TAMPA — Add yet another intriguing new name to the Bucs' search for a starting kicker.
The Bucs acquired rookie K Kyle Brindza from the Lions on Monday, sending Detroit TE Tim Wright, who was likely facing a cut as the Bucs trim their roster.
Brindza, 22, wasn't drafted out of Notre Dame but has been impressive in preseason for Detroit. He is 3-for-3 on field goals, connecting from 41, 49 and 51 yards; and 2-for-2 on extra points, and averaged 49.3 yards on four punts (three downed inside the 20). Seven of his eight kickoffs have resulted in touchbacks.
He'll join a close competition between last year's kicker, Patrick Murray, and Connor Barth, who was Tampa Bay's kicker from 2009-12 and was re-signed last week to challenge Murray.
"We are always looking to improve our ballclub," coach Lovie Smith said.
The Bucs are a combined 2-for-6 on field goals in preseason, with Murray and Barth missing in Saturday's loss to the Browns. Murray also missed an extra point and two field goals in the first two games.
"We need someone we can rely on in those situations," Smith said. "You can't miss an extra point … and in field goals, when we do it, we need an automatic three, pretty much. Patrick knows that."
It's the second year in a row the Bucs have traded Wright on the eve of final roster cuts. The Bucs got Wright for nothing this spring, claiming him off waivers when he was cut by the Patriots. Last year, the Bucs dealt Wright and a draft pick to acquire Pro Bowl G Logan Mankins.
The Bucs now have four tight ends potentially competing for three spots — starter Austin Seferian-Jenkins, veterans Luke Stocker and Brandon Myers and second-year pro Cameron Brate.
WINSTON SLOWED: The sprained right ankle that Bucs QB Jameis Winston suffered Aug. 24 against Cincinnati is affecting his ability to take drops and plant his back foot, offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter confirmed.
But Winston should be close to 100 percent for the regular-season opener, Sept. 13 against Tennessee, after having about two weeks to recover. Winston is not expected to play in Thursday's preseason finale at Miami.
"It's affecting him a little bit but he'll be ready to go," Koetter said. "He'll be full speed by Tennessee. It's not anything he can't play on. With Jameis even in practice, you can't keep him out. … We'll get him healthy. But he's got a sprained ankle. You have to move around and cut and plant, it can be painful but he's getting through all that."
Winston struggled in Saturday's 31-7 loss to Cleveland, completing 6-of-15 passes for 90 yards and an interception. He was under duress most of the game and sacked four times. Winston's seven sacks are the most by any quarterback in the NFL after three preseason games.
"Everything is an excuse. The bottom line is we stunk," Koetter said of Saturday's loss. "We were not good enough in any phase. There were three or four individuals who played okay. But it's a team game and we were terrible on offense. Just not good enough in any aspect."
THIS AND THAT: Rookie LT Donovan Smith (ankle) did not practice, but said the injury wasn't serious. He wasn't sure he'd be available Thursday if the starting linemen play. … WR Robert Herron, the team's sixth-round pick last year, was reportedly released Monday, though neither the team nor his agent would confirm any move. Herron had no catches in the final 10 games last year and only two in preseason.
Contact Greg Auman at [email protected] and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman and @NFLstroud.