TAMPA — Two days before the Bucs' preseason opener at Philadelphia, two key offensive players were held out with injuries, with RB Charles Sims nursing an ankle injury from Monday's practice at Tropicana Field and WR Vincent Jackson (undisclosed) also sidelined Tuesday.
"We'll have to see," coach Dirk Koetter said of Sims' readiness for Thursday's game. "We'll have to see about Charles, we'll have to see about Vincent, but anybody who's healthy will play. If it's close, on a proven guy, we'll hold them out."
G J.R. Sweezy, who hasn't practiced since signing with Tampa Bay in March, hasn't been at the last two practices — even as a spectator — and Koetter said he is in California seeing a doctor, presumably about back problems. He's also had calf issues.
"I'm not the doctor and I haven't talked to the doctor, but we'll let you know as soon we know something we can tell you," Koetter said.
With Sims sidelined, fourth-year pro Mike James got more reps at running back, though Koetter said he'll be challenged by Storm Johnson and rookie Peyton Barber, who have shown promise as well.
"I've always liked Mike James," Koetter said. "Mike James is a solid player, but he's in a battle right now with Storm Johnson and Peyton Barber. Your 3-4-5-6 running backs will get some good looks in the preseason."
BLESSING IN DISGUISE: Austin Seferian-Jenkins still is battling for a starting job, but the oft-injured tight end has a healthy attitude.
Seferian-Jenkins, who is running with the second-team offense behind starter Cameron Brate, said he benefited from the "wake-up call" he received in June when Koetter tossed him out of a practice during an organized team activity.
"He's a detail-oriented guy," Seferian-Jenkins said of Koetter. "If I want to be a great player that I'm capable of being, and I think I can be a really special player, I've got to be detail oriented. And Coach Koetter is not going to let me be below that. He wants me to be a great player and he won't settle for me being average, he won't settle for me being good, and he won't settle for me being great. I want to be special. He wants me to be special and I'm working towards that and I respect him to the fullest. I thank God every single day he kicked me out of practice. …
"Since then, I've been enjoying every single moment I've had. I've loved it. I love Coach Koetter. … I'm really seizing opportunities and I'm loving just being out here playing football."
DEFENSE DOMINATES: The Bucs defense dominated during the short red-zone team period Tuesday, holding the offense out of the end zone on nine straight plays.
"Our defense did a great job," T Demar Dotson said. "We went 0-for-9 and they just had the better day. We have to come out here and the next time we get the opportunity, we've got to do better. We're not going to harp on it, we are just going to watch the film and get better at it."
Koetter was more direct.
"My impression was the defense kicked butt," Koetter said. "The offense was 0-for-9 inside the 10; that's a great job by our defense."