ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Former first-round pick Larry English, a defensive end trying to grab one of the last roster spots after signing Aug. 14, made a strong case during Saturday's 27-24 win at Buffalo, getting two sacks off the bench.
"We've noticed him," Bucs coach Lovie Smith said after the game. "Last week in practice we thought he took steps each day. We have good competition with a few players for some of those last positions on our team."
English, released by the Chargers after recording 11 sacks over five seasons, dropped Bills QB EJ Manuel for a 5-yard loss on third down in the second quarter, then added a sack in the third.
"I'm just coming to work every day with the same mentality of getting better," said English, the 16th overall pick in 2009 out of Northern Illinois. "I'm getting my body primed and ready for the regular season to be able to make a difference (wherever) the team needs me. Whenever you can get in early in a game, get some key snaps against (starters), that's always a key."
MISSING: The Bucs played without starting strongside LB Jonathan Casillas, who didn't travel due to an unspecified violation. Danny Lansanah started and made five tackles, including one for a loss. Smith said Casillas will be back with the team today. S Mark Barron sat out the first series due to a separate violation but returned for the second and finished with two tackles. Bradley McDougald, who started in his place, left the game early with a knee injury. The team didn't elaborate on its severity. Several players didn't dress due to lingering injuries, including S Major Wright (back), CBs Mike Jenkins (hamstring) and Rashaan Melvin (ankle), DEs Da'Quan Bowers (groin) and Will Gholston (shoulder), and RB Mike James (shoulder).
APOLOGY: Rookie WR Mike Evans, who scored his first touchdown on a 26-yard grab, addressed a video released by TMZ.com on Friday showing him in a brawl outside a South Beach nightclub in March. No arrests were made. "I put it behind me," he said. "The situation was unfortunate. I could've handled it better, and I plan on handling it better in the future."
CLICKING AGAIN: WR Vincent Jackson laid low during the first two preseason games with only three total passes thrown his way. But he connected well with QB Josh McCown on Saturday, catching a game-high five passes — all in the first half — for 43 yards. Three catches converted third downs during the second quarter, when the Bucs scored 17 points.
"We got a chance to keep some drives going," Jackson said. "Finishing up this preseason for the first-teamers — I don't know how much we'll play in this last game — it's good to get that good rhythm and some confidence."
Newcomer: G Rishaw Johnson, acquired from the Chiefs on Thursday, didn't play on the offensive line but got in on the field goal unit.
"It's a blessing to come here and get a fresh start," said Johnson, traded for backup S Kelcie McCray.
"I'm going to try to just be me: be physical, try to help get the run game going, help in pass (protection), do what they need me to do."
THIS AND THAT: RB Doug Martin rushed for 38 yards and a touchdown and caught two passes for 27 yards, but his backups struggled. Jeff Demps rushed 11 times for 26 yards, Bobby Rainey 13 times for 14 yards. … CB Alterraun Verner made his first appearance of the preseason, testing his hamstring on the first few drives and feeling good about his progress. …The Bucs' 27 points were the second most over their past 25 preseason games. They scored 30 against the Patriots in 2012. … Former Bucs WR Mike Williams, dealt to Buffalo in the spring, had a 14-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter.