TAMPA — Perhaps Bruce Arians was running his own misdirection play Saturday when discussing his game-film assessment of the Bucs’ 13-12 win over the Cleveland Browns.
Maybe he was deflecting blame from a maligned starting offensive line after the unit gave up five sacks Friday while also using the opportunity to drill in a point of emphasis to quarterback Jameis Winston.
It seemed like Winston spent more time dodging tacklers than looking downfield on Friday night, but Arians said Saturday that Winston had a role in the sacks. Arians said the underneath receivers were there for first downs, but he couldn't find them.
"Two of the sacks, maybe three, were Jameis just staying downfield too long and not coming under to his underneath men," Arians said Saturday. "He would have had first downs twice by just taking the underneath stuff. He hung on to a touchdown pass a little too long, especially on the third-and-5 down in the red zone."
Arians pointed to a 10-play, 59-yard drive on the Bucs second offensive possession as a high point for the unit, but kicker Matt Gay missed a 37-yard field goal attempt off the right upright.
"You think about the sacks, but there was a nice 10-play drive in that first quarter that ended up with a missed field goal," Arians said. "I think we all feel different if we make that kick and it's 3-3 and other things happen. ... Other than that, a couple guys got beat and that's going to happen sometimes."
Avoiding the outside for Ronald Jones
Arians remains impressed with running back Ronald Jones this preseason despite the second-year back totaling just eight yards on four careers in Friday’s game.
Jones didn’t have many holes, but ran through the middle with conviction for a pair of six-year gains on his first drive of the game in the first quarter. But on his other two carries, Jones was wrapped up trying to go outside for a pair of two-yard losses.
"I would have liked to see him cutback instead of bouncing outside on the other runs, but he's (run well between the tackles) that since we've been here," Arians said. "He's been explosive hitting holes. He trusts his speed a little too much when he's heading sideways instead of just hitting backside."
Avoiding the flag on special teams
The Bucs again went with only one penalty on special teams against the Browns, and it was offset. Tampa Bay also pulled the feat off against Miami in the second preseason game.
“We’ve been harping and barking about penalty free special teams,” Arians said.
Against the Steelers, three of the four special teams penalties were on kickoff returns, setting the team's starting position back a combined 28 yards.
Evans comes off PUP list
Safety Justin Evans, long plagued by toe and heel injuries, will practice for the first time this preseason after being removed from the Physically Unable to Perform list on Saturday.
Evans, who missed six of the the last seven games last year and didn’t participate in OTAs or training camp. He began running on a side field with trainers last week and passed a physical to allow him to come off the PUP list.
Contact Eduardo A. Encina at email@example.com. Follow @EddieInTheYard.