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Greg Auman, Times Staff Writer

Greg Auman

Greg Auman has been at the Tampa Bay Times since 1999 and has covered the Bucs and the NFL since 2013. He covered the University of South Florida's athletic department from 2004-13.

Phone: (813) 226-3346


Blog: Bucs Beat

Twitter: @GregAuman

  1. Bucs' Jameis Winston rising in fantasy football rankings


    We're still probably three months away from most fantasy football drafts, but it's not too early to appreciate that Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston has taken a major step up in the rankings entering his third NFL season.

    Winston is the first quarterback in NFL history to pass for 4,000 yards in each of his first two seasons, and much of the buzzz surrounding him is the upgrades made around him in the offseason -- the Bucs signed veteran receiver DeSean Jackson and drafted Alabama's O.J. Howard in the first round. As a result, Winston is being seen as a top-10 fantasy quarterback....

    Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston is ranking much higher in fantasy football rankings entering his third NFL season.
  2. J.R. Sweezy already building reputation on Bucs' line


    J.R. Sweezy has yet to have the first practice in pads with the Bucs, but in advance of next week's start of OTAs, he's already building a reputation as bringing some nastiness to Tampa Bay's offensive line.

    It started last month, when Ali Marpet said Sweezy has "a little bit of a mean streak" -- he went so far as to call him a "jerk," later settling on "gritty" as the adjective of choice. Offensive line coach George Warhop continued that sentiment Thursday, saying that Sweezy -- who missed all of last season recovering from back surgery -- brings the same toughness that Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins brought in 2014-15....

    J.R. Sweezy missed all of last season recovering from back surgery but is already establishing himself with a physical reputation on the Bucs' offensive line this spring.
  3. Bucs defense 'multiple,' but staying in 4-3 base, coach says


    Just to put to rest any speculation that the Bucs could be shifting to a 3-4 defense this fall, defensive line coach Jay Hayes reiterated Thursday that while Tampa Bay will continue to have multiple looks defensively, they'll do it from a 4-3 base.

    "I don't know who (is) speculating that," Hayes said. "We have the potential to do a lot of multiple things. Smitty (DC Mike Smith) has always had multiple packages. Is there a chance we could have a look that looks like a 3-4? Potentially, sure. For us to wholesale change and be a 3-4, I don't see that happening. We're always going to be a multiple front."...

    Bucs defensive end Noah Spence has lowered his percent body fat but isn't any lighter entering his second NFL season, according to defensive line coach Jay Hayes.
  4. O-line coach in full support of Bucs tackles Smith, Dotson


    As much speculation as there was in mock drafts that the Bucs might use their first-round pick on an offensive tackle, Bucs offensive line coach George Warhop was unwavering in his support for left tackle Donovan Smith and right tackle Demar Dotson.

    "I saw that. I'm like 'Really?'" Warhop said Thursday as assistant coaches talked with reporters during offseason conditioning. "Unless they know something I don't."...

    Bucs tackle Donovan Smith took part in the annual "Turkey Time for the O-Line" event before Thanksgiving last year, providing meals to 1,000-plus families.
  5. Teen who burglarized Gerald McCoy's house gets 5 years in prison


    The teenager who was charged with the armed burglary of Gerald McCoy's home, injuring the Bucs' player's father hours before a game in November, has been sentenced to five years in prison in a plea agreement related to six other felony charges against him.

    Justin Frazier, 18, of Wesley Chapel entered into a "best interest" plea agreement May 3, with credit for 180 days already served in jail, according to court records. He was facing a combined nine felony charges from six incidents, though the largest came in the burglary that fractured the wrist of McCoy's father Nov. 3....

    Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy expressed forgiveness last fall for the teenager who burglarized his home and injured McCoy's father.
  6. DE Jacquies Smith signs contract with Bucs for 2017


    It's largely a formality, but defensive end Jacquies Smith, who had 13.5 sacks for the Bucs in 2014-15 but tore his ACL in last year's season opener, has signed his restricted free agent tender and is under contract with Tampa Bay for 2017.

    Smith, 27, is expected to be healthy for the start of the season and part of an upgraded Bucs defensive line in what will be a contract year for him. The Bucs took a gamble by giving Smith the lowest RFA tender at $1.8-million, and while the 49ers brought him in for a visit, they made no offer and the Bucs got him back for another season....

    Bucs defensive end Jacquies Smith had 13.5 sacks in 2014-15 and should return healthy this fall after missing nearly all of 2016 with a knee injury.
  7. Purdue DE Evan Panfil turns tryout into contract with Bucs


    In past years, the Bucs have taken three or four tryout players from rookie minicamp and rewarded them with free-agent contracts, but this year's class netted only one such prize, and former Purdue defensive end Evan Panfil is thankful to have that small chance at making the team's final roster this fall.

    "I was just really grateful for the opportunity even to try out -- I'm really excited," said Panfil, who led the Boilermakers with 12 tackles for loss and five sacks last season. "My time in Tampa was awesome, from the coaches I met and some of the other players, the facility, the whole thing was a first-class experience. I couldn't be more pleased."...

    Former Purdue defensive end Evan Panfil was the only tryout player to earn a free-agent contract from Bucs rookie minicamp.
  8. Back home in Florida, Jonathan Moxey hopes to stick with Bucs


    Boise State cornerback Jonathan Moxey is trying to make the Bucs' roster this fall as an undrafted rookie, and one of the reasons he chose to sign with the Bucs was a close look at their cornerbacks, and specifically, their height.

    "They don't shy away from smaller corners -- they have 5-9, 5-10, 5-11 corners on their roster," said Moxey, himself listed at 5-10 and 188 pounds. "They won't discriminate based on height."...

    Bucs rookie cornerback Jonathan Moxey was a three-year starter at Boise State, and now is one of three former Broncos in Tampa Bay's current rookie class.
  9. Bucs cast as underdogs with longest odds to win NFC South


    As much as you're hearing some NFL experts picking the Bucs as a playoff team in 2017, the oddsmakers in Las Vegas continue to undervalue Tampa Bay.

    Just as season over/under lines have had the Bucs with a modest 8 or 8.5 wins this fall (after going 9-7 last season), the Bovada sports book put out opening lines for each NFL team to win its division, and the Bucs ... have the longest odds in the NFC South....

    Jameis Winston calls a play during the Bucs' game against the Saints in December in New Orleans.
  10. Three Bucs headed to NFLPA Rookie Premiere


    The NFLPA's Rookie Premiere event in Los Angeles is essentially a big photo shoot -- each year, the league brings 40 of its top rookies together for a weekend where they can be photographed in their new NFL uniforms, so trading cards this summer can show them in their new gear even though they won't play until August.

    Like trading cards these days, the event is heavily skewed toward your fantasy football positions, so lots of quarterbacks, running backs, receivers and tight ends. The Bucs will have three rookies at the event in tight end O.J. Howard, receiver Chris Godwin and running back Jeremy McNichols -- that's as many as any team in the NFL, with only the Steelers and Giants matching them at three players each. The Bucs have as many players there as the rest of the NFC South combined -- the Panthers have running back Christian McCaffrey and receiver Curtis Samuel, while the Saints have running back Alvin Kamara....

    Here's a 1996 Pinnacle rookie card for Bucs running back Mike Alstott -- nice to see him in uniform, but the background makes it clear it's from the NFLPA Rookie Premiere.
  11. Bucs seek big gain in converted tight end Cole Gardner


    Less than two years ago, Cole Gardner was a tight end at Eastern Michigan when his head coach asked him to be something bigger than himself.

    Gardner, now an undrafted rookie with the Bucs, had spent three years as a tight end, catching 10 passes and a touchdown, but had struggled to stay within a 6-foot-5, 250-pound frame.

    "'You're a good tight end, but we think you can be a special tackle," coach Chris Creighton told him. "You're essentially starving yourself on weigh-in days to try to keep a tight end weight. Think about that.' He came back and said 'I'm all in.'"...

    Bucs rookie lineman Cole Gardner has made the successful transition from tight end to tackle in just two years.
  12. Bucs' Noah Spence hopes to measure up to teammates' praise


    TAMPA — The great expectations for Bucs defensive end Noah Spence started last month, when Gerald McCoy said he has a "breakout year" ahead in his second NFL season. Then teammate Robert Ayers said Wednesday that Spence could be "a 15-plus sack guy," an impressive leap from his 61/2-sack rookie year.

    Spence isn't making any specific goals for 2017, but he's not shying away from the confidence his teammates have in what he's capable of doing....

    Bucs defensive end Noah Spence, left, says he has lost some weight and, more importantly, a percentage of body fat.
  13. Bucs' Noah Spence trim, healthy as 2nd season looms


    The great expectations for Bucs defensive end Noah Spence started last month, when Gerald McCoy said he had a "breakout year" ahead in his second NFL season. Then teammate Robert Ayers said Wednesday that Spence could be "a 15-plus sack guy," an impressive leap from his 5.5-sack rookie year.

    "We all have expectations for each other. We all have expectations for ourselves. It's all on what you do on the field, not what you say you're going to do. I want to go out and prove it," said Spence, 23 and just a year removed from going in the second round to the Bucs after playing at Ohio State and Eastern Kentucky. "I'm just going to go out and try my best to help contribute to the team as best I can."...

    Bucs players DaVonte Lambert, left, and Noah Spence take part in the ribbon-cutting Friday morning for a new track at West Tampa Elementary.
  14. Bucs sign Purdue DE Evan Panfil to contract after minicamp


    The Bucs have signed one of their tryout players from last week's rookie minicamp to a contract, announcing on Thursday the addition of defensive end Evan Panfil of Purdue.

    Panfil, 22, led Purdue with 12 tackles for loss as a senior and tied for the team lead with five sacks. He's 6-foot-4 and 280 pounds and gives the Bucs a total of 14 undrafted rookies on their 90-man roster.

    The Bucs have good depth at defensive end, with Will Gholston and Robert Ayers back as starters and second-year pro Noah Spence poised to improve on a solid rookie season. Tampa Bay will get players back healthy after extended absences last year -- Jacquies Smith played only one snap and George Johnson missed the entire season and will compete for backup spots. Ryan Russell, who stepped in after the injuries last season, is also back, as is second-year pro DaVonte Lambert and undrafted rookie Deondre Barnett....

  15. McClain signing sets up battle for Bucs' last DB jobs


    The Bucs' signing of veteran cornerback Robert McClain on Wednesday adds experience and depth to the Tampa Bay secondary, but also sets up a number of battles -- for roles on the field and jobs on the final roster -- with training camp still more than two months away.

    Defensive coordinator Mike Smith, who coached McClain for three years with the Falcons, said the impetus was to add experience to the Bucs' cornerback depth, as most of the options beyond starter Brent Grimes have two years or less in the NFL....

    Bucs cornerback Jude Adjei-Barimah, shown last season, has new competition for the nickel defensive back job in veteran Robert McClain, signed on Wednesday.