Aug. 27: vs. Dolphins, 7:30 *
Sept. 1: at Redskins, 7:30
All games on Ch. 10; * subject to NFL blackout rules
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TAMPA — When Bucs MLB Mason Foster decked Patriots WR Chad Ochocinco with a forearm and shoulder to the head and neck, drawing a personal foul, Tampa Bay coach Raheem Morris got over it.
So, too, did Ochocinco.
A day after the violent hit in the Bucs' 31-14 preseason loss — a hit that might result in Foster being fined under the NFL's more stringent player-safety guidelines — Ochocinco gave Foster a virtual pat on the back for the play via Twitter.
Friday, Ochocinco posted on his Twitter account: "@Mason_Foster great hit last night. if u're fined I'll reimburse u boss. That's the way the game should b played. Stay healthy n have a good yr" (sic).
In the first-quarter play, Foster was flagged for unnecessary roughness, a 15-yard penalty. Morris said he aims to strike a balance between teaching his players to be aware and play within the rules while playing the physical, aggressive game he demands.
"That's something you just have to coach and get a little better at," Morris said. "Obviously they're going to err on the side of caution with the National Football League, but you don't want to deter Mason, either. We're not going to let that be a deterrent for us in how physical we want to play."
One reason Foster expressed mild frustration with the call was because he hit Ochocinco the only way he could have. Because the receiver was leaning forward and sort of crouching, his upper body was the only area exposed to Foster.
What could Foster have done differently?
"There's going to be some questionable (hits) like that all year," Morris said. "It's been a little bit more about ball searching for me, trying to get the ball out of there (instead).
"(Foster) didn't have his head in there, but he put his elbow to the guy's head. You could flip a coin and not call it or call it."
Defensive Tackle depth: DT Roy Miller's knee injury is a partially torn medial collateral ligament, an injury that won't require surgery but will jeopardize his availability for the rest of the preseason.
Morris said he hoped Miller might be able to play Aug. 27 against the Dolphins. Miller was injured on the first series of last week's preseason opener at Kansas City.
Miller's loss is compounded by that of DT E.J. Wilson, who left the Patriots game with an ankle injury and doesn't seem likely to return soon.
Morris said of Wilson's injury, "it didn't sound good."
Also missing was DT Brian Price, recovering from surgery to repair a pelvic fracture.
After Wilson left the game, Frank Okam, who started, was forced to play the majority of the snaps, despite being mostly a rotational player. Still, Morris said of the depth at tackle, "I feel pretty comfortable what we've got going right now."
Bright spots: Morris said several defensive reserves had some of the better performances against the Patriots. He singled out CB Elbert Mack, who had a 69-yard interception return for a touchdown, had a tackle for loss and deflected two passes.
Safeties Corey Lynch and Larry Asante also drew praise from Morris.
Among starters, DT Gerald McCoy was the exception who stood out for playing well.
"McCoy was really the bright spot up front," Morris said. "He got off the ball, caused disruption."