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Bucs continue their play against a weak schedule vs. Rams

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The Tampa Bay Bucs continue their skid row schedule Thursday night in St. Louis.

The Bucs have played 13 games, but only one opponent — Carolina, which is 13-0 — has a winning record. The Bucs’ other six losses, as well as its six wins, have all come against teams on the lesser side of .500.

The team’s next two opponents — the Rams and the Bears — also have losing records.

Still, Tampa Bay has tripled its victories from a year ago, and on Thursday, the team sent out fliers pumping players for postseason awards.

For the Pro Bowl, the team endorses linebacker Lavonte David, who is fourth in the NFL in tackles with 118. His 12 passes defensed is the most in the league by a linebacker, and his three interceptions are second most.

The team also backs guard Logan Mankins, who has not given up a sack this year and who blocks for the league’s fourth-best running attack.

Then there is running back Doug Martin, who is second in the league in rushing. He has the second-most run of 10-plus yards and the most of 20-plus.

Also, there is defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, whose seven sacks are fourth-most by a defensive tackle this year. He has 14 quarterback knockdowns, the sixth-most by a defensive tackle.

The team is also pushing its rookies: quarterback Jameis Winston, linemen Donovan Smith and Ali Marpet and linebacker Kwon Alexander.

Winston is the youngest player to ever throw for 3,000 yards in a season. Alexander ranks second in tackles among rookies. Smith and Marpet play on a line that has allowed only 24 sacks, 10th fewest in the NFL.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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