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Saturday, Jul 21, 2018
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Bucs roundtable: Most hopeful news in a disappointing season?

Hard to believe it, but two months ago the Bucs were throwing into the end zone late in the fourth quarter with a chance to beat the Patriots. Make you feel better?If not, here’s our Bucs coverage team’s best attempt and doing that with their answers to this Bucs Quarterly Report question: What’s the single most hopeful news in this disappointing season?

O.J. IS OK

Tom Jones, @tomwjones: Gimme a day or two and I might be able to find something positive out what has been a dumpster fire of a season. Okay, how’s this? Tight end O.J. Howard is a really good player. Maybe he hasn’t put up the offensive numbers everyone hoped for (he has only 21 catches in 12 games), but you can see the talent is there. And he will deliver splash plays, as evidenced by his four touchdowns. The Bucs did well with the 2017 first-round draft choice.

THE KICKER-GO-ROUND IS OVER!

Thomas Bassinger, @tometrics: What a crazy trip it has been since 2012. The Bucs jumped from Connor Barth to Rian Lindell to Patrick Murray to Kyle Brindza to Barth again to Roberto Aguayo to Nick Folk to Murray again. When Tampa Bay drafted Aguayo in the second round of the 2015 draft, general manager Jason Licht said he didn’t want to go through a kicking carousel again. It took some time, but it looks as if he finally found the kicker he was looking for all along. Murray has made 14 of 16 field goals and all 12 of his extra points.

THE 2018 SCHEDULE

Ernest Hooper, @hoop4you: The Bucs are almost assured of a last-place finish in the NFC South. That means they will add the Chicago Bears and the San Francisco 49ers to a schedule that already includes the rebuilding New York Giants and the hapless Cleveland Browns. There and no gimmes in the NFL, but if they can win those four and add five more Ws, they’ll have a shot at the playoffs. Regrettably, they likely will be the underdog in those 12 other games, including teams from the NFC East (Philadelphia, Dallas, Washington) and the AFC North (Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Cincinnati).

ROOKIES ARE PLAYING WELL

Greg Auman, @gregauman: I think the Bucs have gotten good production out of their top rookies — O.J. Howard has four touchdowns, Justin Evans leads the team with three interceptions, and Kendell Beckwith and Chris Godwin have shown promise in part-time roles. If you can consistently hit on your top draft picks, that can solve many problems long-term.

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