wide receiver Tommy Streeter has been signed to the practice squad. Additionally offensive lineman Richard Clebert has been released from the practice squad.
THE BIG NEWS AT ONE BUC• On Monday, a report by FOX Sports 1’s Mike Garafolo said that current Bucs’ offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan was a candidate for the vacant head coaching position at Army, where Sullivan graduated and also was an assistant coach.
PewterReport.com started of Sullivan’s weekly press conference by asking him about the report.
“There is an appropriate time and place for all those type of answers to those questions and I think right now, especially given where we’re at offensively, and some of the challenges that we have and what faces us this Sunday in St. Louis, if we could, I would like to just center our questions and focus on the Rams,” Sullivan said. “Certainly, I’m sure there are plenty of questions you guys have for the offense and on some of the issues that we’ve had which are well documented, so hit me with your best shot.”
Tampa Bay is currently ranked 32nd in the NFL in total offense after setting franchise records in last season. The offense has been beset with injuries in addition to starting a rookie quarterback in Mike Glennon. There has been some speculation among the media that if Schiano keeps his job then there could be some staff shakeups. While the entire staff is on the hot seat, Sullivan’s seat may be the warmest.
• Tampa Bay’s next opponent, the St. Louis Rams, have one of the most feared front fours in the league led by Hall of Famer Howie Long’s son Chris Long, and also right defensive end Robert Quinn, who leads the NFL in sacks.
But Quinn doesn’t just get to the quarterback according to Schiano, he also forces turnovers.
“Well he’s got 15 sacks and seven forced fumbles, so that tells you something,” Schiano said. “He’s as good at tomahawk chopping the backside of the quarterback – you haven’t seen a guy do it with that effectiveness since L.T. [Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor]. L.T., I mean, used to “WHAP” and knock that ball out with a vicious tomahawk chop and [Quinn] is bringing it that way. I mean seven forced fumbles, think about that, that’s a lot of forced fumbles and what did he play 14 games? That’s pretty substantial for a defensive end.”
Bucs left tackle Donald Penn will be matched up against Quinn for the most part on Sunday, and talked about the Rams star pass rusher.
“He’s playing great football this year,” Penn said. “Compared to last year, he’s really come into his own, putting himself in that elite category. He’s playing good football. It’s good to go against this matchup after playing probably one of my worst games of the season last week against the 49ers. It’s good to kind of bounce back and try to redeem myself against a great pass rusher. “I think he’s becoming a much smarter player. Last year, I think he was just going in and playing. This year, you can tell, I think he’s putting in some film work, a lot of film work and studying the guys he’s going against and using what they do wrong to his advantage. He’s playing consistently. He’s playing great football. He’s really playing his butt off this year.”
Sullivan also has taken notice of Quinn and the Rams defense this week while watching film and developing Tampa Bay’s game plan.
“It is and I don’t say that in an, ‘Oh gosh, what am I going to do?’ That’s my job and so we have to find a way,” Sullivan said. “There are very specific things and it’s probably not unlike what a lot of teams will try to do, we just have to put our wrinkle on it and how we have things set up schematically, from a protection standpoint there are plays that you don’t want to call if he’s on the field. There are plays that you are going to make sure that you have set to him. There’sruns that you are going to want to do to go ahead and try to wear him down. But he’s a phenomenal talent, a great player. Mike Waufle, the D-line coach is tremendous. He’s done an excellent job with that whole unit and so it is a great challenge, but there’s no question something could look great schematically – ‘Wow, look at this big play,’ and we’re game planning earlier this week – ‘This play looks great.’ Well, as you look at it, it’s ‘A thousand one, a thousand two, a thousand three, a thousand four’ – forget about it. That’s just how it is. Things can look great down the field but if we can’t, and it’s, I don’t care who this is, it’s just tackle after tackle after tackle. So just to echo your sentiments, it is a challenge for sure.”
QUOTE OF THE DAY“Early on, we were all trying to learn. It was rough. But I think as the year progressed, we started to mesh a little better; guys started understanding weaknesses and strengths and we started playing well. We got some hands on balls, we started communicating a lot better. We had some breakdowns, but I think that comes with [the] first year guys [are] together. I think next year will be a whole lot better, but right now we’ve still got two more games left. We’re focusing on this week with the Rams, [trying to] get communication down, try to get turnovers still and just keep building.” – Bucs safety Dashon Goldson on the secondary’s inconsistencies at times this year
WHAT’S NEXT FOR TAMPA BAYThe Buccaneers return to the practice field on Thursday at 11:05 a.m. as they continue their preparation for their road trip to face the Rams on Sunday.
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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