TAMPA - An integral part of the New York Giants' past two Super Bowl teams, kicker Lawrence Tynes grew accustomed to winning in recent years. He doesn't want to get out of the habit now. That's one reason Tynes was still available when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers came calling after Connor Barth tore his right Achilles' tendon playing in a charity basketball game. Though Tynes, a nine-year veteran, received offers from other teams, he was waiting for one from what he considered a true playoff contender. "There was a little bit of back and forth between me and my agent over it at one point, but I want to win football games,'' Tynes said of his decision to pass on other offers and join the Bucs. "I came from a winning program and I think this is going to be a winning program."
The Bucs' talent, Tynes said, is "through the roof.'' Eight players on the roster have played in a Pro Bowl. Several others, including left guard Carl Nicks, safety Dashon Goldson and tight end Tom Crabtree, have been to a Super Bowl. "You look at this roster and it's pretty stacked,'' Tynes said. "And I know that (the NFC South) is a tough division and that we still have to line up and play all these teams, but we're going to be good.'' Coach Greg Schiano chuckled when told of Tynes' comment. "That's good to hear," Schiano said. "But I don't think he's going to stand up and say, 'I came here because I think we're going to stink,' either.'' No, but it's not like Tynes is the lone newcomer predicting good things for Tampa Bay this season. "Our expectations are very high,'' four-time Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis said. "I think we're going to contend in our conference and go from there. It's about winning games, winning our conference and getting to the playoffs.'' Outside opinions When they come together at offseason events such as the Senior Bowl or the NFL scouting combine, coaches have a tendency to talk shop and compare notes. That talk can be put to good use, especially when a coach is changing jobs. Bucs quarterbacks coach John McNulty moved this past offseason from Arizona, where he spent three years as a receivers coach and his last as quarterbacks coach. The former Rutgers quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator knew from those sessions he was inheriting what most rival coaches considered a pretty good talent in quarterback Josh Freeman. "I can honestly say that there was no one that I talked to who said, 'Yeah, good luck with that guy,'" McNulty said. "Everybody has said, 'Hey, I'll take him.' And that's from guys who have quarterbacks that have been struggling and from guys who have good quarterbacks. "Everybody I've talked to pretty much says the same thing about him - that he's tremendously talented, is a great person, has good football savvy and that he will do anything that you ask him to do." Memory lane Bucs great Warren Sapp, who will be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, visited One Buc Place last week. It brought back memories for Schiano. "I wasn't here when he played, but I used to come up and visit and watch him practice," Schiano said. "You watch him on TV and there was all the shenanigans and everything, but if you watched him practice and saw how hard he worked in every single practice, that's why he was the player he was. "It was like that for that whole group. And that's what we're trying to create here now - that kind of work ethic and that kind of focus on practice. "If you take care of practice like that, then the games will take care of themselves.'' firstname.lastname@example.org (813) 259-7979 Twitter: @RCummingsTBO