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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs waive former starting CB Johnthan Banks

Johnthan Banks, a former second-round pick and two-year starter for the Bucs, was waived Monday, having lost even the special-teams role he'd been relegated to this season.

Banks, who started 30 of 32 games in 2013-14, had lost his starting job and didn't play a snap on defense all season, limited to coverage units on special teams. In the Bucs' last two games, he'd been a healthy scratch and was inactive, and was waived Monday when the Bucs needed to sign RB Mike James for depth with starter Jacquizz Rodgers sidelined by a foot injury.

"Tampa it's been real," Banks wrote on his Instagram page on Monday afternoon.

Banks, a Thorpe Award winner at Mississippi State, had seven interceptions in his first two NFL seasons, but was benched during last season, returning as a starter for the final two games. When the Bucs drafted Vernon Hargreaves in the first round and signed Pro Bowl veteran Brent Grimes, he was left as a backup. There's a good chance he'll be claimed by another team and playing again soon.

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With Jacquizz Rodgers hurt, Bucs bring back RB Mike James

Mike James had made the Bucs' initial cuts but was waived-injured in Week 1.


Mike James had made the Bucs' initial cuts but was waived-injured in Week 1.

The Bucs are now on their seventh running back of 2016.

With fill-in starter Jacquizz Rodgers injuring his foot late in Sunday's loss to the Raiders, the Bucs on Monday agreed to terms with Mike James, who had made the team's initial cuts but was waived-injured in Week 1. James only recently became eligible to re-sign with the Bucs after his injury settlement, and was on the Lions' practice squad until joining the Bucs on Monday.

RELATED: Jacquizz Rodgers' injury costs Bucs third starting running back

James' signing doesn't bode well for Rodgers, who scored the go-ahead touchdown with 3:48 left in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game, but hurt himself late in regulation and did not play in overtime. The Bucs also have veteran Antone Smith, who had four carries for 16 yards on Sunday, and rookie Peyton Barber, who was limited to three snaps and one carry for 1 yard. Barber played well in the Bucs' win at San Francisco, rushing for 84 yards, including a 44-yard touchdown. …

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Robert Ayers back for Bucs today; Martin, McDonald still out

Robert Ayers, out since Week 2 with an ankle injury, is active for the Bucs' home game against the Raiders today.

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Robert Ayers, out since Week 2 with an ankle injury, is active for the Bucs' home game against the Raiders today.

DE Robert Ayers, out since Week 2 with an ankle injury, is active for the Bucs' home game against the Raiders today, adding a big boost to Tampa Bay's pass rush.

While Ayers and Gerald McCoy (calf) are active and can start against Oakland, the Bucs are still without DT Clinton McDonald (hamstring), as well as RB Doug Martin (hamstring) for the fifth straight game.

The Bucs' other inactives are simply healthy scratches -- rookie DE Channing Ward won't play as the ninth DL, CB Johnthan Banks is inactive for the second straight game, and rookies Caleb Benenoch and Leonard Wester are inactive as the eighth and ninth offensive linemen. Ryan Griffin, as the third QB, is also not dressed.

The Raiders will start Austin Howard at right tackle for the third game in a row as starter Menelik Watson is again inactive with injury. The Raiders have started three different right tackles in their eight games this season. Also inactive for Oakland are CBs Dexter McDonald and Antonio Hamilton, Watson and OT Matt McCants, TE Ryan O'Malley, DT Stacy McGee and QB Connor Cook.

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Koetter to fans: Bucs aware they've lost home advantage

Facing a critical three-game home stand, coach Dirk Koetter indicated Thursday the Bucs don’t have the same home-field advantage at Raymond James Stadium as other NFL teams.

He also said the Bucs’ 3-15 home record since the start of 2014 is largely responsible for it.

"Every place is different. Every place you play on the road is different as far as how hard it is to play there and how hard it is to hear there," Koetter said Thursday. "We’re not fooling anybody that some teams travel a lot better than others."

"And, you know, players notice. Coaches notice. That’s the truth. And I’m 1,000 percent aware that the more you win, the better it gets. But with that said, do we have a home-field advantage? That’s our job to create it."

That said, following the Bucs’ 34-17 win over San Francisco Sunday, Koetter pleaded for Bucs fans to fill the lower bowl of RJS against the Raiders, a team that has a national following similar to the Denver Broncos. In fact, Broncos fans outnumbered Tampa Bay fans by the end of the Bucs’ 27-7 loss at RJS Oct. 2.

"Go take a picture of any of them," Koetter said. "Denver, Chicago, Giants. Take a picture. See what you get. …

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Bucs' Adjei-Barimah: Raiders' Mack 'a terror'

Most of the Bucs' roster will get their first look at Raiders DE/OLB Khalil Mack on Sunday, but nickel cornerback Jude Adjei-Barimah needs no introduction.

Long before Mack had 15 sacks in 2015 and made the All-Pro team at two positions in the same year, Adjei-Barimah has the misfortunate line up against Mack briefly when his Bowling Green team was facing Mack's Buffalo squad for the Mid-American Conference East division title at Ralph Wilson Stadium in 2013.

"I remember Khalil Mack, he used to stay out there on fourth down for the punt team, and I was kind of like the slot," Adjei-Barimah recalled Thursday. "They were in their safe defense, and he bullrushed me all the way into the punter. Luckily the punter got it off, but after that, I told Coach: 'Look, unless somebody's coming to help me block him, it was going to be a long day.' Khalil Mack was a terror for all four years we were at Bowling Green. He was always a guy you highlight before the game because he was such an exceptional talent. I'm actually happy to see him doing so well, because I like to see other guys from the MAC excel in this league." …

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Bucs gunners again forced rare turnover on special teams

Positions on special-teams units aren't as well known as "quarterback" and "linebacker," but the last two Bucs games have shown how much of a game-changing difference can come from gunners battling jammers in punt coverage.

In football parlance, the "gunners" are two players who line up wide like receivers on a punting team -- they're the only players allowed to cross the line of scrimmage before the punt, taking off with the hopes of minimizing the returner's ability to get up field. The receiving team will line up "jammers" -- and sometimes more than one -- to guard the gunner like a defensive back, trying to reroute him from a direct path to the returner.

Aggressive play by the gunners can limit or often eliminate the threat of an opposing punt return, forcing a fair catch or better still, downing a punt deep in the opponent's territory. The Bucs use two players as their primary gunners -- receiver Russell Shepard, their special-teams captain, and cornerback Josh Robinson, who hasn't played a single snap on defense but is a key player on coverage units. …

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Bucs' Jameis Winston sharp on third down in beating 49ers

The Bucs' turnaround from a 14-0 deficit to a 34-17 victory over the 49ers on Sunday coincided with QB Jameis Winston clicking on third down and moving the chains with passes to Mike Evans and Russell Shepard.

Third down wasn't a strong point early for the Bucs -- they came up short on third-and-2 on the first drive, Winston threw an interception that set up a touchdown for a 14-0 49ers lead, and they came up a yard short again on third-and-4, with Winston frustrated enough to draw a 15-yard penalty. But after going 0-for-4 on third down to start the game, the Bucs would convert six of their next nine in taking the game over.

At the end of the first half, Winston hit Shepard to convert a third-and-3, then converted a third-and-9 with his 19-yard touchdown pass to Shepard to take the lead with 48 seconds before halftime. In the third quarter, Winston connected with Evansto convert a third-and-9, then found him in the end zone on third-and-3 for a 5-yard score, converting a red-zone and third-down opportunity to give the Bucs a 27-14 lead. Late, as the Bucs tried to salt away the clock, Winston found Evans to convert a third-and-6 as well. …

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Bucs notes: Rodgers shoulders load with 154 yards

Two weeks ago, Jacquizz Rodgers had never had a 100-yard game in six seasons in the NFL, nor more than 18 carries in any game.

For the second game in a row, he's reset his career high in yards, grinding out 154 on 26 carries in the Bucs' 34-17 win against the 49ers in Sunday. In two weeks, he's had 56 carries, the second-most two-game total in the last 20 years for a Bucs runner.

"When you've got guys up front, blocking like they are, finishing through the whistle, it makes my job a lot easier," said Rodgers, who was signed in Week 2 as a No. 3 back and has stepped up in two games as a starter. "I've been waiting on this moment, so my job is to take full advantage of it. I try to get better and better every week. I try to top my performance from the previous week. That's my goal." …

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Koetter: Cecil Shorts will start at WR vs. 49ers

Cecil Shorts, 28, who previously played for the Texans before signing with the Buccaneers.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Cecil Shorts, 28, who previously played for the Texans before signing with the Buccaneers.

The Bucs will start veteran Cecil Shorts at receiver on Sunday against the 49ers in place of the injured Vincent Jackson, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said on Sirius XM NFL radio Saturday morning.

Shorts, 28, has missed the past four weeks with a hamstring injury suffered on his first and only catch of the season in Week 2 at Arizona. He's practiced all week and should be healthy for Sunday's game, allowing the Bucs to keep receiver Adam Humphries in the slot, where he's played alongside starter Mike Evans.

The Bucs signed Shorts after he was released by the Texans in preseason -- he had 42 catches for 484 yards last season, and averaged 58 catches for 771 yards in the three previous seasons while with the Jaguars. He overlapped with Koetter in Jacksonville during his rookie year in 2011.

The Bucs lost Jackson to an ACL injury that will sideline him at least eight weeks and likely the rest of the season. The Bucs would have Evans, Humphries, Shorts and Russell Shepard as their top four receivers Sunday, with Louis Murphy unlikely to play as he's still in his first week of practice as he returns from ACL surgery in November. …

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DT McDonald, DE Ayers, RB Martin out for Bucs on Sunday

The Bucs will face the 49ers on Sunday without starting DT Clinton McDonald, who was ruled out Friday after returning to practice for two days in a limited capacity as he recovers from a hamstring injury.

Also ruled out were RB Doug Martin (hamstring) and DE Robert Ayers (ankle), who will both miss their fourth straight game due to injuries suffered in Week 2. Neither has practiced all week. McDonald misses his second straight game, which pushes backup Akeem Spence into a starting role as he had in last week's win against Carolina.

The Bucs listed five players as questionable, but all have had consistent participation in practice and should be able to play Sunday: DT Gerald McCoy (calf), TE Luke Stocker (ankle), WR Cecil Shorts (ankle), C Joe Hawley (knee) and CB Jude Adjei-Barimah (knee).

As expected, the 49ers will be without their top running back, Carlos Hyde, who was ruled out Friday with a shoulder injury suffered Friday. Their backups have had only limited playing time this season, a major advantage for the Bucs.

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WR Donteea Dye 'not ready' physically, Koetter says

As the Bucs seek help to offset the loss of veteran receiver Vincent Jackson to a knee injury this week, they may need replacements for the replacements.

After the team's final practice in Tampa on Friday morning, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said that second-year pro Donteea Dye, signed to the practice squad Monday and promoted to the active roster Wednesday, is "not ready" physically, suggesting he won't be playing Sunday when the Bucs face the 49ers.

"Not ready, that's what I'd say," Koetter said of Dye's progress this week. "And I don't mean any disrespect. I'd say he's not quite ready."

Dye was in position to make the Bucs' roster in preseason, but suffered a hamstring injury and was waived-injured, missing about a month before he was healthy enough to work out for other teams. With Jackson on injured reserve, he could have given the Bucs another option in the passing game, familiar with the offense from having played as a rookie last season. Koetter said Dye had some "rust" in his first few practices.

"He's familiar. He knows what he's doing," Koetter said. "You've got to remember now, DD, he was rehabbing an injury while he was out. He wasn't just at home lying on his couch." …

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Bucs at 49ers: Five things to watch on Sunday

The Bucs make the second of three long trips out west, hoping they'll fare better than in their 40-7 loss at Arizona in Week 2. They opened as a road favorite, no common feat for Tampa Bay, and here are five things to watch for as the Bucs take on the 49ers in Santa Clara on Sunday:

1. Can Jacquizz Rodgers exploit the NFL's worst run defense in 31 years? San Francisco is giving up 174 yards per game on the ground, worst in the NFL by 27 yards and on pace to be the NFL's worst run defense since the 1985 Houston Oilers. They gave up 312 rushing yards in last week's loss to Buffalo -- the most against a 49ers team since 1958, five years before Chip Kelly was born -- and they've given up a 100-yard rusher five weeks in a row.

Granted, that's included some really good backs, like Buffalo's LeSean McCoy, Arizona's David Johnson and Cowboys rookie Ezekiel Elliott. One of the players who could see more snaps as the 49ers try to fix their run defense is LB Shayne Skov, who was cut from the Bucs' practice squad in 2014.

Can Rodgers match or even somehow improve on his 101 yards on 30 carries in the win against Carolina? Expect the Bucs to run early and often to find out. …

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'Get on your horse:' Bucs defense respects Kaepernick's speed

It has been seven years since Jacquies Smith went up against Colin Kaepernick in college, but his memory is vivid.

"The fastest QB I ever played in college," said Smith, who's on injured reserve with a knee injury and won't get to chase him Sunday as the Bucs play at the 49ers. "It's not so much the speed, it's the strides. Once he gets going, it's really unbelievable the speed he can build up. I remember him running the Pistol offense in college. One of the toughest outs I had that whole year."

Smith's Missouri teams beat Kaepernick and Nevada in 2008 (69-17) and in 2009 (31-21), but Smith remembers well how dangerous Kaepernick's dual-threat ability was, both in preparing for the games and in trying to contain him on the field. The Bucs have the same urgency this week as they prepare to face him in his second start of the season.

"You want to keep him in the pocket, don't let him roll out to his throwing hand for sure," Smith said. "You don't want him out in open space, to be able to make those creative plays. I call them 'video game plays,' honestly." …

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Bucs studying cause of excess in soft-tissue injuries

Forecasters say a cold front is approaching Tampa Bay that should bring cooler temperatures this weekend, but not soon enough for the Bucs, who practiced in 88-degree heat on Thursday.

For a team that has been hit hard by a series of soft tissue injuries to some of their biggest stars, how much is dehydration factoring into all those muscle pulls and strains?

Running back Doug Martin, defensive tackle Clinton McDonald and receiver Donteea Dye, who was waived injured in Aug. before re-signing this week, all have suffered hamstring pulls. Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy missed the Oct. 10 game at Carolina with a calf injury.

In the Bucs 37-32 loss to the Los Angeles Rams at Raymond James Stadium Sept. 25, about two dozen Bucs players needed to take intravenous fluids at some point during the game. Bucs coach Dirk Koetter says the team is trying to determine whether there is any common cause to the soft tissue injuries. …

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Koetter on San Francisco in '85: 'Unique experience'

As the Bucs go to San Francisco this weekend, head coach Dirk Koetter returns to the place where he got his first college coaching job, as offensive coordinator at Division II San Francisco State for a single season in 1985.

"What a unique experience, coming from a small town in Idaho," Koetter said. "We sold hot dogs on the quad every Thursday to raise money for our trips. A big recruiting trip was us deciding if we were going to pay for a guy's lunch when he came on campus."

The Golden Gators had only three full-time coaches -- current Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, amazingly, was the offensive line coach -- and Koetter had a $24,000 salary and was asked to teach five classes, including advanced tennis, advanced volleyball and weightlifting.

It was the 1980s and San Francisco, so even the political activism of the day was something new to Koetter, who was just 26 after being a high school head coach back in Idaho after college. …

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