TAMPA — Bucs rookie WR Mike Williams put a quick move on Jaguars CB Derek Cox. A split second later, Cox was on the turf and Williams was streaming downfield, hauling in a deep ball from Josh Johnson.
Then it was off to the races. Williams darted inside, shaking a couple of would-be tacklers. He eventually would be corralled by S Anthony Smith but not before the damage was done.
After a 53-yard gain Saturday, Williams had shown yet another dimension of his game. He is not only adept at running crafty routes, making tough catches in traffic and blocking downfield when called upon. He is quick in the open field.
It's a quality the Bucs offense lacked last season.
With WR Antonio Bryant hurt for much of the season, Tampa Bay rarely showed explosiveness. But Williams is providing it in large doses this preseason.
He did it later with 18- and 12-yard receptions in a span of four plays in the third quarter. Those catches helped position the Bucs for a 40-yard field goal.
Williams long ago staked his claim to the starting split end position. At this rate, he has a chance to be a lot more.
NOTHING SPECIAL: RB Clifton Smith finally made his preseason debut, but his first touch was hardly memorable.
He fielded a kickoff before the Bucs' first possession and fumbled at the end of his 17-yard return. The Bucs retained possession after the ball bounced out of bounds.
Smith had missed the previous two games after a bout of what is believed to be gout, a condition that has been affecting him for nearly two months.
Overall, it was not a banner night for special teams. Yes, K Connor Barth was steady again, making 51- and 40-yard field goals. But there were other areas for concern.
For one, the Jaguars ripped off a long kick return to start the game, the second in as many weeks allowed by the Bucs. This time, it was Scotty McGee with a 47-yarder.
Rookie P Brent Bowden had a rough night, exemplified by his 20-yarder in the third quarter — an attempt that was neither blocked nor closely pressured. Facing fourth and 20 at their 10, the Bucs sent Bowden on to get them out of the jam. But he shanked the kick and gave the Jaguars possession at the Bucs 30.
Two plays later, Luke McCown threw a touchdown to WR John Matthews.
Earlier in the game, the Bucs had another special teams gaffe when Sabby Piscitelli committed a personal foul while covering a punt. That gave Jacksonville prime field position.
DELAY OF GAME: The teams endured a 30-minute lightning delay when officials stopped play at the end of the first quarter. The teams had to return to their locker rooms and were given a 10-minute warmup upon returning.
HELD OUT: Starting RG Davin Joseph missed the game with what GM Mark Dominik described as a minor hip injury. Jeremy Zuttah started in his place, essentially performing the role of the line's sixth man, something his versatility allows him to do.
Zuttah lost his starting role at left guard to Keydrick Vincent last week and now is available to backup either guard spot and, in a pinch, tackle and center.
Joseph's injury is not considered a concern. Beyond Joseph, QB Josh Freeman (thumb), WR Maurice Stovall (ankle) and LB Jon Alston (undisclosed) missed the game.
Piscitelli suffered a mild concussion in the fourth quarter but left under his own power after being down for a few minutes.
BACK AT IT: TE Kellen Winslow played for the first time this preseason, though just briefly. Winslow committed a false start that put the Bucs in a hole on their first possession then caught a 5-yard pass before leaving a few plays later.
SPARSE CROWD — AGAIN: The Bucs had another sparse crowd in their final home preseason game. The delay resulted in an even smaller crowd as many fans left while waiting. The actual attendance was unavailable.