TAMPA — Austin Seferian-Jenkins was flagged for a couple of holding penalties that moved the Bucs backward in their preseason loss at Jacksonville on Friday, but that hasn't stopped the rookie tight end from moving up the ranks on offense.
Seferian-Jenkins took a significant number of repetitions in practice Monday with the starting unit, a sign that the second-round pick from Washington likely will play a major role in the offense early this season.
"You have to let it play out," coach Lovie Smith said. "But for the ones that have been out here for training camp, just about every day he's done something that you could like. You don't have to look real hard to like something the guy has done. So he's warranted more time moving up through the ranks. He's got a great future ahead of him. It's as simple as that."
Despite the two holding penalties on the opening drive of the second half, Seferian-Jenkins also had a 23-yard pass reception to convert a third down.
"You do the things in practice and you kind of get away with it and then you do it in a game and there's a flag," he said. "Or you didn't open quick enough. Little things. Or the linebacker jumps the route and tips the ball just a little bit because you didn't get outside on your right landmark.
"It was just the small stuff, and that was the biggest thing. It was just really the technique, and everybody has really good technique."
The team has plenty of depth at tight end, with Tim Wright, Brandon Myers and Luke Stocker. Seferian-Jenkins obviously has the least amount of experience, but Smith said his mistakes are correctable.
"In practice, you don't know how far you can go as far as holding and things like that," Smith said.
"So you have to get in games and you have to get calls. That's when you learn, once you've got your hand slapped a little bit. I didn't see anything that wasn't correctable."
Injury updates: DL Da'Quan Bowers and DE Steven Means were both held out of practice with upper leg/groin injuries.
Bowers, a 2011 second-round pick, had three tackles (one for a loss) in the preseason opener. But he also missed practice time last week and is seeing more snaps at defensive tackle instead of end.
"Hopefully we'll be able to get them out there before long," Smith said.
CB Alterraun Verner (hamstring) practiced again for the second day in a row after missing Friday's game. But the injury list in the secondary still grew, with cornerbacks Rashaan Melvin and Keith Lewis out with ankle injuries. Smith expects Melvin to play Saturday but doesn't have a timetable for how long Lewis might be out. CB Mike Jenkins remains sidelined with a hamstring injury.
Incognito option? As questions continue to cloud the offensive line and especially the guards, the Bucs remain open to possible solutions. When asked about whether one of those answers could be signing former Pro Bowl G Richie Incognito, Smith didn't completely rule it out. He didn't seem to embrace it, either.
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"All players that are available, we look to see if they would fit into our program — all players," Smith said. "I'll just kind of leave it at that. If we're really interested in someone, we'll bring them in."
There's no indication the Bucs have brought in Incognito, even for a workout. Smith noted later that he didn't bring up Incognito during the news conference and that any roster addition would have to work in the locker room's chemistry.
Incognito remains unemployed after last season's harassment scandal with the Dolphins and then-teammate Jonathan Martin.
"If a player doesn't fit in the locker room, we have to go a different direction," said Smith, who was speaking generally and not about a specific player. "It's as simple as that."