TAMPA — The revolving door of punt returners the Bucs have used this season isn't really conducive to a good return game. It's part of the reason the team ranks last in the NFL in punt-return average with 4.3 yards per attempt.
Will things improve this week with newly signed Roscoe Parrish? That remains to be seen, but coach Greg Schiano said he's looking for a return man with fearlessness and reliability.
Fielding punts "is the hardest skill there is in football," Schiano said Wednesday. "There is no doubt about it. You have everybody coming at you, and you have the hardest ball to catch in the game.
"There are several guys who can return kickoffs. There's not the (immediate) presence of defenders when you're catching a kick. Its' an easier ball. Punt returning is tough. I don't envy those guys. It's a special skill set. And when you have one that's really good, don't take it for granted."
Parrish, a college star for his hometown team in Miami, will have an immediate opportunity. He'll be the designated punt returner Sunday against the Redskins, Schiano confirmed.
For Parrish, cut by the Chargers and Raiders, respectively, in the preseason, his arrival in Tampa Bay is a chance to recapture the magic he once showed with the Bills, when he was one of the league's best return men.
"I kind of felt what it's like to sit down and watch a game on Sunday," said Parrish, 30. "It is not a good feeling. Getting this opportunity is a blessing, and I'm trying to take advantage."
WR Jordan Shipley handled punts for one game, Sunday at Dallas, but he mishandled one of his attempts and was cut days later. Parrish mishandled a couple of punts in the preseason, but Schiano said the veteran's years of experience puts the coach's mind at rest.
"I've just got to put the offense in good field position and protect the ball," Parrish, 30, said. "That's the key thing."
BIG SHOES: Veteran free agent DE Jeff Charleston was signed to add depth, a reaction to starter Adrian Clayborn's season-ending knee injury.
But the job will fall mostly to Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, who is listed this week as the starting right end. His steady improvement the past few months caught the attention of coaches.
"I've been very impressed with his development since we've arrived," Schiano said. "I have a great deal of confidence in Daniel. I think he's going to play really well. … I feel good about him."
For Te'o-Nesheim, his ticket to more playing time lies in one part of his game.
"My effort is my thing," he said. "I'm not really super flashy or super strong, I just try to play hard."
FINALLY: News of movement in negotiations between the NFL and its game officials was celebrated in the Bucs locker room.
"This is good news, for sure," LG Carl Nicks said. "Anytime you have guys who have been around as long as the original refs have been, it's great. I take my hat off to the guys who did do a good job while they were out there, but they got thrown in some hot water.
"It's not like when the real refs come back it's going to be perfect. There will still be some questionable calls. But it'll be better."
INJURY REPORT: Nicks (toe) and LB Dekoda Watson (chest) were limited in practice. CB Anthony Gaitor (hamstring) did not practice and seems no closer to a return. He has not played this season.
Staff writer Joe Smith contributed to this report. Stephen F. Holder can be reached at [email protected]m. Follow him on Twitter at @HolderStephen.