With only five linebackers on the roster after the Buccaneers released over 20 players to get down to 53 by 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, Tampa Bay was poised to bring in another veteran to fill the position as the team likes to carry six into the regular season. After releasing the likes of Tyrone McKenzie, Simoni Lawrence and Derrell Smith, Tampa Bay signed former St. Louis and Houston linebacker Zac Diles, who played for Morris during his one year as Kansas State’s defensive coordinator, after he was released by the Rams on Saturday. The announcement came from his agent via Twitter.
The 26-year old Diles was the Wildcats’ second-leading tackler in 2006, recording 109 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, one interception, one pass breakup and one fumble recovery that was returned 43 yards for a touchdown while playing middle linebacker.
Diles is not the most athletic linebacker in pro football, evidenced by the fact he was drafted by the Texans in the seventh round, but he does have the intelligence factor that Morris wants in his Mike linebacker. And at 6-foot-2, 245 pounds, Diles has the size and strength to play the position. Don’t discount the familiarity that Morris has with Diles running his defense at K-State in 2006, either.
In the Wildcats’ 31-27 come-from-behind victory against Oklahoma State in Josh Freeman’s first start during his freshman year, Diles had a team-high 11 tackles. He posted a career high 12 tackles in a head-to-head duel with McKenzie, who was at Iowa State for one year, and also recorded two tackles for loss and two sacks.
Against Texas, Diles matched his career high with 12 tackles in K-State’s 45-42 upset in 2006, which derailed the Longhorns’ national title hopes. With the Texans, Diles has played all three linebacker spots, although he had the most success playing Will linebacker. Diles started 22 out of the last 31 games he played for Houston and recorded 223 tackles, three forced fumbles, one sack, one safety and one interception.
Not eye-popping numbers, but a lack of great stats hasn’t stopped the Bucs from acquiring defensive players like Tim Crowder, Alex Magee and Michael Bennett. Diles, who is good friends with Bucs backup Adam Hayward, brings position flexibility to the linebacking corps, in addition to improved size.
The acquisition of Diles has not been officially announced yet by the team, nor has the name of the player that must be cut by Tampa Bay to make room for Diles on the roster.