Tampa Bay reached the 53-man roster limit on Saturday. Like Friday,
there were a few surprises, including RB Jeff Demps and safety Major
Wright. While the Bucs met the deadline, chances are the team that comes
out of the tunnel next Sunday against the Panthers will be different
than the one on Saturday.
The Buccaneers waited all camp for a kick returner to step up and claim the position. For a good part of the preseason it appeared rookie Solomon Patton would end up as the Bucs' primary kick returner, but on Saturday Tampa Bay released the former Gator standout. The Bucs also released another former Gator, Jeff Demps, who was also vying for the return job.
The question now becomes who will line up as Tampa Bay’s kick returner when the regular season opens next Sunday at home against the Carolina Panthers? The only two other players on the current roster who returned kicks this preseason were running backs Bobby Rainey and Mike James.
Tampa Bay ended up cutting a total of eight players on Saturday to get them to the mandatory 53-man limit. TE Cameron Brate, RB Jeff Demps, QB Mike Kafka, LB Brandon Magee, DT Matthew Masifilo and WR Solomon Patton were waived and Tampa Bay released S Major Wright and defensive end Ronald Talley. Wright and Talley become unrestricted free agents and can sign with any team, while the waived players must clear waivers before they can be added to a team’s practice squad or sign with another team of their choice.
On Friday the Buccaneers got an early jump on the roster reduction as DB Marc Anthony, LB Nate Askew T Edawn Coughman, CB Kip Edwards, DE T.J. Fatinikun, CB Anthony Gaitor, LB Ka’Lial Glaud, CB Keith Lewis, OL Andrew Miller, FB Lonnie Pryor, OL Jeremiah Warren and OL Jamon Meredith were all let go.
The Buccaneers, and all other NFL teams, can begin putting together a 10-man practice squad beginning on Sunday, but before that the front office and coaching staff will be scouring the waiver wire looking for players that were released by other teams. Tampa Bay could look to fill the kick returner position from that list. In addition the Bucs could also be looking closely at the offensive line, safety and linebacker positions if for nothing more than additional depth.
One interesting note from looking at the current 53 is the fact the Buccaneers only have three healthy safeties on the roster. Bradley McDougald is on the roster to make a total of four, but was injured in the preseason and could miss some regular season action. Head coach Lovie Smith noted on more than one occasion during training camp that he has never made it through a season without an injury at the safety position. Both starters Dashon Goldson and Mark Barron missed a portion of the offseason and some training camp practices after having offseason surgeries. Keith Tandy is currently the only healthy backup at the safety position.
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