Lovie Smith pleased with Bucs safety play post-Mark Barron

Published November 4 2014
Updated November 4 2014

TAMPA — Coach Lovie Smith pointed to the Bucs' depth at safety last week as a reason why the team traded former first-round pick Mark Barron to St. Louis.

One game later, Smith said he liked what he saw from Barron's replacements — especially Major Wright.

"Major Wright had a good game," Smith said Monday. "He was one of the guys that really played well for us."

Wright led the team with 13 tackles (one for a loss) Sunday in his first start of the season. Wright said he didn't plan to treat his opportunity to start any differently than usual but said he put together a solid game.

With Barron gone, Smith said the Bucs intended to split reps at safety. Former Pro Bowl pick Dashon Goldson only played 47 of 67 defensive snaps, giving more opportunities to Bradley McDougald.

Smith said McDougald, a second-year pro, played okay, finishing with three tackles and one pass defensed.

"He's a young guy that knows a lot," Wright said of McDougald. "He's going to be a pretty good player for us."

Barron had one special-teams tackle Sunday in his Rams debut.

Evans elevating: Smith said one bright spot in Sunday's loss was the continued emergence of rookie WR Mike Evans, who set career highs with 124 receiving yards and two touchdown catches.

"There was a point there where he was almost unstoppable," Smith said of the No. 7 overall pick. "We wish we could have got him the ball even more."

Smith said Evans has started to blossom the past three weeks. Evans has touchdown catches in three of the past four contests with 257 yards in the last three games. Smith thinks Evans is capable of even more.

"We saw some of what he might be," Smith said. "I think he's just going to be a force when it's all said and done."

Not-so-special teams: Smith said simple breakdowns led to the Browns blocking a kick and a punt Sunday.

On the blocked field goal, Billy Winn jumped over LS Andrew DePaola and G Logan Mankins to rob the Bucs of three points.

"How often do you see a guy just jump over the top?" Smith said. "That shouldn't happen."

The blocked punt, Smith said, came on a standard rush that the Bucs "shouldn't get beat on" but did.

It was the second time an opponent blocked a punt and a field goal against the Bucs; the Rams did so in Week 2.

Transactions: The Bucs added three players to their practice squad, including former Armwood High and Gators offensive lineman Matt Patchan, who was with the team through preseason cuts in late August. Patchan, who had been limited by a hamstring injury, worked primarily at tackle in preseason but can play multiple positions.

The team also added former Indiana TE Ted Bolser (6 feet 5, 249 pounds), a seventh-round pick of the Redskins this spring, and LB Denicos Allen (5-11, 218), who led Michigan State in tackles last year.

Tampa Bay waived DT Mass Masifilo, who debuted Sunday after being promoted from the practice squad. Two former Florida State players, FB Lonnie Pryor and LB Mister Alexander, were cut from the practice squad.

This and that: Smith's reaction when LB Lavonte David went down injured: "I remember going out on the field fairly quick to see if he was okay." David returned to the game. … DL Da'Quan Bowers and FB Jorvorskie Lane are eligible to return after serving two-week suspensions for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances.

Times staff writer Greg Auman contributed to this report. Contact Matt Baker at mbaker@tampabay.com. Follow @MBakerTBTimes.