Capitals

Rested Buccaneers turn attention to Chiefs

Rested Buccaneers turn attention to Chiefs

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are rested and eager to resume their season.

Coaches and players reconvened Monday following a bye week that provided extra time to evaluate the team's progress through four games, focus on fundamentals in practice and make some adjustments that Greg Schiano hopes will be beneficial the final 12 weeks of the season.

The Bucs (1-3) will try to snap a three-game losing streak when they host the struggling Kansas City Chiefs (1-4) next Sunday.

``We evaluated a lot of things, and if your evaluations are correct and your adjustments are correct, then it helped,'' Schiano said of the break.

Since shutting down Cam Newton and beating the Carolina Panthers in the season opener, Tampa Bay has dropped consecutive games to the New York Giants, Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins by a combined 15 points.

Although the players didn't like the idea of having to wait two weeks for their next opportunity to end the skid, Schiano felt the open date fell at a good time.

The Bucs practiced last Tuesday and Wednesday before taking the remainder of the week off.

``Without a doubt ... it's good to get them some rest,'' Schiano said Monday, when the team got an early start on preparation for the Chiefs.

Players usually don't receive the game plan until Wednesday.

``The rest definitely helps,'' guard Carl Nicks said. ``I'm a little recharged, a little refreshed.''

The Bucs have played well at times, but also have been wildly inconsistent - sputtering for long stretches on offense and struggling defensively to stop opponents in critical situations.

``We're not anywhere near our potential. We've got to finish better, start better and be more consistent,'' Nicks said. ``Although we're 1-3, and that's not a good record to have, all of our games have been close and it's encouraging to know we can battle with any team in the NFL.''

Schiano reiterated that while the team's record could be better, it also could be worse.

Asked if he's concerned that the unbeaten Atlanta Falcons (5-0) are beginning to build a commanding lead in the normally tight NFC South, the first-year coach stressed his focus is solely on the Bucs.

``I'd be lying if I said I wasn't rooting for Washington this weekend,'' Schiano said, alluding to Atlanta's latest win. ``We can't handle what they do. We can only handle what we do. If we had done a little better job handling it, we wouldn't be talking about this. We can't do anything about the past, but we can do something about Sunday.''

Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said there's a positive vibe in the locker room, despite the slide that's extended a stretch in which the Bucs have lost 13 of 14 dating to last season.

``You know what's great about this team is everybody's so encouraged. Nobody's down,'' McCoy said, adding that this is a time for players to critique themselves critically and do whatever's necessary to eliminate mistakes that are affecting the club's chances of winning.

``Nobody wants to be 1-3. Nobody wants to be 2-2. Nobody wants to be 3-1,'' the third-year pro said. ``Everybody would like to be undefeated, but the reality is it's not going to happen.''

---

Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Quick Links

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: On to Vegas!

usatsi_10850115.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: On to Vegas!

The Capitals are the Eastern Conference Champions!

After dispatching Tampa Bay in Game 7, the Caps claimed the conference crown for just the second time in franchise history. But they're not done yet. Now it's on to Vegas to face the Golden Knights for the Stanley Cup.

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir break down the Caps' win over the Lightning and look ahead to the matchup with the Knights.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.

Quick Links

Michigan's Moritz Wagner could be Wizards' solution for a stretch-five

Michigan's Moritz Wagner could be Wizards' solution for a stretch-five

The pre-draft workout process can be an exhausting journey for players, with so many flights, hotel rooms and NBA arenas that they can all blend in together. Michigan big man Moritz Wagner, though, may have felt a sense of comfort in Washington for his pre-draft workout for the Wizards on Wednesday.

It was just over a year ago that his Michigan Wolverines cut down the nets at Capital One Arena as champions of the Big Ten conference.

"It was good memories, man. Never gets old," he said while glancing around the stadium.

Wagner, 21, will be seeing a lot more of Capital One Arena once he joins the NBA ranks and it is conceivable he ends up in Washington. They hold the 15th pick in the first round and the 44th pick in the second round and Wagner could be within their reach.

Wagner had an impressive workout in Washington and could provide what the Wizards need. He is a big, mobile and can spread the floor. Wagner was terrific at stepping out to hit threes off pick-and-rolls at Michigan and that ability would work well with Wizards All-Star point guard John Wall.

Wagner measured in at just under 7-feet at this month's NBA Combine, fifth-tallest among those who attended. He averaged 14.6 points as a junior this past season and made 39.4 percent of his threes on 4.1 attempts per game.

With three years of college experience and an NBA-ready jumper, Wagner believes he can step right in and help the Wizards.

"I think what we did at Michigan, sharing the ball and playing as a team, very organized basketball, that can help big-time," he said. "It's basically pro basketball I was playing on a different level."

As Wagner will tell you, he is very confident in his abilities. He is comfortable in his own skin and that includes openly discussing his faults. He feels good about his ability to score at the next level. Defense is where he needs to prove himself.

Despite his size, Wagner wasn't much of a rim protector in college. He averaged just a half-block a game as a junior. The Wizards need rim protection badly and he likely would not provide that.

Wagner, though, believes he can bring more to the table defensively than the numbers would suggest.

"I think I've been an offensive guy all of my life, but the more that you mature as a player, you understand that both sides are important. Without defense, you aren't going to play at any level," he said.

"I think the most important thing that I wasn't able to show in college is that I'm able to switch the ball-screen, especially with the way the league is going. Switch on everything and stay in front of guards as a big guy."

Wagner is from Germany and looks up to Mavs legend Dirk Nowitzki, who is entering his 21st season and will be in the Hall of Fame someday. Nowitzki's game has always been built around shooting and, though he developed into a decent shot-blocker in his prime, was never an elite rim protector.

Wagner hopes to follow in his footsteps playing a similar style.

"He was my MJ. He kind of shows you 'okay, this is possible and this is doable.' It's just basketball," Wagner said. "It gives you a lot of hope. It gives you a lot of belief and motivation."

Hear more from Wagner in his one-on-one interview with Chris Miller in our latest Wizards Tipoff podcast. His interview can also be found in the video above:

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!