TAMPA — Third-year pro Will Gholston, moved from primarily playing defensive end to defensive tackle, has handled the transition well, leading the Bucs with three tackles for loss in the preseason.
"I think he's handled it very well, and wherever we've put him, he's handled it well," coach Lovie Smith said after Saturday's 31-7 loss to the Browns, in which Gholston had four tackles.
"He's gotten our attention quite a bit in practice, and in every game he's done something to make us take notice. … Will Gholston is a player I can stand here and definitely say has gotten better, and that's from the moment we got here."
Gholston came into the preseason battling for a roster spot with four fairly entrenched defensive tackles: starters Gerald McCoy and Clinton McDonald and backups Henry Melton and Tony McDaniel. His flexibility to help at defensive end should help his chances to stick on the final 53-man roster.
Gholston is second on the team with 11 total tackles. Another converted end now playing at tackle, Da'Quan Bowers, has just one tackle in three games.
"Everything we've asked (Gholston) to do, whether it be losing weight or play this position, get this one down, he's always done it," Smith said.
Gholston can play on special teams — he blocked a field goal against Baltimore last season — and can still work outside as a defensive end in running situations. Gholston's three tackles for loss in the preseason stand out because the rest of the defensive line has totaled just four.
10 gone: The Bucs made their first preseason cuts Sunday, with 2015 seventh-round draft pick Joey Iosefa and undrafted rookie Dominique Brown among the most notable names.
Iosefa, a fullback from Hawaii, played one offensive snap Saturday.
Brown, from Louisville, struggled as a short-yardage option, failing to score on four straight carries from inside the 2-yard line in Monday's win against the Bengals.
The other eight waived: DT George Uko, DT Quayshawne Buckley, DE Jamal Young, CB Al-Hajj Shabazz, S Kimario McFadden, P Karl Schmitz, LS Brandon Hartson and OG Antoine Everett.
With the cuts, Jorvorskie Lane is the only fullback on the roster, and Andrew DePaola is the only remaining long snapper.
The Bucs must cut five more players by Tuesday afternoon to get to the next roster limit, 75, with final cuts to 53 players due by Saturday.
Third and short: The Bucs' offense converted just one of its first nine third-down opportunities Saturday, a futility made more frustrating by the Bucs going 0-for-3 on third downs when needing 2 yards or fewer.
RB Doug Martin lost a yard on third and 1, and twice — on third and 2 and third and 1 — the Bucs passed, with QB Jameis Winston throwing incomplete on both attempts.
Problems on the first two downs contributed to the third-down woes. The Bucs' first three third-down plays saw the Bucs needing 9, 22 and 11 yards to move the chains.
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Of Cleveland's seven third-down conversions, all came when the Browns needed 7 yards or fewer for a first down.
Crowd improving: Saturday's crowd at Raymond James Stadium was announced as 51,521, but the actual attendance was 35,541, the Tampa Sports Authority said. That's up 2,417 from the actual count for Monday's Bucs-Bengals game, which drew 33,124. Announced attendance is based on tickets distributed. Actual attendance is a turnstile count.
This and that: Smith said WR Robert Herron didn't play Saturday because he tweaked a hamstring in pregame drills. The 2014 sixth-round draft pick is in jeopardy of not making the final cuts. He has two catches in three preseason games. … Winston's QB rating in the preseason, 52.7, ranks 94th among all quarterbacks. Before you give that too much weight, it's still better than that of the Giants' Eli Manning, the 49ers' Colin Kaepernick and the Patriots' Tom Brady.
Contact Greg Auman at firstname.lastname@example.org and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.