TAMPA — As the Bucs look for ways to develop offensive consistency going down the stretch, they believe WR Arrelious Benn can help achieve that.
All they have to do now is get him the ball a bit more regularly.
Coach Raheem Morris said Tuesday the Bucs are looking for ways to get Benn more involved, especially after he finished the last game without a catch for the first time in 19 appearances.
"He is certainly one of our big playmakers," Morris said of Benn, who has the season's longest play from scrimmage, a 65-yard touchdown against the Saints.
Benn took on a secondary role against the Bears two weeks ago because the Bucs, as a result of RB Earnest Graham's Achilles' injury, used different personnel groupings than intended. The grouping used for most of the game was the three-wide receiver set, in which Dezmon Briscoe is considered the No. 1 flanker. Because Briscoe had taken the practice reps with that group during preparation for the Chicago game, Benn was a spectator for much of the day.
But the Bucs, who lack speed at receiver, can ill afford to have a game-changing wideout on the sideline, Morris said. Since last season, Benn has catches of 53, 64 and 65 yards.
"He's one of our more explosive players," Morris said. "If you look at our explosive plays this year, he's probably a part of most of them and there's a reason: He's big, he's strong, he's physical and he makes plays down the field. …
"We've been trying. We've been throwing screens to him and (running) reverses. We've been doing a bunch of things. But we have to get him the ball down the field and let him make plays with his catching ability."
HIGH-PRICED PICKS: QB Josh Freeman tried to put his interceptions into context Tuesday, saying a few less picks might have meant more victories.
"You look back and we're fortunate to have some of the wins when we turned the ball over in the red zone," said Freeman, who has 10 interceptions. "But at the same time … you look back and you probably have at least another win, maybe two, if you don't turn the ball over."
Freeman spent the bye week honing in on his turnovers, and he thinks the solution lies in trying to play within himself and not forcing unwise throws.
"It's (about) putting a governor on it, maybe slowing down a little bit," Freeman said. "At the same time, you've got to maintain your aggressive mentality, but you can do that within the confines of your game, the confines of the offense. One of our main philosophies is (being) turnover-free. Protect the football."
THE INJURY FRONT: The Bucs on Tuesday practiced for the first time in five days and made significant progress with their injured players. DT Gerald McCoy (ankle), MLB Mason Foster (ankle), Jeff Faine (biceps) and FS Tanard Jackson (hamstring) all returned to practice on at least a limited basis.
S Cody Grimm made an appearance in the locker room Tuesday after having surgery for a season-ending knee injury. He clarified that doctors did not find a torn ACL but, rather, a badly torn MCL and meniscus. That's considered preferable to an ACL tear, which can involve as much as a year of rehab.
ROSTER MOVE: The Bucs signed former S David Sims to their active roster. The undrafted free agent from Iowa State was on the Giants' roster in the preseason.