TAMPA — The Bucs have players with pedigree in their secondary: CB Alterraun Verner and S Dashon Goldson are Pro Bowl players. S Mark Barron is a first-round pick. CB Johnthan Banks is a second-rounder.
But after four games, they don't have the numbers to match their resumes. LB Danny Lansanah has the Bucs' only interception of the season, and the team has five passes defensed, including one by LB Lavonte David.
"Right now, interceptions in general, we're disappointed," coach Lovie Smith said. "What do we have? One? The (strong side linebacker) had that who doesn't play most of the time. Those numbers have to change.
"Passes defensed, that can say a lot of things. I go on opportunities they've had to make plays. In this (Saints) game (Sunday), you'd think we'd have more opportunities to make interceptions. There are a couple I can think of. Dashon would tell you he should've had one (against Carolina). But eventually if you keep going, you go through spells where you don't. Our safeties all have good hands, and it's just a matter of time."
The Saints, under defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, haven't fared much better. They have only one takeaway and no interceptions.
INJURY UPDATE: LB Mason Foster practiced for the second straight day as he recovers from the dislocated shoulder that sidelined him from Sunday's win. Four players remained out — Goldson (ankle), QB Josh McCown (thumb), WR Mike Evans (groin) and DE Larry English (hamstring) — and are unlikely to play Sunday.
Rookie TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins and DE Michael Johnson, given Wednesday off to rest as they recover from ankle injuries, returned to practice on Thursday with limited participation.
Both are expected to play Sunday.
BANKS EXCUSED: Banks was excused from the afternoon practice to attend to a family matter.
HISTORY: Smith, when he was head coach of the Bears, faced Saints QB Drew Brees four times, winning three, including 39-14 in the NFC Championship Game during the 2006 season. Smith has yet to win in New Orleans — he lost 30-13 with the Bears there in 2011 and got a road win against the Saints in 2005, but that came in Baton Rouge in a game relocated because of Hurricane Katrina. In four games against Smith-coached teams, Brees has thrown for 10 touchdowns and five interceptions. … The Saints have been held to 14 points or fewer at home just twice in the past five years — once in a loss to the Bucs in 2010, and that same year, against a Vikings team that had current Bucs defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier in the same role.