TAMPA — When coach Raheem Morris singled out WR Mike Williams for losing individual battles against the Patriots last week, he didn't just do it in the media.
Williams said Morris personally challenged him to win his one-on-one matchups after he was bottled up by Patriots CB Devin McCourty.
Morris "called the receivers out as a group because he called us the leader of the bus," Williams said. "But he really called me out for real. He told me, '(With) man coverage, we're going to the X. That's where you have to go.' "
The 'X' is the split end, the term used for Williams' position in the Bucs' offense.
The press coverage used by the Patriots got the better of Tampa Bay's receivers. If teams continue to succeed with it, the Bucs will see it even more.
"On some plays, I don't know, I guess you could say I got gloved up," Williams said. "(On) some plays, it was just a lot of pressure. But he basically called me out and said I have to win quickly and do like I did last year."
Last year, Williams was difficult to stop, excelling against all types of defensive tactics, including press coverage. He finished with a team-high 964 yards and 11 touchdowns, also a team high.
ON THE MEND: NT Roy Miller, who partly tore his left MCL in the first preseason game, said he hopes to practice next week and play in the exhibition finale against the Redskins.
Miller said surgery hasn't been discussed, but acknowledges he'll have to play through pain this season.
"I'm just going to have to fight through it this year," Miller said. "Everybody I've talked to that has had an MCL (tear) says it lingers."
Miller knows it's important to get on the field before the season.
"I just need every single rep I can get, so we'll see how it comes," he said. "I feel pretty confident in the stuff that I've been picking up over the years."
BENN BACK: It appears the wait is over for WR Arrelious Benn, who expects to make his preseason debut Saturday against the Dolphins.
Benn has impressed coaches with his rapid recovery from offseason left knee surgery, but the Bucs have been cautious, holding him out of the first two games as well as contact drills in practice.
Benn, who came into his own late last season before being injured in the next-to-last game, said he hopes to knock off the rust.
"I don't anticipate to do anything out of the normal," Benn said. "Just follow my game plan and do what I need to do."
LOOKING BACK: Though the starting offensive line struggled against the Patriots, C Jeff Faine said that, after looking at film, "it wasn't as bad as I thought it was." Faine said while there were some "boneheaded mistakes," which are correctable, he was more disappointed in the penalties.
"Those make a big impact on the game," Faine said. "Anytime you put yourself in a hole, you're first and 20, what's a good call on first and 20? There really isn't one in the playbook."
NEXT STEP: DT Gerald McCoy shrugged off all the unwanted attention his postgame comments complimenting Patriots QB Tom Brady got on radio and the Internet.
"It doesn't matter," McCoy said, smiling. "I'm worried about Miami. It's cool."
Saturday: vs. Dolphins, 7:30 * Sept. 1: at Redskins, 7:30
All games on Ch. 10 * subject to NFL blackout rules