O.J. Howard of Tampa Bay Buccaneers placed on IR

TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have placed tight end O.J. Howard on injured reserve, the team announced Tuesday.

Howard suffered ankle and foot injuries when he was tackled from behind in the second half of Sunday’s loss to the New York Giants. On the play, Howard’s ankle bent sideways.

He was able to leave the field under his own power but did not return.

A source said the ankle injury will not require surgery.

Howard, the Bucs’ first-round draft pick in 2017, finishes the season with 34 catches for 565 yards. His five touchdowns are tied with wide receiver Mike Evans for the team lead.

The Tampa Bay Times first reported news of the IR designation.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers to start Jameis Winston over Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. 49ers

TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will start quarterback Jameis Winston this week against the San Francisco 49ers, a source told ESPN on Monday.

Winston stepped in Sunday in the third quarter against the New York Giants after Ryan Fitzpatrick threw three interceptions, including a pick-six. Winston finished the game 12-of-16 for 199 passing yards, two touchdowns and an interception. The Bucs lost to the Giants 38-35.

“He played better,” coach Dirk Koetter said of Winston’s performance. “He got us into the end zone four straight times. … For the most part, he made good decisions with the football.”

It’s the fourth quarterback change the Bucs have made this year, including when Winston served a three-game suspension to start the season for a violation of the NFL’s personal conduct policy, stemming from an alleged groping incident involving a female Uber driver in Arizona in 2016.

Koetter acknowledged that the constant change has been disruptive for both quarterbacks.

“Of course. Both those guys would rather play the whole time,” he said. “How much has it been disruptive to everyone else? That’s difficult to say. Our quarterback play as been spectacular at times and not good enough at times. That’s just the story of where we’re at on offense right now.

“Almost every game, we get some beautiful, beautiful play at quarterback — some great throws, some tremendous decision-making, some beautiful adjustments — but other times, we’ve gotten some bad decision-making which has resulted in turnovers. That’s hurt our team.”

Much has been made about Winston’s $20.9 million option and the risk the Bucs run by playing him, should he get injured, but Koetter said that no one in the front office has directed him not to play Winston.

Koetter also said he was unsure whether the Bucs would get to a point this season where they’d stick to one quarterback.

“You’re asking me to predict the future, and unfortunately I can’t do that,” Koetter said. “I never go into it thinking it’s a week-to-week thing, but I think continuity is a cop-out. We’ve got capable quarterbacks. There’s no reason they can’t play consistent football. I’ve seen them do it. I know they can do it.”

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers OC Todd Monken to call plays against New York Giants

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Todd Monken will call plays Sunday against the New York Giants.

Head coach Dirk Koetter made the announcement Friday evening on his weekly radio show on 620 WDAE.

Monken had called plays this season up until the Bucs’ 16-3 loss to the Washington Redskins last week, which is when Koetter called plays for the first time this season. In that game, the Bucs had 501 yards of total offense but managed just three points.

Koetter had previously called plays for the Buccaneers as offensive coordinator in 2015 and as head coach in 2016-2017, but handed play-calling duties over to Monken during the offseason. That role continued into training camp and the preseason.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers game against former team New York Giants been ‘checked off’

Jason Pierre-Paul may not be hurt that the New York Giants traded him to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last offseason. He still found it “shocking” that all he received upon his exit were phone calls from general manager Dave Gettleman and quarterback Eli Manning.

Nothing from ownership as far as he’s aware, although a source said that Giants co-owner John Mara did try to reach out via text the day of the trade but did not hear back

“I wouldn’t say hurt. Just the fact that the only thing I got was a phone call. You know what I’m saying?” Pierre-Paul said on a conference call with reporters four days ahead of a return to MetLife Stadium, where the Giants host the Bucs. “I didn’t speak to no owners or nothing. Obviously, I gave a hard eight years with the New York Giants and won a Super Bowl there, and the only thing you get is a phone call. I wouldn’t say I was hurt but it was just shocking. You know what I mean?

“Honestly, I had this game checked off since I left there. Emotions running big. I’m coming, man. I’m bringing the house down.”

Jason Pierre-Paul, on facing the Giants

“At the end of the day this is a business league. At the end of the day, we have to do our jobs no matter what team we play for. You’re a football player, you’re a pro, so you’ve got to do your job to the best of your ability. That’s what I’ve been doing.”

Pierre-Paul has 8.0 sacks this season, almost matching his total from last year. He had 8.5 sacks in his final season with the Giants.

“Honestly, I had this game checked off since I left there,” Pierre-Paul said. “Emotions running big. I’m coming, man. I’m bringing the house down.”

Pierre-Paul said there is no chip on his shoulder, even after the Giants had signed him to a lucrative new deal under the previous regime a year earlier.

“Obviously, New York felt like I couldn’t get the job done,” he said. “I don’t know who makes those decisions but that was the decision that was made when I got traded.”

The 2010 first-round pick had an up-and-down run with the Giants. Pierre-Paul had 16.5 sacks and helped them to a Super Bowl victory during the 2011 season. He made a pair of Pro Bowls and later returned to play at a high level after his career seemed to be in jeopardy following a 2015 Fourth of July fireworks accident that cost him his right index finger and parts of several others.

Manning was the one player who did call Pierre-Paul after the trade. Pierre-Paul also received a text from long-snapper Zak DeOssie and heard from safety Landon Collins and several other teammates. And then it was off to Tampa Bay.

With the Bucs, Pierre-Paul says he’s “playing great ball, obviously.” He leads the team in sacks (8.0) and quarterback hits (13) and is also tied for the lead in tackles for a loss (9) on a defense that has struggled this season.

The Giants’ defense, which is ranked near the bottom/middle of the pack in most categories, has just 10 sacks this season. Only the Oakland Raiders have fewer. Rookie Lorenzo Carter leads the Giants with five tackles for a loss.

“Numbers speak for themselves. I can’t really say much, but I’m not even worried about the sacks and how much the Giants have on their team,” Pierre-Paul said. “Like I said, I’m just playing some great football and I’m just blessed to be getting the opportunity to keep on playing this game that I love. I’m going to walk away from it when I walk away from it, but until then, I’m just going to keep on being a great player that I am and obviously come Sunday, I’m going to go out there and do what I normally do, go 110 percent and just fly to the ball.”

Pierre-Paul faces a favorable matchup to do more damage against his former team. The Giants have allowed 32 sacks this season, and right tackle Chad Wheeler has struggled badly at times.

“I wouldn’t say licking my chops, but I know it’s a problem,” Pierre-Paul said. “But like I said, that’s not my problem. I’m on the Bucs and I’m doing a great job here and I’m loving it.”

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers waive kicker Chandler Catanzaro

TAMPA, Fla. — One day after kicker Chandler Catanzaro missed two field goals, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers waived him.

Catanzaro missed field goals of 30 and 48 yards in the Bucs’ 16-3 loss to the Washington Redskins on Sunday.

Catanzaro’s struggles have been well documented this season. He made 11 of 15 field goals (73.3 percent) — 31st in the league — and has missed four extra points (85.2 percent). He did, however, nail a 59-yard field goal in a 26-23 win over the Cleveland Browns — the longest overtime field goal in NFL history.

The Bucs signed Catanzaro this offseason to a three-year deal worth $9.75 million, with $3.75 million guaranteed. The Bucs went through two kickers last season with Pat Murray and Nick Folk, who had beaten out kicker Roberto Aguayo, a second-round draft pick by the organization in 2016.

The Buccaneers have had nine different kickers since 2009, which is tied with the Chargers for the most in the league, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

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Buccaneers cut kicker Chandler Catanzaro

TAMPA, Fla. — One day after kicker Chandler Catanzaro missed two field goals, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have cut him, sources told ESPN.

Catanzaro missed field goals of 30 and 48 yards in the Bucs’ 16-3 loss to the Washington Redskins on Sunday.

Catanzaro’s struggles have been well-documented this season. He made 11 of 15 field goals (73.3 percent) — 31st in the league — and has missed four extra points (85.2 percent). He did, however, nail a 59-yard field goal in a 26-23 win over the Cleveland Browns — the longest overtime field goal in NFL history.

The Bucs signed Catanzaro this offseason to a three-year deal worth $9.75 million, with $3.75 million guaranteed. The Bucs went through two kickers last season with Pat Murray and Nick Folk, who had beaten out kicker Roberto Aguayo, a second-round draft pick by the organization in 2016.

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DeSean Jackson of Tampa Bay Buccaneers unhappy with current role in offense

In his first time talking publicly since the NFL trade deadline, Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson wouldn’t confirm or deny that he went to general manager Jason Licht asking to be traded. But he did indicate that he hasn’t been as happy lately.

“Hey, man, whatever them conversations were, that was between us,” Jackson said, flashing a smile. “It’s over and done with now. We’re moving forward. We’ve got eight games left to continue to do our best to try and get in the playoffs and try to go on a run here.”

The Bucs are 3-5 heading into Sunday’s game against the Washington Redskins — Jackson’s former team.

“I can’t say I’m as happy. I’m not winning. I’m not being as productive. For me to sit here and say I’m happy with that, I’d be lying to you,” Jackson said. “It’s a competitive sport, a competitive nature, we’re all professionals. Everyone gets paid to do a job and do it at [our] best. I don’t feel we’ve been doing that the past couple of games, at our best, with what we’re capable of doing with the talent in this locker room.”

Jackson indicated on Twitter in recent days that he wasn’t happy with his number of targets. He has always been known as a vertical threat, which is primarily how the Bucs use him. At times, they also use him on plays like end-arounds, but his speed hasn’t necessarily been used on things like gadget plays — such as what the Carolina Panthers did last week under Norv Turner, or what the Bucs saw several weeks ago with the Chicago Bears. The Bucs’ offense doesn’t use a ton of motion.

“In my eyes, how I see it, is obviously not how the offensive coordinator or the coaches probably see it,” Jackson said. “That can be a selfish question to answer, but I know what I’m capable of bringing to the team. I know what I can do as far as big plays and explosiveness, and I know what that does to other guys. It just sparks energy.”

Jackson opened the season leading the NFL with 275 receiving yards and three touchdowns in Weeks 1 and 2. In six games since, he has averaged 58.5 receiving yards per game, although that number was slightly skewed after a 112-yard performance against the Bears in Week 4.

In Weeks 1 and 2, Jackson was targeted on 26.5 percent of his routes run. In Weeks 3-9, he has been targeted 20.9 percent — fourth on the team. It’s not a quarterback thing either. Ryan Fitzpatrick has targeted Jackson on 22.8 percent of snaps this year; Jameis Winston targeted him on 20.7 percent of snaps.

Jackson’s 32 snaps (48 percent) last week were fourth among Bucs receivers. He mustered two catches for 32 yards.

“The frustration is just knowing what’s in this locker room, knowing the players we have, all across the board and knowing how talented it can be,” Jackson said. “It did show early on. That’s the frustration. Not being able to have the results the past three or four games, whatever that number is. That’s been more the frustration with me. It’s not individual.”

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Tales of ‘Fitzmagic’: ‘He’s going to make something happen’ – Tampa Bay Buccaneers Blog

TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will resurrect “Fitzmagic” for at least one week, with coach Dirk Koetter naming Ryan Fitzpatrick the starting quarterback against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday (1 p.m. ET, Fox).

For those who have experienced Fitzmagic on a personal level — long before beards were flying off the shelves of costume stores and tracksuits and gold chains became Tampa’s most desirable accessories — they think it’s real and it should continue.

Here are some of their tales:

‘What the hell do we have here?’

Harvard football coach Tim Murphy got his first glimpse of Fitzmagic during Fitzpatrick’s freshman year in 2001. In a blowout game at the beginning of the season, Murphy put in Fitzpatrick — who had risen from the No. 5 to No. 2 quarterback spot quickly — so he could gain some experience.

“We were up by a couple scores. We wanted to get our first-string quarterback out of there; we wanted to get Fitzy in,” Murphy said. “A conservative four-minute drill — run the football, run the clock, get out of there; keep our first-string quarterback in one piece.”

The first play Murphy called was “41-48 Nevada.” Fitzpatrick was supposed to fake a handoff to the running back out of a pistol formation and then run a naked bootleg the other way. The idea was for the defense to bite hard on the run fake to clear an easy path for the quarterback.

“I just said, ‘Hey, here’s the deal. Don’t go out of bounds. Don’t take a hit. Ball security. Just make sure you slide and keep the clock going,” said Murphy, who said the play went off without a hitch until the safety picked it up at the last second. Fitzpatrick lowered his shoulder and went barreling forward.

“He hits the safety so hard that they had to stop the game for 10 minutes,” Murphy said. “I turned to one of my assistants and said, ‘What the hell do we have here?’ And the rest is history.”

‘He’s one of the best teammates I ever had’

For Dorin Dickerson, who played with Fitzpatrick with the Buffalo Bills in 2012 and through the 2013 preseason, it wasn’t about what the quarterback did on the field as a player, but what he did as a teammate.

“I was a smaller, fast tight end that was before my time, so it was always a struggle [to stick around],” Dickerson said. “Cut day was always a very nerve-wracking day for me.”

So when one of the veteran players told Dickerson, “You know Fitz went up to the GM [Buddy Nix] and [coach] Chan Gailey and really vouched for you and vouched to keep you here,” he was speechless.

“I was like, ‘Really?’ And he was like, ‘Yeah, he told them that he wanted you here, he wanted you around, he wanted you as a weapon, he really appreciates the way you play.’ He’s basically the reason I stuck around in Buffalo that year.

“From then on, I had total respect. That’s unbelievable for someone to do that, especially a starting quarterback,” Dickerson said. “He’s one of the best teammates I ever had.”

Fitzpatrick would always go to great lengths to ensure his teammates were loose and having fun.

Prior to a road game against the Arizona Cardinals in 2012, Dickerson was sitting in the hot tub, and without saying a word, Fitzpatrick hopped in.

“He just jumps in and I’m looking at him like, ‘What are you doing?’ And he was like, ‘What do you mean? I’m getting in the hot tub with you.’ And I’m like, ‘Well, you know, these are single hot tubs.’ And he goes, ‘Yeah, I know, we’re cool, we’re friends.'”

“And everyone was looking around like, ‘What is he doing?'” Dickerson said, laughing. “But that just describes Ryan Fitzpatrick. … I carried that mentality throughout the league, after I played in Buffalo. You can’t take everything so seriously.”

‘Fitz is so ahead of the curve’

For wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who played with Fitzpatrick with the New York Jets from 2015 to ’16, there’s more to Fitzpatrick than one magical play — although they shared many together. Marshall remembered the pair’s preparation together during the week and how much he learned from the quarterback.

“Fitz taught me the saying that the game is 80 percent mental and 20 percent physical,” Marshall said. “Fitz is so ahead of the curve. He knows what the defensive coordinator is going to do before he does it. He studies every tendency, every statistic. We all know he’s smart and his pedigree, where he comes from, but he truly uses all of it … and then he’s a playmaker.”

Marshall and Fitzpatrick connected on 148 passes for 2,089 yards and 17 touchdowns in two seasons. Marshall is not the least bit surprised Fitzpatrick has had similar success in Tampa.

“That’s exactly who Fitz is,” Marshall said. “You give him an opportunity, you give him some guys around him, and he’s going to make something happen.”

In 2015 against the New York Giants, Fitzpatrick fired a 9-yard touchdown pass to a leaping Marshall, tying the score with 15 seconds left. Fitzpatrick engineered three scoring drives in the fourth quarter and overtime to win 23-20, keeping the Jets’ playoff hopes alive.

“Every day was a great memory playing with Fitz,” Marshall said. “He made it fun, interesting — he challenged us. Every day was amazing with Fitz.”

— ESPN’s Brady Henderson contributed to this report.

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Jameis Winston hopes he’s part of Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ future

TAMPA, Fla. — Amid the speculation that surfaced as a result of his benching and what it means for his future, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston was asked Thursday if he sees himself as a member of the team a year from now.

“Yeah, hopefully,” Winston said, admitting that coach Dirk Koetter’s decision to start Ryan Fitzpatrick against the Carolina Panthers this week caught him off guard.

“I didn’t expect it, but one thing about me [is that] I can be honest with myself in terms of playing on the field,” Winston said. “Turnovers — if you turn the ball over in college, high school — it puts your team in a bad position to win and we need to win as a team, so I can definitely understood why Coach Koetter went with Fitz.”

Winston threw four interceptions against the Cincinnati Bengals last week before he was pulled late in the third quarter. In four games and three starts this year, he has thrown 10 interceptions. He threw 11 in 13 games last season. The Bucs (3-4) are 1-2 in games he started in 2018.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been benched. … It’s humbling,” said Winston, a Heisman Trophy winner in 2013 and the first overall draft pick in 2015. “It’s something I can learn from and grow from, and it just adds to the story. Every year my job is to get better and better and right now, I’m not getting the job done. I have been replaced and I’m moving forward.”

Neither Winston nor Koetter can pinpoint what exactly has caused Winston to struggle, including if it is the fact that he spent three weeks away from the team while serving a suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy.

“If I knew exactly why, then I’d do everything I could to try to fix it. We wouldn’t be where we’re at right now,” Koetter said. “It’s just becoming a little bit too much of a trend. … We have plenty of other issues, including coaching, [but] we just can’t lose the turnover [battle] 7-0 in the last two games. We just can’t do that and expect to win.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever been benched. … It’s humbling. It’s something I can learn from and grow from, and it just adds to the story. Every year my job is to get better and better and right now, I’m not getting the job done. I have been replaced and I’m moving forward.”

Jameis Winston

Koetter’s decision was made easier by Fitzpatrick’s stunning play to open the season, throwing for 1,230 yards, 11 touchdowns and 4 interceptions and completing over 70 percent of his passes in Weeks 1-3.

“A lot of teams don’t switch because they have an untested backup or they’re afraid to put their backup in there, and we don’t have either of those [issues],” Koetter said.

As far as how Fitzpatrick is treating the chance to start again, he said he won’t be looking over his shoulder Sunday, fearing he may be pulled if he struggles.

“Whether it’s warranted or not, as much confidence I have in myself, that’s not something I really think about,” said Fitzpatrick, who noted that he was benched three times with the New York Jets in 2016. “Especially with the quarterback position, it’s performance-based. If you play well, you’re gonna be out there. If you don’t, you’re not. I understand that part of it as well as anybody in the league probably.”

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Vita Vea of Tampa Bay Buccaneers doesn’t have torn ACL

An MRI performed Monday on Tampa Bay Buccaneers first-round draft pick Vita Vea‘s knee showed his ACL was intact, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The team had feared that the rookie defensive tackle had torn his ACL in Sunday’s 37-34 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

Vea, selected 12th overall by the Buccaneers in the 2018 draft, didn’t make his season debut until Week 4 against the Chicago Bears because of a strained calf muscle.

He has two tackles in four games (two starts) this season.

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