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NFL Draft Day 1: former Bucs legend John Lynch makes huge splash as 49ers GM

It didn’t take long for former Tampa Bay Buccaneer John Lynch to make an impact as the first-year general manager of the San Francisco 49ers. Slated to draft second overall, the rookie executive literally hoodwinked the Chicago Bears into giving up three lower-round draft picks to move up from the third pick.

Lynch, recently inducted into the Bucs Ring of Honor, simply ran rings around his counterpart, Ryan Pace, and the Bears organization. The Bears got what they wanted, North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. So did Lynch, when he selected Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas.

The Bears could have had Trubisky and still have three more draft picks. With so many defensive holes, Lynch had no intention of drafting him.

Pundits, fans, and executives are scratching their heads over the Bears move. Remember, it was only two months ago they signed Mike Glennon away from the Bucs for $45 over three years to replace the interception machine known as Jay Cutler.

Lynch wasn’t done. By trading two lower draft picks to Seattle, the 49ers were able to grab Alabama star linebacker Rueben Foster, whose stock had dropped due to “off the field issues.”

Bucs fans know Lynch is a smart guy. Not only did he prove that with his handling of the first day of the draft, he also demonstrated the knowledge that you do not embarrass another team after you’ve taken them to the cleaners. Instead of deploying the hard-hitting style he unleashed on the field, a satisfied, but dignified, Lynch followed his sack of Chicago with an extended hand to help them up.

“Kudos to the Bears. They saw a player they wanted at a really important position,” he said at a post draft press conference. “I’m sure a lot of people are going to give them heat because (Trubisky) only started 13 games, but he’s a guy we, frankly, liked. So, I give Ryan Pace and (Bears Coach) John Fox a lot of credit for making a courageous move and we’re thrilled with what we got out of it.”

In a pre-draft message to fans, Lynch talked of a collaborative process among 49ers’ coaches and executives. Among those he singled out was Senior Personnel Executive Martin Mayhew, a former GM at Detroit, former NFL player, and Florida State star under Bobby Bowden.

Following Lynch’s second move, the 49ers had nabbed two of their top three targeted players. He has clearly impressed most NFL observers with the way he went about improving the NFL’s worst run defense in 2016.

“So maybe John Lynch is qualified for the 49ers GM job after all,” wrote USA Today’s Steve Ruiz, who represented the huge majority of the commentary. “Everyone was laughing when San Francisco hired him, but if his first draft is a sign of what’s to come, they made the right choice.”

The bar is now raised for Lynch. The performance of the players drafted Thursday and in the coming two days will help determine if he can leap over it.

Buccaneers take O.J. Howard in 1st round; UF’s Jarrad Davis goes to Lions

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Alabama tight end O.J. Howard with the 19th pick in the NFL draft, providing young quarterback Jameis Winston with another playmaker for an improved offense.

Winston threw for more than 4,000 yards each of the past two seasons, however the Bucs have struggled to score points.

General manager Jason Licht and coach Dirk Koetter are counting on him to be able to get the ball in the end zone with more regularity after adding Howard, as well as veteran receiver DeSean Jackson in free agency.

The Detroit Lions drafted Florida linebacker Jarrad Davis with the No. 21 pick in the NFL draft.

Detroit addressed a desperate need, adding a player who could fill in for released linebacker DeAndre Levy and perhaps bolster the franchise’s weakest link.

The 6-foot-1, 238-pound Davis missed about a third of last season with an ankle injury, but was still second-team All-SEC. He played in nine games, making 60 tackles, including two sacks.

The Lions most significant additions this offseason have been on offense, signing veteran linemen Rick Wagner and T.J. Lang.

No surprise at the top of the NFL draft: Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett was the first choice by the Cleveland Browns.

Coming off a 1-15 season, the Browns need help everywhere. They began filling holes Thursday night by grabbing Garrett, a junior and All-American with dynamic passing rushing skills, probably the best of any player in this draft. While Garrett was bothered by some injuries last season, at times he was unblockable in the tough SEC.

Garrett is the first Aggie selected No. 1 overall.

Republished with permission from the Associated Press.

Rays scratch starter, use 5 relievers to 2-hit Orioles

Substitute starter Austin Pruitt combined with four other Tampa Bay relievers on a two-hitter, and the Rays capitalized on Wade Miley‘s wildness in a 2-0 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday night.

On another damp and chilly night at Camden Yards, Rays starter Erasmo Ramirez was a late scratch due to “uncertain weather conditions,” according to the team.

Pruitt, a rookie right-hander making his first major league start, allowed one hit in three innings. Danny Farquhar followed by getting two outs; Jumbo Diaz went 1 1/3 innings; Chase Whitley (1-0) contributed three perfect innings and Alex Colome worked the ninth for his fifth save.

Tampa Bay pitchers retired 17 straight batters before Chris Davis drew a two-out walk in the ninth. Colome then struck out Mark Trumbo to end it.

Baltimore’s lone hits were a double by Jonathan Schoop in the second and an infield hit by Davis in the fourth.

Miley (1-1) gave up only four hits in seven innings, striking out eight. But the lefty issued six walks, including three in the pivotal fourth inning when Tampa Bay went up 2-0.

After Rickie Weeks Jr. and Logan Morrison walked with one out, Tim Beckham hit an RBI single and Derek Norris added a run-scoring fly ball.

Steven Souza Jr. had three hits for the Rays, now 2-7 on the road. Tampa Bay has drawn 14 walks in the first two games of the series.

Baltimore needs to win the finale on Wednesday night to avoid its first series loss.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Rays: Souza was in the lineup after bruising his right elbow trying to catch a home run during Tuesday’s game against the Orioles. “I woke up and it wasn’t extremely unbearable,” Souza said. … RHP Jake Odorizzi (left hamstring) will throw live batting practice on Wednesday and is set to return to the active roster on Monday, manager Kevin Cash said.

UP NEXT

Rays: Alex Cobb (1-2, 4.88 ERA) starts for Tampa Bay in the series finale. The right-hander is 4-1 with a 1.84 ERA in eight career starts vs. Baltimore.

Orioles: Dylan Bundy (3-1, 1.37 ERA) has pitched 13 straight shutout innings over his last two starts, beating Toronto and Boston

Orioles hit 3 HRs off Chris Archer in 6-3 victory over Rays

Adam Jones hit a tiebreaking, two-run homer in the seventh inning, Hyun Soo Kim and Jonathan Schoop also went deep, and the Baltimore Orioles beat the Tampa Bay Rays 6-3 on a cold, damp Monday night at Camden Yards.

All three home runs were off Chris Archer (2-1), who gave up five runs, six hits and five walks in 6 2/3 innings. The right-hander didn’t allow a long ball in his previous four starts this season.

Baltimore trailed 3-1 before Kim and Schoop connected on successive pitches in the sixth inning. In the seventh, Archer hit Seth Smith with a pitch, and Jones followed with a drive deep into the left-field seats.

It was the fifth win in seven games for the Orioles, whose 13-5 record is best in the American League.

Corey Dickerson homered for the Rays, who fell to 1-7 on the road.

Coming off an intense three-game series against the Red Sox that drew huge crowds to Camden Yards, the Orioles performed before 11,142 hearty fans, most of whom didn’t make a whole lot of noise until Kim and Schoop got Baltimore’s offense going.

Orioles starter Ubaldo Jimenez allowed three runs, three hits and five walks in 3 1/3 innings. After he gave up four walks and a double in the fourth, Vidal Nuno entered with the bases loaded and struck out Dickerson and Kevin Kiermaier.

Mychal Givens (3-0) followed with 1 2/3 scoreless innings. Brad Brach worked the ninth for his fourth save.

Dickerson put the Rays in front with his third career leadoff homer, all this season. Tampa Bay leads the majors with 25 first-inning runs.

Smith doubled and scored on a groundout by Chris Davis in the third. Smith had been sidelined since April 18 with a strained right hamstring.

Shane Peterson‘s two-run double gave the Rays a 3-1 lead in the fourth. The liner landed so close to the right field foul line that Orioles manager Buck Showalter asked for a replay, but the call stood.

DEBUT

Tampa Bay reliever Chih-Wei Hu made his major league debut in the ninth inning, getting three straight outs. Recalled from Triple-A Durham on Sunday, the right-hander is the first Taiwan-born player in Rays history.

BARNES SUSPENDED

Red Sox pitcher Matt Barnes has been suspended four games and fined for throwing a fastball past the head of Baltimore’s Manny Machado on Sunday.

The commissioner’s office issued the penalty Monday. Barnes is appealing, meaning the reliever can continue to pitch until the process is done.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY

Rays outfielder Steven Souza Jr. received an exciting present for his 28th birthday Monday: He was selected the AL Player of the Week. Souza batted .414 with three home runs and nine RBIs.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Rays: Kiermaier was in the starting lineup after being hampered by an illness over the weekend. “I’m still not where I want to be, but definitely on the right track,” he said.

Orioles: Closer Zach Britton (left forearm strain) played catch from about 90 feet on Monday before his scheduled appointment with a hand specialist. If all goes well, the left-hander will have a full side session on Wednesday, Showalter said. … OF Joey Rickard (sprained finger) went 1 for 4 in his rehabilitation stint with Class A Delmarva on Monday.

UP NEXT

Rays: RHP Erasmo Ramirez (2-0, 3.07 ERA) makes his second start since April 2016 after beating Detroit last Thursday. In 29 starts with the Rays, he’s lost once when receiving at least two runs of support.

Orioles: LHP Wade Miley (1-0, 1.87 ERA) seeks an encore for his 11-strikeout performance in Cincinnati last week.

Republished with permission from the Associated Press.

 

After early lead, Tampa Bay Rowdies suffer first defeat on late Charleston goal

Suffering the first home defeat of the season Saturday night, the Tampa Bay Rowdies lost 3-2 to the visiting Charleston Battery on an 89th-minute goal.

Tampa Bay led in the first half and then conceded twice in the last five minutes to trail 2-1 at halftime. The Rowdies pulled even in the second half but conceded in the 89th minute to lose.

“I’m disappointed in the goals that we conceded,” Rowdies Head Coach Stuart Campbell said. “We’ve been so good defensively home and away this year and the three goals we gave away tonight, that’s not us.”

Playing their third match in eight days, the Rowdies looked fatigued as the minutes ticked along in each half.

Tampa Bay played on the road at Louisville City FC last weekend and on the road against Wednesday night against FC Cincinnati before returning home to cap a taxing week of travel and games.

“It was a very tough week for us, playing three games with all the travel,” Rowdies forward Georgi Hristov said. “I think we felt a little tired tonight. Some guys played all 270 minutes in the games. That’s a lot to play with the travel. It’s not an excuse, though. We should have done better.”

After a scoreless opening half-hour, the Rowdies dominated — apart from scoring — Joe Cole put Tampa Bay ahead in the 34th minute, smashing home a rebound after his initial shot was saved.

In the 39th minute, Rowdies right back Kyle Porter was whistled for a foul just outside the Rowdies’ box. On the ensuing Justin Portillo free kick, the Battery’s Forrest Lasso glanced a header to the back post beyond Rowdies goalkeeper Matt Pickens to level the match.

Charleston took a lead in stoppage time when Maikel Chang fired a left-footed shot from outside the box that curled past Pickens and into the far netting.

Trailing at halftime, the Rowdies went all-out to reverse the match, inserting Leo Fernandes and Deshorn Brown early in the second half. Brown replaced Porter, with Tampa Bay switching to a back three.

The all-out attack worked, with Hristov leveling the match in the 62nd minute with his fourth goal of the season. Battery goalkeeper Odisnel Cooper whiffed on clearing a Leo Fernandes free kick, with Hristov the beneficiary in the 6-yard box.

“I took a gamble,” Campbell said. “I chucked every attacking option I had. We ended up with three strikers on, plus two wide men. We went for it because I would’ve been disappointed if we only got a point at home, so I went for it in the hope of getting three. It didn’t happen.”

As the match wound toward its conclusion, the Rowdies looked likelier to score the game-winning goal only for the Battery to swipe all three points with a late goal.

Pickens saved an 89th-minute shot and Rowdies left back Luke Boden stretched to clear the rebound, but could only poke it to the penalty spot, where Tah Brian Anunga was waiting. Anunga placed his shot into the side netting to put Charleston ahead 3-2.

Tampa Bay hosts Richmond Kickers Saturday night at Al Lang.

Scoring Summary 
Tampa Bay: Joe Cole — 34th minute
Charleston: Forrest Lasso — 40th minute (assisted by Justin Portillo)
Charleston: Maikel Chang — 45+ minute
Tampa Bay: Georgi Hristov — 62nd minute
Charleston: Tah Brian Anunga — 89th minute

Caution Summary
Charleston: Romario Williams — 37th minute
Charleston: Forrest Lasso — 61st minute
Charleston: O’Brian Woodbrine — 62nd minute

Starting Lineups
Rowdies XI (4-2-3-1) — GK Matt Pickens; D Kyle Porter (Deshorn Brown 66′), Damion Lowe, Neill Collins, Luke Boden; M Marcel Schäfer, Martin Vingaard; M Alex Morrell (Leo Fernandes 56′), Joe Cole (Martin Paterson 80′), Darwin Jones; F Georgi Hristov.

Charleston XI (4-5-1): GK Odisnel Cooper; D Quinton Griffith, Taylor Mueller (c), Forrest Lasso, O’Brian Woodbine; M Maikel Chang, Justin Portillo, Tah Brian Anunga, Kotaro Higashi (Dante Marini 73′), Ataulla Guerra (Neveal Hackshaw 88′); F Romario Williams (Heviel Cordoves 70′).

 

Tampa Bay Rowdies fall 3-2 on late Charleston goal

The Tampa Bay Rowdies suffered their first home defeat of the season on Saturday night, losing 3-2 to the visiting Charleston Battery on an 89th minute goal.

Tampa Bay led in the first half and then conceded twice in the last five minutes to trail 2-1 at halftime. The Rowdies pulled even in the second half but conceded in the 89th minute to lose.

“I’m disappointed in the goals that we conceded,” Rowdies Head Coach Stuart Campbell said. “We’ve been so good defensively home and away this year and the three goals we gave away tonight, that’s not us.”

Playing their third match in eight days, the Rowdies looked fatigued as the minutes ticked along in each half.

Tampa Bay played on the road at Louisville City FC last weekend and on the road against Wednesday night against FC Cincinnati before returning home to cap a taxing week of travel and games.

“It was a very tough week for us, playing three games with all the travel,” Rowdies forward Georgi Hristov said. “I think we felt a little tired tonight. Some guys played all 270 minutes in the games. That’s a lot to play with the travel. It’s not an excuse, though. We should have done better.”

After a scoreless opening half hour the the Rowdies dominated — apart from scoring — Joe Cole put Tampa Bay ahead in the 34th minute, smashing home a rebound after his initial shot was saved.

In the 39th minute, Rowdies right back Kyle Porter was whistled for a foul just outside the Rowdies’ box. On the ensuing Justin Portillo free kick, the Battery’s Forrest Lasso glanced a header to the back post beyond Rowdies goalkeeper Matt Pickens to level the match.

Charleston took a lead in stoppage time when Maikel Chang fired a left-footed shot from outside the box that curled past Pickens and into the far netting.

Trailing at halftime, the Rowdies went all out to reverse the match, inserting Leo Fernandes and Deshorn Brown early in the second half. Brown replaced Porter, with Tampa Bay switching to a back three.

The all-out attack worked, with Georgi Hristov leveling the match in the 62nd minute with his fourth goal of the season. Battery goalkeeper Odisnel Cooper whiffed on clearing a Leo Fernandes free kick, with Hristov the beneficiary in the 6-yard box.

“I took a gamble,” Campbell said. “I chucked every attacking option I had. We ended up with three strikers on, plus two wide men. We went for it because I would’ve been disappointed if we only got a point at home, so I went for it in the hope of getting three. It didn’t happen.”

As the match wound toward its conclusion, the Rowdies looked likelier to score game-winning goal only for the Battery to swipe all three points with a late goal.

Pickens saved an 89th minute shot and Rowdies left back Luke Boden stretched to clear the rebound, but could only poke it to the penalty spot, where Tah Brian Anunga was waiting. Anunga placed his shot into the side netting to put Charleston ahead 3-2.

Tampa Bay will look to bounce back next weekend when it hosts the Richmond Kickers next Saturday night at Al Lang.

Bucs have prime-time games against Patriots, Falcons in 2017

They are coming up on their 10th year without a playoff game.

Still, the Tampa Bay Bucs have to feel as if they’ll be playing with the big boys in 2017.

The Bucs play a prime-time Thursday night game this year against the world-champion New England Patriots (Oct. 5), then later play a Monday night game against the Atlanta Falcons (Dec. 18). The Bucs also play two games against the Carolina Panthers, the Super Bowl runners-up of two seasons ago.

Tampa Bay closes its season with three divisional games, the Falcons, the Carolina Panthers and the New Orleans Saints.

The Bucs will play seven games against quarterbacks who were in the top 10 of the NFL in passing last year. They play two games against Drew Brees (first), two against Matt Ryan (second), one against Aaron Rodgers (fourth), one against Matt Stafford (sixth) and one against Carson Palmer (ninth). That doesn’t even count Tom Brady, who finished 20th after being suspended for four games. Still, most people acknowledge Brady as the best. Cam Newton, the league MVP in 2015, finished 21st with a bad shoulder last year.

2017 Bucs:

Sept. 10       at Miami

Sept. 17        Chicago

Sept. 24        at Minnesota

Sept. 31         New York Giants

Oct. 5             New England

Oct. 15           at Arizona

Oct, 22          at Buffalo

Oct. 29         Carolina

Nov. 5           at New Orleans

Nov. 12         New York Jets

Nov. 26         at Atlanta

Dec. 3            at Green Bay

Dec. 10          Detroit

Dec. 18         Atlanta

Dec. 24         at Carolina

Dec. 31          New Orleans Saints

Erasmo Ramirez gives the Tampa Bay Rays a reason to keep smiling

Most of the time, Erasmo Ramirez is smiling.

Sometimes, he makes other people smile, too.

Ramirez was terrific in his first start of the year Thursday, taming the Detroit Tigers in an 8-1 victory that completed a series sweep, their first since San Diego in mid-August of last season. Ramirez allowed only two hits – and one earned run – in the five innings he pitched. Chase Whitley went the three innings afterward and allowed only one hit, and Tommy Hunter finished up the ninth.

The Rays are now 8-2 at home on the season, averaging 5.4 runs per game.

It was a nice patchwork job, made necessary by the injury to Jake Odorizzi. Ramirez gave up a leadoff home run to Ian Kinsler but held the Tigers scoreless afterward.

The Rays had 11 hits, including three (and three RBI) from Steven Souza Jr. Kevin Kiermaier had two hits and two RBI. Souza now has 12 games of reaching base multiple times on the season, tying Anthony Rizzo of Chicago for the MLB lead.

“Great series,” said Rays’ manager Kevin Cash. “It was nice to bounce back. We had some timely hitting and took advantage of some mistakes. Anytime you’re able to jump on those it helps a lot, and we did that. Today, as far as Erasmo goes, both him and Whitley were outstanding.

“It’s funny with Erasmo starting and then getting back in the rotation, he decides he wants to be really efficient, and we have no problem with that. His stuff looked really good. It had a lot of late action, which was nice to see. How fortunate for us to have that coverage for when a guy like Jake goes down to be able to piece it together with those two guys. Good day. The bullpen was pretty taxed, so it was nice that we only had to use Whitley and Tommy after that.”

Cash took notice of Souza’s big offensive day.

“We all know Souza has all the tools in the world,” Cash said. “I think we are seeing him put it together a little bit. I know his relationship with Chad has been very beneficial. They talk back-and-forth constantly before the game, throughout the game. I think the biggest adjustment Steven has done is put himself in a position from pitch 1 where he’s ready to hit, and that’s helped him. He doesn’t have to hit the first pitch, but he’s ready to hit it if it’s something to his liking.”

Souza said the Rays are simply playing better at home.

“We’ve played a lot cleaner games at home, so far,” he said. “We played (seven) games on the road and are now at .500 baseball. Playing at Yankee Stadium and Fenway, those are two tough teams and two tough environments. I just think we’ve played clean baseball. Hopefully, at the end of the season, it all evens out.”

The Rays start their next series, against the Houston Astros, at home tonight when Alex Cobb faces Mike Fiers.

 

One week out from NFL Draft, Dalvin Cook’s stock is dropping

With the NFL Draft only one week away, former Florida State star Dalvin Cook has gone from arguably the best back in the draft to possibly falling to the second round. After an underwhelming result at the NFL Scouting Combine, Cook’s stock appears to be dropping.

Before the Combine, Cook himself made the case the he was the best running back in the draft. The critics came out soon after, and Cook was no better than the third rated running back.

Florida State’s all-time leading rusher is now in the lower portion of the first round. Some of the mock drafts have him dropping out of the first round altogether.

LSU’s Leonard Fournette and Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey are now between top five and mid-first round picks ahead of Cook. FSU Coach Jimbo Fisher had a response to the critics.

“Turn the tape on,” said Fisher, quoted in the Orlando Sentinel. “How come all those fast guys couldn’t catch him? How did he run away from all those guys?”

Some discussion among a few scouts involves “off the field” issues with Cook. Some might remember misdemeanor charges in his past, but those were enough to have one NFL scout say he “trusts” Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon over Cook.

For those needing a reminder, Mixon is the guy who knocked out a college coed with one haymaker punch. If trusting Mixon over Cook is a prevailing attitude among the early drafting teams, it goes to show why they are drafting early. Those spots are reserved for losers.

Cook is now projected anywhere from the 15th selection to the second round. Defensive lineman DeMarcus Walker is projected as a second or possibly third round choice.

If he stays in the first round, Cook will be one of a very few from Florida programs who will hear their names called on Thursday night, when the first round will be conducted. Alabama, on the other hand, could have as many as five joining Commissioner Roger Goodell on the stage at Philadelphia City Hall.

The Florida Gators appear to have a first rounder in linebacker Jarrad Davis. Six of seven mock drafts reviewed have him as a late first round selection.

One of those projections had cornerback Teez Tabor and defensive tackle Caleb Brantley going in the first round, but both are more likely to be drafted in the second round on Friday.

Miami tight end David Njoku is likely to go in the second round, but a few believe he has first round potential. Quarterback Brad Kaaya will go no higher than the second round.

Despite the best analysis and projections, plenty of surprises are guaranteed.

 

Derek Jeter, Jeb Bush join forces in bid to buy Marlins

Derek Jeter and Jeb Bush have formed a team in their attempt to buy a team.

The former New York Yankees star and former Florida governor have joined forces in their pursuit of the Miami Marlins, a person familiar with the situation said Wednesday.

The person confirmed the partnership to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because Jeter and Bush have not commented. They initially had competing interests in efforts to buy the team.

The person said Quogue Capital investment fund founder Wayne Rothbaum also is interested in buying the Marlins.

Jeter has long talked about owning a franchise. Bush’s brother, former President George W. Bush, was part-owner of the Texas Rangers from 1989 to 1998.

Last week, Marlins president David Samson said talks with multiple parties interested in buying the team were in the “fourth inning.” He said owner Jeffrey Loria, 76, might sell before the end of the season — or not at all.

Price and financing could be major hurdles. Joshua Kushner, whose older brother is an adviser to President Donald Trump, had a preliminary agreement to buy the Marlins for $1.6 billion before breaking off negotiations. Loria bought the team in 2002 for $158.5 million.

Spokesmen for Jeter and Bush didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Jeter retired in 2014 after 20 seasons with the Yankees. His final manager, Joe Girardi, recently predicted Jeter would make a great owner — even if it’s in a city other than New York.

“That will be strange. In my mind he’ll always be a Yankee,” Girardi said. “But there is life after baseball, and sometimes the opportunity that presents itself is not always necessarily where you played.”

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

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