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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs-Vikings: Instant analysis from Tampa Bay’s 34-17 loss

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) makes a touchdown catch over Bucs cornerback Vernon Hargreaves (28) during the first half.

LOREN ELLIOTT | Times

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) makes a touchdown catch over Bucs cornerback Vernon Hargreaves (28) during the first half.

MINNEAPOLIS — Here's Rick Stroud and Tom Jones' instant analysis from the Bucs' 34-17 loss at Minnesota Sunday. More to come from Rick & Tom - and Greg Auman -- from Minneapolis later today.

You can also listen to the new Rick & Tom podcast Monday morning here on tampabay.com/sports.

CASE CLOSED

The Bucs can't beat Case Keenum. He is 3-0 against them in last three years as a starter and 7-16 vs everyone else. Injuries hurt the D but where was the offense?

— Rick Stroud, @NFLStroud

NOT PERFECT

Well, it looks as if the Bucs are not going to go 16-0. What a crummy performance on both sides of the ball. As good as they were last week, they were as bad this week. Question is: which is the real Bucs?

— Tom Jones, @tomwjones

 

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Worst-Case scenario: Keenum, Vikings hand Bucs 34-17 loss

Vikings WR Jarius Wright reaches the ball over the pylon for a touchdown in Minnesota's win over the Bucs on Sunday.

LOREN ELLIOTT | TIMES

Vikings WR Jarius Wright reaches the ball over the pylon for a touchdown in Minnesota's win over the Bucs on Sunday.

MINNEAPOLIS -- With key defensive starters out with injury, the Bucs were dominated by the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, with fill-in quarterback Case Keenum beating Tampa Bay for the third year in a row, 34-17, at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Keenum threw for 369 yards and three touchdowns, leading the Vikings (2-1) to a 28-3 lead early in the third quarter before the Bucs (1-1) saw their offense wake up.

Jameis Winston threw two touchdowns in the third quarter, but also had three costly interceptions in Minnesota territory to end other scoring opportunities. Winston threw for 328 yards -- three of the four highest yardage totals in his three-year career have come in losses to Keenum.

The Bucs started the game with three key defensive players (LB Kwon Alexander, CB Brent Grimes, DT Chris Baker) out with injuries, and saw six other defensive players miss time with injuries, most notably linebacker Lavonte David, who was carted off in the fourth quarter with an apparent knee injuries. …

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Bucs' Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson kneel during National Anthem

Bucs receivers Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson both kneeled during the national anthem.

LOREN ELLIOTT | Times

Bucs receivers Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson both kneeled during the national anthem.

Bucs receivers Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson both kneeled during the national anthem in protest before Sunday's game at the Vikings, two days after President Donald Trump made critical remarks about NFL players protesting.

The rest of the Bucs team stood on the field with their arms locked during the anthem, while Evans and Jackson went down on one knee several feet behind them, each with their hands on their hearts for the length of the anthem.

TRUMP TWEETS: NFL's response escalates drama for Sunday games

Evans chose to sit during the anthem before a Bucs home game last year in protest after Trump was elected as president, saying that his protest was not meant as any disrespect to the military or the flag itself. Jackson said on Twitter on Saturday that he would "definitely" be "making a statement" in response to Trump's comments, which drew reaction from NFL players, team owners and commissioner Roger Goodell himself, who called Trump's words "divisive." …

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CB Brent Grimes among Bucs' inactives vs. Vikings

Bucs cornerback Brent Grimes, shown signing autographs before Sunday's game, is inactive and will not play against the Vikings due to a shoulder injury.

LOREN ELLIOTT | TIMES

Bucs cornerback Brent Grimes, shown signing autographs before Sunday's game, is inactive and will not play against the Vikings due to a shoulder injury.

The Bucs had announced that two key defensive starters would be sidelined for today's game against the Vikings, but the announcement of inactives showed a third: cornerback Brent Grimes, who had been limited by a shoulder injury in practice this week, will not be playing as well.

He joins LB Kwon Alexander (hamstring) and DT Chris Baker (illness), leaving the Bucs without three defensive starters for their first road game of 2017. Second-year pro Ryan Smith, who took his first NFL defensive snaps last week, now steps into a major role opposite Vernon Hargreaves at cornerback.

Rookie Kendell Beckwith steps up for Alexander, with Adarius Glanton taking Beckwith's snaps at strongside linebacker, and the Bucs will get by with only three defensive tackles, which means a starting role for veteran Clinton McDonald and more snaps for Gerald McCoy.

The other Bucs' inactives, in addition to Grimes, Baker and Alexander, were as expected -- OT Leonard Wester, OC Joe Hawley, TE Antony Auclair and DE Jacquies Smith.

With the injuries, DE Will Clarke and LB Devante Bond are active and will make their Bucs debuts, while DB Javien Elliott is active and can make his season debut.

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DeSean Jackson on Trump: 'Definitely ... making a statement'

Bucs WR DeSean Jackson, shown in preseason, wrote on Twitter on Saturday that he "definitely" will make a statement Sunday after President Donald Trump's comments about NFL players and national anthem protests.

LOREN ELLIOTT | TIMES

Bucs WR DeSean Jackson, shown in preseason, wrote on Twitter on Saturday that he "definitely" will make a statement Sunday after President Donald Trump's comments about NFL players and national anthem protests.

Bucs players continue to react to Donald Trump's comments Friday night about protests during the national anthem, and Pro Bowl receiver DeSean Jackson posted on Twitter on Saturday night that he's "definitely" making a statement during Sunday's game in response.

"I definitely will be making a statement," Jackson wrote in a series of tweets. "No disrespect to our military ... but we have to stick together as people !! Unity."

Jackson and other players -- both Bucs and across the NFL -- have reacted to Trump saying in Alabama on Friday night that players who protest during the national anthem should be "fired," going so far as to call them "sons of bitches." Even NFL commissioner Roger Goodell responded, calling his comments "divisive."

Jackson had more to say about Trump: "How is it that players taking a kneel is disrespectiful to our country but that clown that's suppose (sic) to be our president can call us players that have a voice and a stand to freedom sons of a bi***! don't get it !! What happen to a free country ... Dude is a joke." …

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Bucs' Chris Baker, Jacquies Smith out vs. Vikings

Bucs defensive tackle Chris Baker, shown in training camp, will miss Sunday's game at Minnesota after missing practice all week with illness.

LOREN ELLIOTT | TIMES

Bucs defensive tackle Chris Baker, shown in training camp, will miss Sunday's game at Minnesota after missing practice all week with illness.

Two Bucs defensive linemen -- starting DT Chris Baker and backup DE Jacquies Smith -- did not make the trip to Minnesota and will not play Sunday after missing practice all week due to illness.

Baker and Smith had been listed as doubtful on Friday's injury report, but are now out and will be inactive Sunday against the Vikings. Baker's absence means veteran Clinton McDonald is back in the starting lineup and will see more action. The Bucs now will go with only three defensive tackles, with Sealver Siliga as the backup, unless they make a move to promote Channing Ward from the practice squad. Smith hasn't played in more than a year, and missed last week's game as he recovers from knee surgery.

The Bucs had already ruled LB Kwon Alexander out for Sunday's game after he missed all week with a hamstring injury. Rookie Kendell Beckwith will step in for him at middle linebacker, with Adarius Glanton likely stepping in at strongside linebacker.

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Bucs players respond to Trump comments on anthem protests

Bucs players Mike Evans and Jameis Winston stand with coach Dirk Koetter during the national anthem in a game played in San Diego last season.

LOREN ELLIOTT | TIMES

Bucs players Mike Evans and Jameis Winston stand with coach Dirk Koetter during the national anthem in a game played in San Diego last season.

President Donald Trump shared his thoughts Friday night on NFL players protesting during the national anthem, suggesting that NFL owners should "fire" players who kneel during the anthem in protest. His remarks are alreading drawing responses from many NFL players, including some Bucs.

"Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he's fired. He's fired!'" Trump said at a rally in Alabama, with video of the speech widely broadcast later on TV news outlets. "You know, some owner is gonna do that. He's gonna say 'That guy that disrespects our flag, he's fired.' And that owner, they don't know it ... They're friends of mine, many of them. They don't know it. They'll be the most popular person, for a week. They'll be the most popular person in this country."

The Bucs play Sunday in Minnesota and are on the road Saturday, so there are no opportunities to interview players for an response to Trump's comments, but two posted on Twitter in response to what they heard Friday night. …

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Bucs have chance to beat Vikings in their third stadium

Bucs RB Doug Martin runs during Tampa Bay's 36-17 win at the Vikings in 2012, in what was then called Mall of America Field. If Tampa Bay wins Sunday, it will mark the first time they have road wins against the same NFL opponent in three different stadiums.

TIMES ARCHIVES (2012)

Bucs RB Doug Martin runs during Tampa Bay's 36-17 win at the Vikings in 2012, in what was then called Mall of America Field. If Tampa Bay wins Sunday, it will mark the first time they have road wins against the same NFL opponent in three different stadiums.

Here's a cool sign that the Bucs are getting up there as an NFL franchise: If Tampa Bay can win Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium, it will mark the first time the Bucs have posted road wins against the same NFL opponent in three different stadiums.

The Bucs had one of their first-ever road wins at old Metropolitan Stadium in 1978, and then got their first win in the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in 1983, making the Vikings one of 13 NFL teams the Bucs have beaten in two different stadiums.

That covers all kinds of situations, well beyond just a new home for an NFL opponent. The Bucs beat the Saints in Baton Rouge when they were relocated by Katrina. They beat the Bears in Champaign when Soldier Field was being rebuilt. They beat the Panthers at Clemson when their new stadium was still being built. They beat the Colts in Baltimore and Indianapolis. …

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Bucs' Chris Conte: 'If you play safety, you're going to get fined'

Bucs safety Chris Conte, left, makes a tackle during Sunday's win against the Bears.

MONICA HERNDON | TIMES

Bucs safety Chris Conte, left, makes a tackle during Sunday's win against the Bears.

Bucs safety Chris Conte has been fined by the NFL for a helmet-first hit on Bears receiver Josh Bellamy that resulted in a 15-yard penalty for unnecessary roughness in the fourth quarter of Sunday's win.

Conte said the league had notified his agent of the fine, but that he wasn't told the specifics as to why. ESPN reported it as a $24,000 fine, and the league's schedule of fines for 2017 lists the initial violation for "impermissable use of the helmet" as $24,309. He was previously fined $22,050 in 2014 for a hit against the Bills, and said he intends to appeal the current fine, saying it comes with playing his position.

"I'll appeal it and hopefully get some money back," Conte said after Friday's practice. "You play safety, you're going to get fined."

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Bucs LB Alexander, Vikings QB Bradford both out for Sunday

Bucs LB Kwon Alexander, shown making an interception in Sunday's win against the Bears, has been ruled out for Sunday's game at the Vikings due to a hamstring injury.

WILL VRAGOVIC | TIMES

Bucs LB Kwon Alexander, shown making an interception in Sunday's win against the Bears, has been ruled out for Sunday's game at the Vikings due to a hamstring injury.

Bucs middle linebacker Kwon Alexander, who left Sunday's season opener with a hamstring injury, has been ruled out for Tampa Bay's game at Minnesota this week, as has Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford.

Alexander, who did not practice at all this week, had said he would play Sunday, but that decision ultimately isn't his, and the team must look out for longterm health, as hamstring injuries can linger if they're not allowed time to heal properly. Rookie Kendell Beckwith, who played well in Alexander's absence, will now start at middle linebacker after starting at strongside last week.

Bradford's injury means the Bucs will face backup Case Keenum, who has beaten Tampa Bay in each of the last two years with the Rams. He's thrown three touchdown passes of 43 yards or longer in those games -- in the other 31 games since the start of 2015, all the other opposing quarterbacks have totaled three touchdown passes of 43 yards or longer. …

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Cannon Fodder podcast: Key matchups in Bucs-Vikings game

Defensive lineman Chris Baker is a question mark heading into Sunday's game against the Vikings.

LOREN ELLIOTT | Times

Defensive lineman Chris Baker is a question mark heading into Sunday's game against the Vikings.

In our latest Bucs Cannon Fodder podcast, Greg Auman breaks down five key matchups that will help decide Sunday's Bucs game against the Minnesota Vikings.

He looks at where the vulnerabilities might be in Minnesota's defense, which is loaded with five Pro Bowl players from last season. Listen below:

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McCoy back at practice, Alexander says he'll play vs. Vikings

Bucs DT Gerald McCoy, shown before Sunday's season opener against the Bears, returned to practice Thursday after missing a day with an ankle injury.

LOREN ELLIOTT | TIMES

Bucs DT Gerald McCoy, shown before Sunday's season opener against the Bears, returned to practice Thursday after missing a day with an ankle injury.

The Bucs are dealing with injuries and illness as they prepare for their first road game of 2017 at the Vikings on Sunday.

DT Gerald McCoy (ankle) was back at practice with limited participation, but the rest of the Bucs' injury report was unchanged -- LB Kwon Alexander missed a second straight day with the hamstring injury that sidelined him early in Sunday's game, though he said he'll be able to play Sunday in Minnesota.

Two players battling illness -- DT Chris Baker and DE Jacquies Smith -- missed a second day of practice, and coach Dirk Koetter said "we are talking about influenza officially diagnosed (and) contagious, so guys when they have it, they've got to stay out of the building." Baker started at defensive tackle in Sunday's win, while Smith was inactive as he recovers from knee surgery.

The Bucs had two players sidelined with illness last week, and both (Alexander and OL Evan Smith) played against the Bears. CB Brent Grimes is also listed as being limited by a shoulder injury, but should also be able to play Sunday.

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Bucs' Josh Robinson excited for return to Vikings

Bucs defensive back Josh Robinson, who led the team with 12 special-teams tackles last season, is excited to play Sunday at Minnesota, where he played his first four NFL seasons.

LOREN ELLIOTT | TIMES

Bucs defensive back Josh Robinson, who led the team with 12 special-teams tackles last season, is excited to play Sunday at Minnesota, where he played his first four NFL seasons.

For much of Josh Robinson's four seasons with the Vikings, there was excitement leading up to the arrival of the $1.1-billion U.S. Bank Stadium, which opened last season, just as Robinson signed with the Bucs.

"I knew that was coming, knew I would miss out on opening that new stadium," said Robinson, 26, who established himself as a special-teams leader last year with 12 tackles on coverage units and is now a special-teams captain after re-signing in the offseason. "I'm excited to go back there and compete against those guys."

The Vikings player that Robinson has kept in closest contact with is a guy he'll be going afte Sunday -- punt returner Marcus Sherels -- but he's still close with much of the Minnesota secondary, playing more as a defensive back than on special teams with the Vikings.

"It's exciting, just because I spent some time there," Robinson said. "Excited to go back and play against guys I competed against a lot in training camps. I'm looking forward to it."

Robinson said he knows the Vikings defense well -- he played under current head coach Mike Zimmer in 2014-15 -- and can lend some insights to the Bucs offensive players on what they'll face Sunday. …

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McCoy, Alexander, Baker among those missing practice

Bucs DT Gerald McCoy (ankle) and LB Kwon Alexander (hamstring) did not practice Wednesday. DT Chris Baker and DE Jacquies Smith with out with an illness. CB Brent Grimes (shoulder) was limited. LB Devante Bond (knee) had full participation.

“We have a little flu bug going through our team,’’ coach Dirk Koetter said. “We had a couple guys out today with the flu as well. It is going around. We’re taking every precaution we can. But it’s like everything else. You’ve just got to deal with it.’’

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Bucs indoor facility is not completed, but they used it anyway

A rendering of the Bucs' indoor practice facility.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

A rendering of the Bucs' indoor practice facility.

The Bucs indoor practice facility still is under construction. There is no air conditioning. Some walls are open and the turf field is not fully installed.

But it has a roof to shield the sun and the Bucs took advantage of that Wednesday.

For the first time, the team held its walk-through indoors in an effort just to escape the heat for about a half hour or so.

“It was fine,’’ coach Dirk Koetter said. “It was nice to get in there. It’s not done yet, but it was good to get us out of the heat for those 30 or 40 minutes. It’s going to be awesome. It’s not quite ready yet, but it’s going to be awesome.’’

The team had hoped the indoor facility would be completed sometime in Sept., but it doesn’t appear to be the case. Once it is fully operational, the Bucs will use it for all their walk-throughs and some practices to escape the heat or inclement weather.

In preparation for games on artificial surface like Sunday’s contest in Minnesota, the Bucs may opt to practice indoors as well.   

“It’s possible,’’ Koetter said. “I’m not going to pigeonhole anything right now. Today would’ve been a good day to go in there mainly because of the heat.’’

 

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