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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Koetter: Jameis Winston will test shoulder in practice Friday

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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Jameis Winston injures throwing shoulder, Bucs concerned

Jameis Winston knew something was wrong with his right throwing shoulder. He was hit by linebacker Chandler Jones trying to complete a pass on third down in the first series of the game in the Bucs’ 38-33 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

He came off the field holding his right arm straight to his side. He talked to trainers. He made some warmup tosses to Ryan Fitzpatrick. He sat down. He made a few more.

He came back into the game and completed his next three passes for 39 yards. But Winston left after one series into the second quarter when he threw incomplete on three consecutive passes.

“When I started warming up on the sidelines, that’s when I felt it,’’ Winston said. “I tried, I tried to battle it out and I guess sitting on the sideline only makes it worse and it stiffened up. That’s all.

“I fell on my shoulder. Yeah, I’ve done had that injury before. If it was in my other shoulder, it would’ve been fine but the throwing shoulder is kind of tough.’’

Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said x-rays were negative on Winston’s shoulder but he will undergo an MRI on Monday. …

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Winston hurts throwing shoulder, Bucs fall 38-33

Quarterback Jameis Winston hurt his right throwing shoulder and was forced to leave the game in the second quarter of the Bucs’ 38-33 loss to the Arizona Cardinals Sunday.

Suddenly, a Bucs season so drunk with promise showed signs of withering in the dry Arizona desert.

Winston became injured when he tried to extend a play on the first series of the game and took a hit from Cardinals linebacker Chandler Jones. He came off the field holding his arm straight to his side. He talked to trainers. He made some warmup tosses to Ryan Fitzpatrick. He sat down. He made a few more.

He came back into the game and completed his next three passes for 39 yards. But Winston left after one series into the second quarter when he threw incomplete on three consecutive passes.By then the Cardinals had built a 21-0 lead. They it 31-0 by the start of the third quarter.

The Bucs defense never put up a fight despite the return of starters Lavonte David and T.J. Ward. …

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Winston sidelined with shoulder injury with Bucs down 24-0

Bucs QB Jameis Winston takes the field before Sunday's game at Arizona. He left the game in the second quarter with a shoulder injury.

LOREN ELLIOTT | TIMES

Bucs QB Jameis Winston takes the field before Sunday's game at Arizona. He left the game in the second quarter with a shoulder injury.

Adding injury to insult, the Bucs have lost quarterback Jameis Winston to a shoulder injury -- he's on the sidelines in the second quarter and doubtful to return, with backup Ryan Fitzpatrick taking over as the Bucs trail Arizona 24-0.

Winston went down awkwardly on his shoulder on the opening drive, attempting a third-down throw as he was being hit. He continued to play for two more series, and was 5-for-10 for 61 yards when Fitzpatrick took over.

Arizona dominated the Bucs defense early, getting touchdown drives of 75, 86 and 95 yards on their first three possessions. Carson Palmer opened the game 13-for-13 for 211 yards and two touchdowns, and running back Adrian Peterson has 85 yards and a touchdown on his 11 carries.

No immediate word was given on the severity of Winston's injury. We'll update as we gather more details.

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Lavonte David, T.J. Ward return as Bucs face Cardinals

Bucs safety T.J. Ward, shown earlier this season against the Bears, will return healthy against Arizona today after missing the last game with a hip injury.

WILL VRAGOVIC | TIMES

Bucs safety T.J. Ward, shown earlier this season against the Bears, will return healthy against Arizona today after missing the last game with a hip injury.

As expected, the Bucs are getting linebacker Lavonte David and safety T.J. Ward back from injuries as they play a key game against the Cardinals today.

David, who had missed two games with an ankle injury, and Ward, who missed the Patriots game with a hip injury, are both active against Arizona. The Bucs are still without four players sidelined with injuries: LB Kwon Alexander (hamstring), S Keith Tandy (hip), DE Ryan Russell (shoulder) and DB Josh Robinson (concussion). The other inactives are OT Leonard Wester and OC Joe Hawley, who have been inactive in all five games, and TE Antony Auclair, who has been inactive in four of five.

The Bucs will have rookie Justin Evans starting at safety in Tandy's place, though the team didn't announce whether Ward or Chris Conte would start at the other safety spot. The Bucs will count on rookie LB Kendell Beckwith to again step in for Alexander at middle linebacker for a fourth straight game.

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