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Rick Stroud, Times Staff Writer

Rick Stroud

Rick Stroud covers the Bucs and the NFL for the Times. He joined the paper in 1983 after graduating from Arkansas St., where he played baseball. He has reported on national sporting events including more than 20 Super Bowls, the NCAA Final Four, and the Major League Baseball playoffs. While working as the beat writer assigned to the University of Florida at the Times, Stroud's stories documented NCAA rules violations by the football and basketball programs. He began covering the Bucs in 1990. Since then, the team has undergone seven coaching changes, the death of owner Hugh Culverhouse and the sale of the franchise to billionaire owner Malcolm Glazer and a stadium referendum and a Super Bowl XXVII victory. He co-hosts a sports talk show weekday mornings from 6-9 on WDAE 620-AM, 95.3-FM.



Blog: Bucs Beat

Radio talk show (620-AM, 95.3-FM): Listen live

  1. Good to be bad? Dirk Koetter's call for bold, brash Bucs


    TAMPA —The draft had just ended in April and the Bucs were celebrating a rookie class that included Alabama tight end O.J. Howard, who unexpectedly fell to them with the 19th overall pick. With camera lights glaring, coach Dirk Koetter was asked what he wanted the identity of his team to be....

    Is being a badass team all about swagger and toughness? "Our whole thing is about competing," Bucs coach Dirk Koetter says. (Loren Elliott | Times)
  2. Next up in Bucs renovations? A $20 million indoor practice facility


    TAMPA — Stormy weather often chased the Bucs indoors during their Super Bowl season in 2002. And by indoors, we mean in the upper level of a parking garage in an office building on the corner of Westshore Boulevard and Spruce Street. Some employees in the building were asked to move their vehicles. The ceiling was almost too low to pass, much less punt or kick....

    Renderings of the Bucs' new indoor practice facility (Courtesy of the Bucs)
  3. The people you meet along O.J. Howard Lane


    AUTAUGAVILLE, Ala. —The screen door hangs open to Laura's Country Kitchen but the dining room is empty with no one to feed.

    The abandoned one-story brick building is hidden in the brush, but there is no way to conceal the influence this place had on O.J. Howard.

    When he was young, Howard's days began before sunrise on the dirt road from his parents' trailer, walking past an artesian well and into his grandmother's restaurant on Blossom Road....

    OJ Howard (far right) is seen in a photo from his adolescent years at Bethesda Missionary Baptist Church in Prattville, Ala., on Wednesday, May 3, 2017. Howard served as an usher in addition to attending regular services at this church.
  4. Sapp pledges brain for concussion research


    TAMPA — Since being elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on the first ballot four years ago, Warren Sapp has traveled each August to Canton, Ohio, to join the game's greats returning for induction ceremonies.

    But with each passing year, it seemed too many of his fellow NFL players were in failing health and slipping further into a fog as a result of head injuries sustained during their careers....

    Warren Sapp, right, estimates that he had at least three concussions during his 13-year NFL career, possibly many more.
  5. Warren Sapp to donate his brain to concussion research


    TAMPA — Since being elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on the first ballot four years ago, Warren Sapp has traveled each August to Canton, Ohio, to join the game's greats returning for induction ceremonies. But with each passing year, it seemed too many of his fellow NFL players were in failing health and slipping further into a fog as a result of head injuries sustained during their careers."I said, 'I can't do this. I can't stay on the sideline and watch Tony Dorsett and Willie Brown and all the great ones deteriorate before my eyes,' " Sapp told the Tampa Bay Times on Tuesday....

    Warren Sapp talks to the media in July 2013, shortly before he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. [Times files]
  6. Three Bucs whose return from injury could have a big impact


    TAMPA — More than any other sport, availability is the most coveted ability in football. Spend too much time in the training room and you can not only lose a starting position, it can end your career.

    With that in mind, for several Bucs players, 2017 will serve as a comeback. They are sometimes forgotten players, but come September, they could be making a memorable impact....

    NEW ORLEANS, LA - OCTOBER 05:   Jacquies Smith #56 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on October 5, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
  7. Jameis Winston is 'aiming to be elite,' his head coach says


    Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston wrapped up his third NFL off-season Thursday and he is a far different player than the promising Heisman Trophy winner from Florida State who was the No. 1 overall pick in 2015.

    The biggest difference? Winston is now aiming to become elite, according to coach Dirk Koetter.

    "I would say Jameis is different in that he knows he can play in the NFL,'' Koetter said. "He knows he can be a successful player. Jameis, no one has higher expectations for his performance than he does. He's aiming to be elite, not just one of 32. And because he has such high expectations and we have high expectations, it's a never-ending process. We're hard on Jameis and he's hard on himself. Always improving but not where he wants to be.

    "What's changed is when you come into the league as a rookie, even though you had great success in college, you're playing with grown men no and there's just a lot more thrown at you. The disguise is so much different. The way the defense looks. He's been 32 NFL starts, so experience is the best teacher. We've talked about this before. But the Tom Bradys and Matt Ryans of the world have got a lot of reps on Jameis. We called practice early there. Jameis is the one guy in the huddle who wanted to keep going.''...

    "Jameis, no one has higher expectations for his performance than he does,'' Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said. "He's aiming to be elite, not just one of 32.''
  8. Why the Bucs are the NFL's offseason champions


    TAMPA — This concludes the offseason portion of the NFL schedule. We're here to crown a champion. It's the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. There's no champagne or confetti to commemorate the occasion. Kona Ice snow cones will have to do. How better to cool off the league's hottest team in June?

    That's how the Bucs celebrated becoming the new It team among pundits and HBO producers.

    It officially ended Thursday when Roberto Aguayo and Nick Folk combined to split the uprights with all four field goal attempts....

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston participates in the third day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Thursday, June 15, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  9. Toughest job may be managing expectations for the Bucs


    Expectations are good to have in the NFL. Following a 9-7 season in which they missed the playoffs by the third tie-breaker, the Bucs have become a popular pick to win the NFC South or even (gulp) a surprise team to reach the Super Bowl.

    More than ever, the Bucs have embraced the expectations and national attention will be racheted up soon with the start of HBO's Hard Knocks in training camp.

    But head coach Dirk Koetter spends a lot of effort making sure his Bucs players don't get over their skis. While admitting he has a good football team, he's quick to remind his team they haven't accomplished anything yet.   

    "We’ve got to control what we control. We can’t control – good or bad – what’s said,'' Koetter said. "The NFL’s popular. It’s great that you folks are here talking about us. It’s great that people nationally are talking about us. But there’s 31 other teams that got better. We’ve got to prove it on the field.

    "I talk to the guys about it all the time, constantly reminding them – I think you guys are making too much of the Hard Knocks deal. Hard Knocks isn’t going to affect us one way or another. Now, the fact that people are talking about us – hey, you want to be talked about. It beats the alternative. There’s going to come a day where we have to back it up. That day’s going to come on September 10th, the first time it’s going to really count. We’re aware of it. Is it in the back of our mind? Yes. But that still comes back to controlling the things that we have control of, don’t worry about the things we don’t.”

    Jameis Winston entering his third season, the addition of offensive weapons such as DeSean Jackson, rookie tight end O.J. Howard and receiver Chris Godwin are reasons for optimism, along with a defense that showed vast improvement the second half of 2016.

    But the NFC South is arguably the league's toughest division with the NFL's last two Most Valuable Players who led their respective teams to the Super Bowl -- Falcons QB Matt Ryan and Panthers QB Cam Newton....

    While admitting he has a good football team, Dirk Koetter is quick to remind his team they haven't accomplished anything yet.
  10. Bucs rookie Chris Godwin draws comparisons to Roddy White


    Wide receiver Chris Godwin has made more plays for the Bucs than any rookie since the draft. In fact, his size (6-1, 210 pounds) and ability to compete for the football drew comparisons Wednesday to former Falcons receiver Roddy White, who recently retired.

    Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith, the former Falcons head coach, first raved about Godwin's ability to compete for the football. Head coach Dirk Koetter, who was Smith's offensive coordinator in Atlanta, drew the parallel to White....

    Chris Godwin is primarily an outside receiver, although it's not inconceivable he could play in the slot.
  11. Bucs' DeSean Jackson is producer of new Tupac Shakur movie 'All Eyez on Me' (w/ video)


    TAMPA — All eyes will be on DeSean Jackson when he makes his regular-season debut with the Bucs. Given his speed and production as a receiver, well, get your popcorn ready.

    But Wednesday, Jackson, a free-agent signing this offseason, turned his thoughts to another premiere. He is a producer of All Eyez on Me, a biopic of hip-hop artist, rapper, poet, actor and activist Tupac Shakur that opens in 2,450 theaters in North America on Friday....

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson takes questions from the media during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times 
  12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson watches action from the sidelines during the first day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, June 13, 2017.
  13. Bucs believe Donovan Smith will become a premier left tackle


    "It's a big responsibility. I think Donovan has the correct makeup, the proper makeup to play that position.''

    Dirk Koetter, Bucs coach


    Slimmed down left tackle Donovan Smith still feels the enormous weight of his job. He is the man paid to protect quarterback Jameis Winston against the NFL's premier pass rushers. But it doesn't stop there. It means the fate of the Bucs' entire franchise rests on his performance on any and every given play....

    Smith will eventually be among the best in the league, his line coach says.
  14. Jameis Winston has to become efficient throwing to newcomers DeSean Jackson, Chris Godwin and O.J. Howard.
  15. Bucs rookie WR Chris Godwin wastes no time impressing


    TAMPA — The sleeper pick in the NFL draft for the Bucs this year may prove to be Penn State receiver Chris Godwin. Word of warning to the league's defensive backs: Don't rest on him.

    DeSean Jackson has been electric. Mike Evans has lost a few pounds but still wins most routes. Adam Humphries is as reliable as the sunrise. But the pass catcher who has consistently made the most plays in the six full-squad workouts this offseason may be Godwin....

    Wide receiver Chris Godwin (12), drafted in the third round out of Penn State, signs a four-year deal Thursday, becoming the last 2017 Bucs draft pick to sign. “It feels good to finally make it official and just focus on football now,” he says.