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Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2014 Training Camp Preview

By John McMullen, NFL Editor

(SportsNetwork.com) -

REPORT DATES: July 21 (rookies), July 24 (veterans)

SITE: One Buccaneer Place, Tampa, FL

CAMP CONFIDENTIAL: It's probably fair to think Tampa Bay head coach Lovie Smith has a ceiling as far as success goes.

Smith's stint in Chicago probably reveals he's not getting you to the Super Bowl but he is going to make you very competitive and do it rather quickly.

That's why the Bucs are a sexy pick by many to be a playoff contender in 2014, especially if veteran free agent quarterback Josh McCown can take advantage of a similar set-up to what he had in Chicago with two very tall receivers (Vincent Jackson and rookie Mike Evans).

KEY OFFENSIVE ACQUISITION: Any time you have a new QB that's a pretty good place to focus in on.

The 35-year-old McCown is no long-term fix for the Bucs but he proved that he could perform with solid skill-position talent around him with the Bears last year.

The Sam Houston State product really excelled when throwing the jump ball to lengthy receivers like Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett in Chicago and will have a similar setup in Tampa now that the 6-foot-5 Evans and 6-5 rookie tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins will be joining similar-sized veteran Jackson.

"He reminds me of Drew (Brees)," Bucs linebacker Jonathan Casillas told WEPN radio in New York when discussing McCown. "Not just the way he throws the ball, but his approach to the game. The first one in, last one out. You know, he's always around. He's very (communicative), very personable. And you can tell he's a born leader."

KEY DEFENSIVE ACQUISITION: Smith came in and quickly asserted that the Bucs' pass rush simple wasn't good enough so the team spent heavily on former Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson, signing the lengthy player to a five- year deal worth $43 million, including $24 million in guaranteed money.

The 27-year-old former third-round pick out of Georgia Tech is one of the better two-way ends in football, stellar against the run and solid when chasing the passer. Johnson had 11 1/2 sacks in 2012 before dropping back to just 3 1/2 last year in Mike Zimmer's rotational system. More reps in Smith's scheme should mean bigger numbers for the high-priced Johnson.

"Coach Smith and (defensive coordinator Leslie) Frazier, they're putting together a great defense," Johnson said. "I'm just thankful to be a part of it, and looking forward to all the stuff I can do."

PRESEASON SCHEDULE (All Times Eastern):

Aug 8 - at Jacksonville, 7:30 PM Aug 16 - vs. Miami, 7:30 PM Aug 23 - at Buffalo, 4:30 PM Aug 28 - vs. Washington, 7:30 PM

07/17 13:23:09 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
7:00pm Tonight
ECU
UCONN
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
IND
 
9:00pm Tonight
CAL
CAR
 
Final
KAN 7
SFG 2
Final
ORL 89
HOU 90
Final
BOS 100
BRK 86
Final
NYK 103
WAS 100
Final
MEM 96
CLE 92
Final
MIL 91
MIN 110
Final
SAN 107
ATL 117
Final
LAL 94
POR 86
4th
LAC 83
PHO 82
 
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
IND
 
7:30pm Tonight
DET
PHI
 
8:00pm Tonight
NOP
DAL
 
7:00pm Tonight
ECU
UCONN
8:00pm Tonight
VT
MIAMI
7:00pm Wednesday
OTT 0
TOR 0
Final
PIT 3
PHI 5
Final
EDM 3
WAS 2
3rd
ANA 2
BUF 0
 
7:00pm Tonight
BOS
NYI
 
7:30pm Tonight
DET
PIT
 
8:00pm Tonight
MIN
ARI
 
8:00pm Tonight
NAS
CHI
 
8:00pm Tonight
STL
VAN
 
9:00pm Tonight
CAL
CAR
 
10:30pm Tonight
LOS
BUF
 
10:30pm Tonight
SJS
CLB
 
8:25pm Tonight
DEN
SDC