TAMPA — The first aftershocks of the Bucs' offensive line struggles in Friday's preseason-opening loss to the Jaguars came Sunday. Unheralded Jace Daniels saw his first action with the first line, and veteran Jamon Meredith was out of the mix at guard.
"They want to see if I can step up and be on this 53(-man roster)," Daniels said after working all practice as the first-team right guard. "I'm feeling good out here. (Today) will be a better day. It's a little different out there blocking Gerald McCoy."
Daniels, 24, signed last year as an undrafted rookie from Division II Northern Michigan. He was among the final cuts but spent 12 weeks on the practice squad. He had worked with the second-string line at guard and center, and now has a chance to prove himself as the fifth player to see first-team reps at guard.
Though Oniel Cousins held his spot as the first-team left guard, Daniels pushed Meredith — who has 20 starts in the past two years — to working as the second-team left tackle.
"To get to the first team, you have to … do some good things in practice, and Jace has been doing that throughout, whether it be at center or guard," coach Lovie Smith said.
"Jamon didn't play as well as he needed to, and we realize he can play guard and tackle, so we're going to let him concentrate a little bit more at the tackle position and give that next group of guards an opportunity. Jace is the next guy."
Second-year pro Patrick Omameh and rookie Kadeem Edwards, who have gotten looks with the first team in camp, worked as the second-team guards Sunday.
MEANS, AN END: Second-year DE Steven Means, who had the Bucs' only sack Friday, was held out of practice with what Smith called a groin injury. Neither seemed concerned that the problem is long term, and his absence gives more time to USF alum Ryne Giddins, who signed last week and played 14 snaps Friday.
SPECIAL-TEAMS SEARCHING: Smith said he was pleased by his special-teams unit Friday, but he doesn't know who his returners are. "Our returners have to do a better job. Kind of as simple as that," he said. "We're looking for a guy."
The Bucs have established starters at punter and kicker in Michael Koenen and Connor Barth. Pat Murray connected on an extra point and averaged 45 yards on two punts. Smith said he'll continue to get a look to challenge at both spots.
THIS AND THAT: Former USF safety Mark Joyce, who was signed last week and saw one snap on special teams Friday, was waived. No corresponding addition was made, so the Bucs have a spot available to sign a player. … Lakewood High's Louis Murphy caught two touchdown passes in 11-on-11 drills, including a long pass over the middle from QB Josh McCown. The best defensive play was nickel defensive back Leonard Johnson's goal-line interception on a pass intended for RB Jeff Demps. … LB Brandon Magee, who had three tackles Friday (and an unnecessary roughness penalty) worked with the second-string defense.
Contact Greg Auman at [email protected] and (813) 226-3346. Follow @gregauman.