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Friday, Apr 27, 2018
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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs notes: Aggression key part of defense

TAMPA — The Bucs aren’t happy about the three 15-yard personal foul penalties they were flagged for during their 18-17 loss to the Jets on Sunday, but they’re not going to let it change the way they play the game.

That’s why coach Greg Schiano spent part of Monday reminding his team of what he calls the NFL strike zone and the rules regarding where you can and cannot hit a player when making a tackle.

“We need to make sure of that because we have to play on the edge,’’ Schiano said. “That’s the way we play, so you just have to be smart about it because the strike zone in the National Football League is decreasing.

“But again, I want us flying around the way we flew around (Sunday) because that was as hard a hitting a Bucs defense as has been here in a long time. So we’re going to keep doing it. We just to do it within the framework of the rules.’’

Pro Bowl S Dashon Goldson and second-year S Mark Barron were each flagged for unnecessary roughness calls and LB Lavonte David was called for a late hit out of bounds on Jets QB Geno Smith.

The call on Barron helped keep alive a Jets touchdown drive and the late hit by David helped set up the Jets’ game-winning field goal, a 48-yard strike by Nick Folk that came with two seconds left on the clock.

Schiano said the points are only one reason the Bucs have to learn to play with more control in those situations. Player safety is the other, but it’s clear he still wants his players to play tough.

“Coach (Schiano) allows us to play hard, and he understands that there is very little that you can do to stop something like that,’’ DE Da’Quan Bowers said. “I mean, it’s a split-second thing a lot of times.

“Sometimes that’s the difference between a guy sliding down a little further and you hitting him in the head and square in his chest. But you have to live with it, because you can’t play timid.’’

LB Dekoda Watson said he is starting to grow concerned that the safety issue is turning the game into one of “flag football,” but it’s clear the Bucs intend to keep playing an aggressive style.

“If we play cautious we’re going to give up some plays,’’ CB Leonard Johnson said. “So we just have to continue to play aggressive and have fun out there. I mean, once you start thinking about the flags, big plays happen.’’

On the other hand

Schiano used the word “sloppy’’ to describe their play against the Jets but he didn’t apply that word to every facet of their game. The play of P Mike Koenen was one of the exceptions.

Koenen averaged 46.6 yards on seven punts and dropped three down inside the 20-yard line. He also continued to handle kickoff duties and drove four of five kicks out of the end zone for touchbacks.

“I don’t know if I’ve seen a punting and kicking performance in my 26 years like I saw yesterday from Mike Koenen,” Schiano said. “It was just tremendous. I thought our special teams played very, very well.’’

Schiano also lauded the play of his defense. He said the unit clearly made some mistakes but that it did a good job of getting after the quarterback by generating five sacks and eight quarterback hits.

“There was a lot of good stuff to build on,’’ he said. “We just have to get the stuff that I’m unhappy with and that our team is unhappy with and go to work on those things and get them fixed.”

On your marks

Eric Page ran away with the punt and kick return jobs during the preseason, and he didn’t do anything to lose them on Sunday, but he may soon be facing a world-class challenger for his job nonetheless.

Jeff Demps, the Olympic sprinter and part-time running back who came to the Bucs in the LeGarrette Blount trade last April, reported to the team on Monday and it sounds like the Bucs have plans for him.

“There is no immediate plan like ‘OK, Sunday you’ll see him doing this,’  ’’ Schiano said. “The guy hasn’t played football in a while, so we’ll try to get him back into playing football and get him educated in the Buccaneer way.

“Then as we roll into it, if there’s promise there, we’ll move forward. And if he’s feeling good, then we’ll keep moving forward. It’s a two-way street. He’ll walk into the NFL probably as one of the fastest players in the league, so that’s always nice to have on your team.’’

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