Bucs notes: Smith 'loves' larger practice squads
TAMPA -- The NFL has expanded each team's practice squad from eight to 10 players for the 2014 and 2015 seasons, and Bucs coach Lovie Smith said he likes the idea of being able to keep more players with the team.
"That's an easy one, a coach getting more players," Smith said. "I think it's a great thing. There are a lot of young players that just aren't ready, for whatever reason. I'd say it's universal in all the coaches loving that decision."
The league will also allow each team to place two players with up to two years of NFL experience, which could change the decisions on who is kept for the 53-man roster. Practice-squad players are free to sign to another team's active roster.
"Our roster, in my mind, has already changed based on that decision," he said.
INJURY UPDATE: Smith said CB Mike Jenkins, out two weeks with a hamstring injury, will miss his third preseason game Saturday at Buffalo.
Other players who had been held out -- DE Michael Johnson, CB Alterraun Verner and DE Steven Means -- who are back practicing and could play some Saturday. Other players remaining out Wednesday were DE Da'Quan Bowers, DE Will Gholston, RB Mike James, CB Rashaan Melvin and LB Brandon Magee.
ONE IN, ONE OUT: The Bucs released veteran WR Lavelle Hawkins, who had caught a touchdown in the final minute of Saturday's game but wasn't working with any of the special-teams units.
With Hawkins gone, the Bucs signed offensive tackle Edawn Coughman, who played at Division II Shaw University and briefly in the CFL in 2011. He's likely a short-term fix with third-team tackles J.B. Shugarts and Matt Patchan (Armwood) held out of practice Wednesday with undisclosed injuries.
THIS AND THAT: With midday temperatures in the 90s, Smith said Wednesday's drills were "as good a practice as we've had." ... Smith said his starters Saturday at Buffalo will play into the third quarter. He said most of his roster decisions have already been made, with a few positions still undetermined.