TAMPA — For the past month, new Bucs DE Kourtnei Brown has had cameras all around him as a member of the Texans, whose preseason was chronicled by HBO cameras for the popular behind-the-scenes NFL show, Hard Knocks.
Brown was featured prominently on the show, trying to make the roster after being cut by five other teams in the previous three years. His strong preseason — three sacks and an interception returned for a touchdown -— wasn't enough to make the Texans, but he believes the exposure of being on the show helped him get on the Bucs' radar as they claimed him off waivers.
"I think it helped my case," said Brown, 27, one of five players claimed Sunday by the Bucs. "You're playing in a game, making plays, not everybody gets to see it. When you're on (Hard Knocks) you get a lot more publicity than normal. … When it comes on TV, that magnifies it."
Brown said he'll watch the show's final episode, which debuts tonight and will have footage of him finding out that he was waived.
"I'm going to watch, just to see how they put it together, what they made it look like," he said.
ONE VS. TWO: They will be linked for history, the Bucs' Jameis Winston and the Titans' Marcus Mariota, as rookie quarterbacks drafted No. 1 and No. 2 overall, respectively, who make their pro debuts Sunday against each other in Week 1.
Bucs coach Lovie Smith understands the hype about the story line, but he doesn't want Winston buying into it.
"Yes, I can (understand). But I think as you talk to some of their veteran players, some of our veteran players, I don't know if they're getting into that as much as everybody else," Smith said Monday. "I see why everyone else is. But once you get down to it, they have a saying, 'It's so much bigger than that.' It's taken a life of its own and we realize that."
Monday, Mariota said he isn't focused on the matchup with Winston.
"I don't play defense," Mariota said. "So I don't play against Jameis."
Smith was asked if he planned to throw more defensive looks than normal at Mariota.
"I just know about the one (quarterback) we're playing coming up. Everything is geared toward that," Smith said. "As far as what we're going to throw? We're going to throw everything that we have. That's what we do each week. We're not going to save any ammunition or anything like that."
INJURY UPDATE: After a long weekend off following their preseason finale, the Bucs returned to practice with two key starters still out — WR Mike Evans (hamstring) and LT Donovan Smith (ankle).
Evans was held out of the final two preseason games to rest his hamstring and Smith didn't play in Thursday's preseason finale at Miami. Backup DE T.J. Fatinikun, who injured his shoulder Thursday, was also held out of drills Monday.
Lovie Smith declined to address the injuries Monday, noting that the league doesn't require him to disclose anything until Wednesday during a game week. In Donovan Smith's absence, the Bucs had second-year pro Kevin Pamphile at starting left tackle Monday. Evans had said two weeks ago he could have played that week despite the injury, and he has time to return to practice and play Sunday against Tennessee.
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TRANSACTIONS: The Bucs made official the signing of two-time Pro Bowl CB Tim Jennings, who played for Smith in Chicago in 2010-12. Tampa Bay also filled the last two spots on its practice squad, signing undrafted rookie WR Rannell Hall and second-year TE Cameron Brate, who were both waived Sunday. … The Bucs made a change to their practice squad after only one day, waiving OT Terren Jones and signing OT Reid Fragel, who had been waived from the 53-man roster on Sunday.