Last week, Bucs coach Lovie Smith warned that the NFL's longer extra-point attempts were "not a gimme now," and while NFL kickers have only missed five in 105 preseason attempts, one of those came from Bucs kicker Pat Murray.
"We missed an extra point the other day, and that's not a good thing," Smith said Wednesday. "When you move back, it's not automatic. We see that firsthand. It's always tempting to go for two, I'll just say that. For us, that's a good option for us to have."
The NFL has moved back extra points from the 20-yard line to the 33, adding drama to what had been a foregone conclusion. Murray, who went 20-for-24 on field goals last year and was perfect on the shorter PATs, was good on a 53-yard field goal Monday but also missed from 50.
"I think it's more important for us, if we get an opportunity, to let our guys kick field goals, that operation," Smith said.
Last week, Murray had expressed his confidence at being able to hit the longer PATs reliably, saying "It's a 33-yard kick. If you're a professional kicker, you've got to make that kick."
Across the league, only 20 of 32 NFL teams have gone for two in the preseason -- the Bucs missed on one try in their preseason opener. The league is a combined 14-for-31 on two-point attempts, which works out to 0.903 points per attempt; on kicks, the league averages 0.952 points per attempt.
KICKING THE TIRES: The Bucs signed Jake Schum on Wednesday as a third punter on roster, giving them another challenger to veteran Michael Koenen, who ranked 32nd in the NFL in punt average last year and 29th in net punt average. Schum was waived by the Jets last week after averaging 51.3 yards in four punts in one preseason game; he had two stints with Tampa Bay last year but none in games.
"We brought Jacob in last year too, so we like him," Smith said. "He was available, we had a sot, so why not take a look at him? We'll continue to do that. That's what we've done since (GM) Jason (Licht) and I got here. We want competition at all spots, so you'll continue to see us doing that."
Koenen is also the Bucs' holder on kicks, and the Bucs had backup QB Mike Glennon serve as holder on the first two kicks Monday.
Undrafted rookie safety Derrick Wells, who did not play in Monday's game, was waived to make room for Schum.
INJURY UPDATE: Four players who were sidelined last week -- DE Jacquies Smith (shoulder), DE T.J. Fatinikun (leg), OT Kevin Pamphile (triceps) and S Chris Conte (hamstring) -- dressed and participated in practice, though in a limited capacity, leaving them uncertain for Saturday's game.
"(They) were able to get a few reps back," Lovie Smith said. "They're not ready to go full-speed or anything like that right now, but we're getting them back into the mix."
DE Larry English didn't practice, but Smith said it was just soreness and he should be back Thursday; C Evan Smith, who didn't play Monday due to a groin injury from Sunday's walkthrough, didn't practice but said the plan is for him to play Saturday against the Browns.
THIS AND THAT: LB Bruce Carter, moved to strongside when rookie Kwon Alexander took over at middle linebacker last week, was working as the starter at strongside during position drills Wednesday. "We like Bruce, of course," Smith said. "Danny Lansanah really played well in the game Monday night." ... The Bucs used DT Henry Melton as a starting DE Monday due to injuries, and while he's versatile, he's still a tackle by position. "Henry can play inside. He can play outside," Smith said. "Sometimes injuries dictate how much he plays inside/outside. That was the case this past week. Butu once we get all the guys back, he'll probably be more inside than outside." ... Of his team's 14 penalties for 153 yards in Monday's win, Smith said: "We just weren't disciplined enough. ... We're embarrassed by that. Believe me, we're going to correct it."