HOUSTON — During a game in which the Bucs were supposed to solve any lingering questions about their lineup, it seems they realized against the Texans on Thursday they have a new concern: What in the world is up with Matt Bryant?
The question has to be asked after another couple of misses from Tampa Bay's usually reliable kicker, one that sailed wide right from 36 yards. Bryant connected from 40, 29 and 31 yards in the fourth quarter but was short on an earlier attempt from 54.
Of more concern are three errant kicks from inside 40 yards during the preseason. Bryant finished the preseason 7-for-12, having missed from 36 and 23 yards entering Thursday.
It may seem strange to question the status of a man who once converted a team-record 62-yard winner, but the Bucs rely on the kicking game because they play many low-scoring games.
While many teams invite a second kicker to training camp to promote competition, but the Bucs did not do so.
Bryant converted 81.5 percent of his attempts in his previous six seasons and vows to rectify his issues, which appear to be more pronounced when kicking from the right hash mark.
"It still seems to be giving me fits for whatever reason," Bryant, 33, said. "Starting with the New Orleans game (season opener), I'm back to 0-for-0.
"This has been the best camp of my career, minus these couple of games. I almost wish I hadn't done so good in camp. But I'll be fine and help this team any way I can."
GUSTAV WATCH: Soon-to-be Hurricane Gustav doesn't appear to threaten Tampa Bay, but it could affect the Bucs.
The Saints reportedly were strongly considering moving their operations to Indianapolis ahead of the storm, which forecasters predict could hit the New Orleans area early next week.
If Gustav continues on its current path, New Orleans could order evacuations, which would cast at least some doubt on the viability of playing the Sept. 7 opener against the Bucs in the Superdome.
SPURLOCK ON BUBBLE: Micheal Spurlock bobbled and lost a punt in the second quarter. Spurlock was Dexter Jackson's primary competition as a return man, but his drop coupled with Jackson's 83-yard punt-return touchdown likely means the end for Spurlock.
CHUKWURAH STEPS IN: DE Patrick Chukwurah, signed Wednesday after the trade of Marques Douglas, started. His familiarity with the system made that possible; Chukwurah spent last season and most of the offseason on the roster. Whether he sticks is another story. Chukwurah hesitated to predict his fate come final cuts Saturday, but said he is nervous about his potential release.
INJURY REPORT: S Sabby Piscitelli suffered what was described as a knee sprain in the third quarter and limped off after a couple minutes on the turf. He did not believe the injury was serious.