TAMPA — Bucs rookie QB Mike Glennon has arm strength, but a weakness of the team's offense has been the deep passing game.
Glennon averages only 5.8 yards per attempt (32nd among quarterbacks with at least 100 attempts) and has only three completions of 30 yards or more. The Bucs have drawn three pass interferences over the past two games on long passes. But it won't get easier.
The season-ending hamstring injury to WR Mike Williams has led to more defensive attention on Vincent Jackson, who led the league in yards per catch last season.
"I think we're going to see him do it in games," coach Greg Schiano said of Glennon completing long passes. "He does it out there (in practice) all the time. He's very accurate, good touch, understands placement.
"It doesn't always have to be deep and outside. We can do deep all over the field. We'll continue to take shots. I think those deep, outside comebacks that he's hit Tiquan Underwood on, he can rip those."
Glennon remains confident the home run balls will come.
"We're going to keep firing out shots … when it presents itself," he said. "But if not, check it down to our backs because sometimes some of our most important parts of the drive are a big play is called and we throw it to the back and he gets 10, 12 yards. I just have to keep trusting my eyes, and when I think it's there, let it fly."
PUNT PROBLEM: In consecutive games, the Bucs have allowed a big punt return. On Nov. 3, the Seahawks' Golden Tate raced 71 yards. On Monday, the Dolphins' Marcus Thigpen went 34 to negate a 62-yard punt by Michael Koenen and set up a field goal.
"That one (against Miami) … we had guys not go to their landmarks," Schiano said. "We had guys that lost contain. That's how you lose games right there with field position. Fortunately, the defense was able to make them kick a field goal. But absolutely it was a tremendous punt, and all we had to do was do our job as a coverage unit and we get them down."
The Bucs entered Thursday fifth worst in the league in punt coverage at 13.5 yards per return. In the first seven games, Tampa Bay gave up 63 yards on 10 returns. In the past two, it has given up 126 on four.
"Golden Tate, he's really strong," Schiano said. "There, it wasn't much assignment as just not strong enough play. He broke six tackles on the play."
Schiano has been pleased with Koenen, who besides a shanked 21-yarder had three inside the 10 and three touchbacks Monday.
"Mike's such an unselfish player because we've asked him to do some things in the punting game that without a shadow of a doubt decrease his gross punting," Schiano said. "But he's a team guy and truly wants to win."
RED FLAGGED: Schiano called returner Eric Page's fourth-quarter personal foul, when he hit a Dolphins player after a punt went out of bounds, a "rookie mistake." But he made it clear it won't be tolerated.
"It better never happen again," Schiano said. "Something even in the same family better not happen again. And I think it's safe to say it won't."
Injury report: Schiano said DE Da'Quan Bowers (concussion-like symptoms) has not been cleared to practice but more should be known about his status today. Schiano said LG Carl Nicks (MRSA foot surgery) is getting better, but his status for the rest of the season hasn't been determined.