Feb 4, 2021; Tampa, FL, USA;  Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul (90) reacts against the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Bucs’ Jason Pierre-Paul, Jaydon Mickens out vs. Rams

Outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul and returner/receiver Jaydon Mickens will miss the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ road game against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.

Coach Bruce Arians said Pierre-Paul (hand, shoulder) and Mickens (abdominal) won’t make the trip to Los Angeles.

Arians also termed it as “very questionable” whether Antonio Brown could come off the reserve/COVID-19 list and play in the game.

First-round draft pick Joe Tryon-Shoyinka will make his first career start in place of Paul.

Pierre-Paul has nine tackles in two games, while Mickens is averaging 29 yards on four kickoff returns and 10.5 on two punt returns.

Brown has six receptions for 138 yards and one touchdown.

–Field Level Media

Dec 13, 2020; Glendale, Arizona, USA; San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman (25) looks on against the Washington Football Team during the first half at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Bucs have reached out to Richard Sherman

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have reached out to free agent Richard Sherman in a play to shore up their defensive secondary.

Bucs coach Bruce Arians, responding to questions about an NFL Network report, confirmed Monday that Bucs general manager Jason Licht has been in contact with Sherman, who’s facing criminal charges and an NFL investigation.

“We’ve got to see,” Arians said. “Just a matter of I coach the ones we got and let (Licht) handle the rest of that. We’ll kick the tires on some other guys, too. … If it’s the right fit, we’ll move on it.”

Sherman’s former teams — the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers — also have reached out to the cornerback, per the report.

Tampa Bay cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting suffered an injury in Week 1.

Sherman pleaded not guilty to five misdemeanor charges in mid-July following his arrest for allegedly attempting to break into his in-laws’ house. Sherman was charged with driving under the influence, resisting arrest, endangering roadway workers and two domestic violence counts — second-degree criminal trespass and third-degree malicious mischief.

Sherman, 33, has been in therapy since the incident, per NFL Network.

Sherman missed a career-high 11 games last season with the 49ers because of a calf injury. He recorded 18 tackles and one interception in five games before being released in February.

In the 2019 season, Sherman collected 61 tackles and three interceptions and defended 11 passes in 15 games while making his fifth Pro Bowl.

Sherman’s first seven seasons were spent with the NFC West rival Seahawks, with whom he made two Super Bowl appearances (winning one) and grabbed 32 interceptions. Sherman earned his three first-team All-Pro selections from 2012-14 as part of Seattle’s “Legion of Boom” defense.

–Field Level Media

Sep 19, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA;Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) throws the ball against the Atlanta Falcons  during the first half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Brady fires 5 TDs as Buccaneers dispatch Falcons

Tom Brady tossed five touchdown passes Sunday and Mike Edwards returned two fourth quarter interceptions for scores to finalize the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 48-25 win over the Atlanta Falcons in Tampa, Fla.

Leading 28-25 as the fourth period started, the Buccaneers (2-0) pulled away as Brady hit Chris Godwin for a 12-yard touchdown with 9:18 left. Edwards picked off Matt Ryan less than 90 seconds later and lugged it 31 yards to make it 41-25. Edwards sealed the outcome with 4:01 remaining with a 15-yard interception return.

Brady completed 24 of 36 passes for 276 yards and has thrown for nine scores in the first two games. Ten different receivers caught at least one pass, with Mike Evans grabbing five for 75 yards after being limited to three by Dallas on Sept. 9.

Matt Ryan had a good game going for Atlanta (0-2) until the late interceptions. He finished 35 of 46 for 300 yards and two scores, but also tossed three picks. Calvin Ridley caught seven passes for 63 yards and a touchdown in the losing effort.

The Brady-Gronkowski pairing got Tampa Bay off to a 14-0 lead before the second quarter was a minute old. They capped the Buccaneers’ first possession with a 20-yard touchdown strike less than three minutes into the game, then finished their second scoring drive with a 1-yard pass 53 seconds into the second quarter.

Atlanta got on the board on its ensuing possession when Cordarrelle Patterson ripped off a 10-yard touchdown run with 11:48 left, but Brady made it 21-7 on a 3-yard scoring strike to Evans with 43 seconds left. Younghoe Koo made a 36-yard field goal as time expired to pull the Falcons within 21-10.

After Brady and Evans hooked up on a 1-yard touchdown just over two minutes into the third quarter, Atlanta made its move. Ryan found Ridley for a 3-yard scoring connection with 6:35 remaining, then hit Patterson on a 7-yard touchdown pass with 1:45 showing to make it a three-point game.

–Field Level Media

Sep 9, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) reacts after defeating the Dallas Cowboys at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Reper-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Brady on playing until 50: ‘I think it’s a yes’

Tom Brady appeared pretty spry during the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ season-opening victory over the Dallas Cowboys.

With Brady seemingly keeping Father Time at bay, fans naturally have questioned if the 44-year-old quarterback envisions playing until his 50th birthday — Aug. 3, 2027.

As luck would have it, Brady and teammate Rob Gronkowski tackled that question on this season’s first episode of Tommy & Gronky, a video series produced by the Buccaneers.

“Can Tom Brady play until (he’s) 50 years old?” Gronkowski asked.

“Wow. Seems to be a really hot question lately,” Brady said. “Can Tom Brady play ’til 50? Like, 50 years old?”

“Fifty,” Gronkowski repeated. “You’re 44, and that’s six more years.”

“I don’t find it so difficult,” Brady answered. “Plus in Florida, it’s kind of a retiree state, so I feel like I can play and then just glide into retirement. I think I can. I think it’s a yes.”

The line of questioning didn’t end there, however.

“You know, there’s a little spin to that question,” Gronkowski said. “I think it’s, will (Brady’s wife) Gisele (Bundchen) let Tom play ’til 50?”

“That is a way better question,” Brady said. “And in fact, why would (fans) not Google that? I think they should. That is, of course no, that answer.

“I’m just kidding,” Brady continued. “Sorry, babe. I love you. You would let me. You would let me do anything as long as I’m happy.”

Brady completed 32 of 50 passes for 379 yards with four touchdowns in Tampa Bay’s 31-29 victory over Dallas on Sept. 9.

Brady won his seventh Super Bowl title in February while playing in his first season with the Buccaneers after 20 with the New England Patriots. He threw three touchdown passes in Tampa Bay’s 31-9 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs to win Super Bowl MVP honors for the fifth time.

–Field Level Media

Feb 7, 2020; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting (23) knocks away a pass intended for Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Byron Pringle (left) during the first quarter of Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Buccaneers place CB Sean Murphy-Bunting (elbow) on IR

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers placed cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting on injured reserve on Monday.

Murphy-Bunting dislocated his right elbow during Thursday night’s season-opening game against the Dallas Cowboys.

Tampa Bay also placed long snapper Zach Triner (finger) on injured reserve, signed long snapper Carson Tinker and promoted safety Andrew Adams from the practice squad to the 53-man roster.

The transaction involving Murphy-Bunting means the 24-year-old will miss at least three games.

Murphy-Bunting was injured on a play in which he was beat for a 22-yard touchdown by Cowboys receiver CeeDee Lamb with 1:35 left in the opening quarter of Tampa Bay’s 31-29 victory.

Murphy-Bunting’s arm twisted awkwardly after he took a swing at trying to knock the football away from Lamb just as teammate Antoine Winfield Jr. reached the scene. He fell to the ground in obvious pain and was eventually assisted off the field by a team trainer.

The 24-year-old Central Michigan product is in third season with the Buccaneers. He had three interceptions in the playoffs last season as Tampa Bay won the Super Bowl.

Triner tore a tendon in a finger during the game against Dallas and will require surgery. Published reports say he could miss 10 to 12 weeks.

Thursday’s game was Triner’s 33rd with Tampa Bay over the past two-plus seasons.

Tinker has 69 games of NFL experience with the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2013-18. The 31-year-old was recently released by the New York Giants.

Adams, 28, was elevated to the active roster for the opener and had three tackles. He has played in 44 games for the Buccaneers since the beginning of the 2018 season and has recorded five of his six career interceptions during that time. He also played in 30 games for the New York Giants in 2016-17.

–Field Level Media

Sep 9, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) celebrates after a Buccaneers touchdown  against the Dallas Cowboys during the first half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Bucs-Cowboys opener is TV’s most-watched show since Super Bowl

The NFL returned to television Thursday night, and the public tuned in.

The season opener between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Dallas Cowboys attracted an audience that was the biggest for any TV show since the Super Bowl in February, NBC announced Friday.

Around 24.4 million viewers watched the Thursday game on NBC, with a peak of 25.4 million viewers between 9:45-10 p.m. ET.

The game also was available on Peacock, NBC Sports Digital and NFL Digital platforms. When counting those sources, the Total Audience Delivery (TAD) average was around 26 million, per NBC.

The TAD for the Buccaneers’ 31-29 win was up 20 percent from last year’s NFL kickoff game, a 34-20 Kansas City Chiefs win over the Houston Texans. It also was the highest for an NFL Thursday opener since 27.4 million watched the New England Patriots beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 28-21 in 2015.

The 2015 game and Thursday’s game had a major similarity: Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, two of the NFL’s most marketable players, connecting for multiple touchdown passes — six years ago for New England, this year for Tampa Bay.

The Average Minute Audience for Peacock and digital platforms of 1.6 million broke NBC’s record for an NFL game, not including Super Bowls, and increased 64 percent from last year.

The Buccaneers-Cowboys contest garnered a 13.4 rating (percent of all TV households watching) and a 32 share (percent of households watching TV at the time that tuned in), with those figures rising 20 percent from last year.

The Dallas market had the highest viewership Thursday with a 29.1 rating and 56 share. San Antonio (25.5/45) was next, followed by Tampa (24.6/50), Providence (23.1/44), Austin (22.9/46), Boston (21.4/43), Cleveland (20.3/40), Jacksonville (20.1/38), Norfolk (19.9/39) and Milwaukee (17.7/37).

–Field Level Media

Sep 9, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones (27) runs the ball against Dallas Cowboys cornerback Anthony Brown (30) during the first half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Bucs coach: Ronald Jones II ‘struggled mentally’ to get over fumble

Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones II did not return to Thursday’s season-opening game against the Dallas Cowboys after losing a fumble in the second quarter.

Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians on Friday explained why Jones was glued to the bench after losing the ball following a 1-yard gain.

“‘Ro’ was running really, really well until the fumble, and then he struggled mentally to get over it,” Arians said of the 24-year-old Jones. “That was too big of a game and go out there and not be focused, so (Leonard Fournette) got the rest of the way.”

Fournette had nine carries for 32 yards while Jones had four rushes for 14 yards in the Buccaneers’ 31-29 victory over the Cowboys. Fellow running back Giovani Bernard had a pair of catches for 12 yards on the team’s final possession.

Jones led the Buccaneers in carries (192), rushing yards (978) and rushing touchdowns (seven) last season. He did not lose a fumble in 14 games for the Super Bowl champs in 2020.

–Field Level Media

Feb 3, 2021; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting during NFL football practice, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021 in Tampa, Fla. The Buccaneers will face the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl 55.  Mandatory Credit: Kyle Zedaker/Handout Photo via USA TODAY Sports

Bucs CB Sean Murphy-Bunting exits with elbow injury

Tampa Bay cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting departed the Buccaneers’ season-opening game against the visiting Dallas Cowboys due to a right elbow injury sustained in the first quarter Thursday.

The Buccaneers announced that Murphy-Bunting wouldn’t return.

Murphy-Bunting was injured on a play in which he was beat for a 22-yard touchdown by Cowboys receiver CeeDee Lamb with 1:35 left in the quarter.

Murphy-Bunting’s arm twisted awkwardly after he took a swing at trying to knock the football away from Lamb just as teammate Antoine Winfield Jr. reached the scene. He fell to the ground in obvious pain and was eventually assisted off the field by a team trainer.

The 24-year-old Central Michigan product is in third season with the Buccaneers. He had three interceptions in the playoffs last season as Tampa Bay won the Super Bowl.

–Field Level Media

Aug 28, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) calls a play at the line of scrimmage during the first quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Heavily-favored Bucs also heavily backed to beat Cowboys

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are expected to get off to a quick start in their attempt to repeat as Super Bowl champions.

Quarterback Tom Brady begins his quest for an eighth title as a 6.5-point favorite at PointsBet and an 8.0-point favorite at DraftKings ahead of Thursday’s season opener against the visiting Dallas Cowboys at Raymond James Stadium.

The Bucs’ spread line is being backed by 74 percent of the money and 68 percent of the total bets at PointsBet and 79 and 78 percent, respectively, at DraftKings. Tampa Bay’s -290 moneyline is an even more popular wager at PointsBet, backed by 89 percent of the money and 90 percent of the bets.

The Buccaneers easily handled the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9 in last season’s Super Bowl, and that set the 44-year-old Brady up for another repeat. His New England Patriots’ teams won consecutive titles in the 2003 and 2004 seasons — against the Carolina Panthers and Philadelphia Eagles, respectively.

The biggest task in Brady’s eyes is making sure complacency doesn’t occur.

“I think that’s what you’ve got to guard against,” Brady told the Tampa Bay Times. “You can’t think that ‘Oh, it’s just going to go the way it went (last) year, so we already know what to expect, so let’s just play with the same level of effort.’

“My only point is we know what to expect. But it’s not like we won 20 games last year. We won 15. We were 15-5 (counting the postseason). It’s not like we were undefeated, and we were blowing teams out.”

Brady passed for 4,633 yards and 40 touchdowns in his first season in Bruce Arians’ offense after playing 20 seasons for the Patriots.

Meanwhile, Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott will be back on the field for the first time since sustaining a compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle nearly 11 months ago against the New York Giants.

Prescott also has been dealing with a strained throwing shoulder, an injury that occurred in practice on July 28. He was a full practice participant on Monday and is in no danger of missing the game.

Not surprisingly, he’s pretty eager for kickoff to arrive.

“I’m just excited for that moment, just to get it out of the way, after 11 months without being hit,” Prescott told reporters. “I’m just excited for everything this game entails, from warmups, to pregame, to the first whistle to the last, and everything in between.”

Prescott was off to a superb start prior to the gruesome injury. He passed for 1,856 yards and nine touchdowns in less than five games and said he is expecting similar production.

“Obviously, I have high expectations for myself,” Prescott said. “I plan to come out starting fast. I’ve said before, I don’t necessarily want the numbers that I had that early because we weren’t winning games and we weren’t being competitive early, and that’s why some of those numbers came about. I plan to come out better than I was last year, to be honest.”

Dallas struggled to a 6-10 record and missed the playoffs for the second straight season.

One key player Prescott might not take the field with Thursday is six-time Pro Bowl right guard Zack Martin, who was placed on the COVID-19 list after a positive test. Second-year pro Connor McGovern will start in Martin’s place unless Martin can pass two COVID tests before kickoff.

Owner Jerry Jones is planning a separate aircraft for Martin, Noah Brown and Brandon Knight, all of whom entered the week on the COVID/reserve list.

Tampa Bay ruled out safety Jordan Whitehead (hamstring) on Tuesday. Arians said everybody else is “ready to roll.”

Brady’s teams haven’t always jumped out to quick starts. Combine that with Prescott coming off injury and questions along his offensive line, and both sportsbooks installed the Over/Under at 52.0 points.

That has moved to 51.5 at PointsBet, with the Under backed by 61 percent of the money but the Over bringing in 54 percent of the bets. The 62.0 Over at DraftKings has seen more one-sided action with 55 percent of the money and 60 percent of the bets.

The lightest market for Thursday’s NFL kickoff at DraftKings has been only 15 percent of the total moneyline bets being placed on Dallas at +280.

–Field Level Media

Aug 28, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) warms up before a game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Brady, Buccaneers set for season kickoff vs. Cowboys

Tom Brady is eyeing back-to-back Super Bowl crowns and it comes as no surprise that he is the last quarterback to walk off with two straight championship rings.

The 44-year-old Brady begins his pursuit of the achievement as well as Super Bowl ring No. 8 when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday night in the opening game of the NFL season.

The Buccaneers easily handled the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9 in last season’s Super Bowl and that set Brady up for another repeat. His New England Patriots’ teams won consecutive titles in the 2003 and 2004 seasons — against the Carolina Panthers and Philadelphia Eagles, respectively.

The biggest task in Brady’s eyes is making sure complacency doesn’t occur.

“I think that’s what you’ve got to guard against,” Brady told the Tampa Bay Times. “You can’t think that ‘Oh, it’s just going to go the way it went (last) year, so we already know what to expect, so let’s just play with the same level of effort.’

“My only point is we know what to expect. But it’s not like we won 20 games last year. We won 15. We were 15-5 (counting the postseason). It’s not like we were undefeated, and we were blowing teams out.”

Brady passed for 4,633 yards and 40 touchdowns in his first season in Bruce Arians’ offense after playing 20 seasons for the Patriots.

Meanwhile, Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott will be back on the field for the first time since sustaining a compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle nearly 11 months ago against the New York Giants.

Prescott also has been dealing with a strained throwing shoulder, an injury that occurred in practice on July 28. He was a full practice participant on Monday and is in no danger of missing the game.

Not surprisingly, he’s pretty eager for kickoff to arrive.

“I’m just excited for that moment, just to get it out of the way, after 11 months without being hit,” Prescott told reporters. “I’m just excited for everything this game entails, from warmups, to pregame, to the first whistle to the last, and everything in between.”

Prescott was off to a superb start prior to the gruesome injury. He passed for 1,856 yards and nine touchdowns in less than five games and said he is expecting similar production.

“Obviously, I have high expectations for myself,” Prescott said. “I plan to come out starting fast. I’ve said before, I don’t necessarily want the numbers that I had that early because we weren’t winning games and we weren’t being competitive early, and that’s why some of those numbers came about. I plan to come out better than I was last year, to be honest.”

Dallas struggled to a 6-10 record and missed the playoffs for the second straight season.

One key player Prescott might not take the field with Thursday is six-time Pro Bowl right guard Zack Martin, who was placed on the COVID-19 list after a positive test. Second-year pro Connor McGovern will start in Martin’s place unless Martin can pass two COVID tests before kickoff.

Owner Jerry Jones is planning a separate aircraft for Martin, Noah Brown and Brandon Knight, all of whom entered the week on the COVID/reserve list.

Tampa Bay is concerned about safety Jordan Whitehead (hamstring). Arians is hopeful Whitehead will be active Thursday.

Arians, similar to Brady, isn’t concerned about this team being full of themselves after the Super Bowl title.

“I don’t think so. Our team knows it’s about winning,” Arians said. “It’s not about individual stats, it’s not about fantasy leagues. It’s just about winning ballgames and winning championships. So that part of it is really, really easy.”

Dallas has won 15 of the 19 regular-season meetings, including a 27-20 home win in 2018.

–Field Level Media