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Tampa Bay Bucs ponder an NFL where they have a winning record

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Even to the players of the Tampa Bay Bucs, it sounds mesmerizing.

A winning record?

Them?

This is the franchise that finished 2-14 last season. The team that lost its opener in embarrassing fashion. A team that hasn’t’ had a winning record since 2010.

Yet, as the Bucs prepare to play the 0-2 Houston Texans, they have a chance to improve their record to 2-1. Really.

“It would be huge,” said receiver Vincent Jackson. “Obviously, being 2-1 in this first quarter would be great for us. Obviously, they’re a tough team that’s going to have a lot of energy, playing at home. They’re 0-2 right now, so we know that we’re going to get their best shot. We’re going to be prepared for it. Again, one [game] at a time is kind of what the message has been, consistent throughout all of our meetings. Just focus on doing your job, doing it the right way, one game at time and we can be just fine.

“This is a brand new opportunity for us. We’re sitting at 1-1 with a win in our division, it’s great for us. There’s nothing that says that we shouldn’t be able to go on a streak and win a lot more football games, despite what the history has been here.”

Cornerback Alterraun Verner talks about baby steps. When a team is 2-14, he says, there are a lot of checkmarks. Winning a second straight game would be one of those.

“We’ve got to find a way to get another one,” Verner said. “That’s something we couldn’t do last year. That’s why this week is bigger to me. We have to learn how to come off a win. We have to learn to stack them up.

“We were 2-14 last year. We’re not in any position to take anyone lightly. Going 2-1 would be huge. I was thinking about how at least we didn’t have a losing percentage. We’re even. It would be great to go 2-1 going into a home game. You have to take baby steps.”

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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