TAMPA — Texans DE Jadaveon Clowney has watched tape of Bucs rookie QB Jameis Winston being sacked seven times in the first two games. He knows the Bucs have two rookies on the offensive line.
This makes Clowney very happy.
"We're smiling," Clowney said. "We're hoping we can get there and hit him too. That's the goal. Go in there and make plays. Make him turn the ball over and get the ball back to our offense."
Clowney, the No. 1 overall pick in 2014 from South Carolina, played in only six games before being placed on injured reserve in December. He said while he's impressed with Winston, this year's No. 1 still has trouble reading defenses.
"First year, you can tell he can't really read the defense that good," Clowney said. "But you know he's still a good player. He got picked first for a reason. They see something in him that's pretty good. We just have to get after him, hold them guys, and stop the run."
Bucs offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said the team has to do a better job of protecting Winston.
"Jameis is still taking too many hits," Koetter said. "Sometimes, that's a pass protection thing, sometimes that's a quarterback-receiver thing. We can't get Jameis hit as much as we are right now. That's too many hits. Those will add up over the course of 16 games."
TWO IN A ROW? The last time the Bucs had a winning record during the season was Dec. 1, 2012, when they were 6-5 before losing the next day at Denver 31-23. So while the Bucs are pleased with a road win in the division last week, the focus at Houston on Sunday is to win their second game in a row and putting together a streak, something they haven't done since 2013.
"We've got to find a way to get another one," CB Alterraun Verner said.
"That's something we definitely didn't do last year. We couldn't get two in a row. We couldn't repeat off a good performance at Pittsburgh and the Redskins last year. This week is probably even bigger than last week, in my opinion. We've got to learn how to win, and when we do, we've got to learn how to stack them up."
VERNER POSITION SHIFT? Verner, a starter in all 14 games he played in last season, was working at nickel defensive back in Thursday's practice, this after backup CB Tim Jennings got more playing time than Verner in Sunday's win at New Orleans.
Verner started at corner Sunday, but played just 36 of 78 snaps on defense, with Jennings playing 53 and matching up with Saints WR Brandin Cooks.
INJURIES: TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (shoulder), C Evan Smith (ankle) and S Major Wright (abdomen) did not practice Thursday. DT Gerald McCoy (shoulder), CB Mike Jenkins (hamstring), DE T.J. Fatinikun (shoulder) and S D.J. Swearinger (shoulder) were limited.
ETC: Federal Judge James Moody Jr. ruled that the civil suit filed by former PK Lawrence Tynes does not arise from the NFL's collective bargaining agreement and the Bucs did not meet the qualifications to move the case to federal court. Tynes filed a lawsuit in April against the Bucs, alleging that unsanitary conditions at the team facility led to him contracting MRSA, ultimately ending his career prematurely.