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Special teams could help Michael Smith make Tampa Bay Buccaneers' roster

TAMPA — Bucs rookie RB/KR Michael Smith says he has seen the replay of his 74-yard punt return Friday night in Miami and was excited to make a splash in his NFL debut.

"I thought I was gone," he said.

The seventh-round pick took the ball 2 yards in the end zone, raced up the middle and broke three tackles before getting caught from behind near the Dolphins' 30-yard line. He displayed the speed and strength that helped him set rushing records at Utah State.

Though Smith, 5 feet 9, 205 pounds, is in the mix as a reserve running back, special teams — specifically returns — can help him make the roster.

"I can do running back, do special teams — I play every special team except field goal," Smith said. "I'm just working hard to show my speed, my strength, my effort, that I want to be here."

HIGH PRAISE: WR Vincent Jackson was among a constellation of offensive stars with the Chargers in recent years. He believes the lesser-known Bucs are just as talented.

Jackson said QB Josh Freeman is among the top five at his position in the NFL.

"We were a little more flashy as far as the names go (in San Diego), but I think we're just as talented here all the way across the board." Jackson said. "We have tight ends, running backs and obviously, Josh Freeman, and he's a quarterback I think should be mentioned among the top five in the league."

ON THE LINE: After a full-team drill featuring a fumble by Doug Martin and assorted penalties, coach Greg Schiano implored his players to be sharper with a little, um, encouragement.

"Two fumbles and a holding penalty — start the period over," Schiano yelled. "There's one way here; we're not going to compromise."

When the miscues continued, Schiano stopped practice, took the team to midfield and delivered another tongue-lashing.

It was just the second time during training camp that Schiano has used such measures.

"Sometimes that happens," Schiano said. "If you're a little sloppy, you stop it and get it back on the right path."

TICKET TIME: The Bucs announced they'll have a half-season ticket; fans can buy one of two five-game plans. Each option includes one preseason game. The prices are between the cost of a single-game ticket and a full-season pass.

MEDICAL MATTERS: TE Luke Stocker left practice early. Schiano didn't know the nature of the injury, only saying he didn't feel well. … Schiano said OT Donald Penn (calf) is progressing, but won't play until he's ready. Schiano said if there were a regular-season game this week, Penn might play. … S Mark Barron, who missed Friday's game due to a toe injury, practiced, as did TE Dallas Clark and CB Aqib Talib.

Times staff writers Rick Stroud and Stephen F. Holder contributed to this report. Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@tampabay.com.

Special teams could help Michael Smith make Tampa Bay Buccaneers' roster 08/13/12 [Last modified: Monday, August 13, 2012 6:39pm]
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