Bucs hope to improve on early scoring woes
TAMPA -- As the Bucs come off their bye week with a game Sunday at Washington, one early area for improvement is first-quarter scoring, as Tampa Bay is still seeking its first touchdown in an opening quarter this season.
"We do want to get a fast start for sure, especially when you are on the road," said coach Lovie Smith, whose team has been outscored 38-9 in the first quarter this season. "Sometimes it's hard to get that taken care of ... but hopefully we can get off to a good start, (even if) that's with our defense going out on the football field first."
In last year's win at Washington, the Bucs got a 19-yard interception return for a touchdown from CB Johnthan Banks, sparking them to a 10-0 first-quarter lead.
First-quarter scoring woes are nothing new for the Bucs, who ranked 31st last year with just 2.7 points per game in the opening quarter. This season they're averaging 1.8 points, which ranks 29th, and they're allowing 7.6 points, which ranks 31st.
"Maybe this week we take the (step) of 'Hey, let's get us a touchdown in the first quarter,'" rookie QB Jameis Winston said. "It's just getting better every single week, and we get it done how we get it done."
INJURY UPDATE: The Bucs had only three players held out of Wednesday's practice, with TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (shoulder) and LG Logan Mankins (groin) joined by LB Bruce Carter, who has a thigh injury.
Seferian-Jenkins had expressed hope he could play Sunday after missing the last three games, and he was busy before practice, throwing and catching with offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter. Mankins is two weeks removed from his injury, which ended a personal streak of 40 consecutive games played, with backup tackle Kevin Pamphile filling in well in his place.
Carter was signed this spring to be the team's middle linebacker, but rookie Kwon Alexander took that job in preseason, so Carter's main role has been on special teams, while backing up Danny Lansanah at strongside linebacker.
Two new players joined the injury list Wednesday, with OT Reid Fragel (head) and DT Tony McDaniel (groin) both listed as "limited participation." Other players who were limited: DT Gerald McCoy (shoulder), WR Russell Shepard (hamstring) and C Evan Smith (ankle).
RESTART: The Bucs sent a small group of players -- including WR Mike Evans and CB Tim Jennings -- back into One Buc Place briefly at the start of practice, stopping a stretching session until they returned.
"You're asking me to go over something that's between the team and I? I choose not to do that," Lovie Smith said.
THIS AND THAT: The Redskins had seven players held out of Wednesday's practice with injuries, including CBs DeAngelo Hall and Chris Culliver and LB Keenan Robinson and WR DeSean Jackson. Former Armwood and Gators RB Matt Jones, who missed Sunday's game with a toe injury, was able to practice with full participation. ... Former Bucs draft pick Joey Iosefa, a fullback from Hawaii, was signed Wednesday to the Patriots' practice squad. ... Bucs' practice-squad WR Evan Spencer was a Redskins draft pick, with the team until final preseason cuts. He'll be working on the scout team this week, simulating his former teammates to prepare the Bucs for Sunday's game.