Just two days after trimming their active roster down to the NFL-mandated amount of 53 players, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers assembled their eight-man practice squad Tuesday.
Running back Earnest Graham, center Scott Jackson, defensive end Corey Smith and cornerback Ronyell Whitaker, all of whom were released by the Bucs, were re-signed to the practice squad.
Defensive end Isaac Hilton, guard/long snapper James Broyles, RB Joe Smith and wide receiver Allen Suber made up the other half of Tampa Bay’s taxi squad.
Graham (5-9, 215) originally joined the Bucs in 2003 as an undrafted free agent out of Florida. He spent the majority of last season on Tampa Bay’s practice squad, but turned in a solid 2004 preseason, leading the team in rushing with 124 yards on 37 carries (3.3 avg.) and a scoring a team-high three touchdowns.
Jackson (6-4, 300) signed with the Bucs on April 30 as an undrafted free agent out of Brigham Young. Although he’s listed as a center, Jackson spent most of his training camp and preseason playing time at tackle.
C. Smith (6-2, 250) has played in seven career games with Tampa Bay, including one last season. Smith also spent two weeks on the Bucs’ practice squad. In preseason, Smith notched one sacks, forced two fumbles and recorded three tackles.
Whitaker (5-9, 196) signed with Tampa Bay in 2003 as an undrafted free agent out of Virginia Tech. He played in four games (one start) last season after spending the first half of the season on the team’s practice squad. Whitaker recorded seven tackles, one sack, one interception and two passes defensed in preseason.
Broyles (6-4, 319) originally entered the NFL in 2002 as an undrafted free agent with the St. Louis Rams. He spent time on St. Louis’ practice squad and active roster during his rookie campaign. After spending the spring in NFL Europe with the Scottish Claymores, Broyles signed with Green Bay, but he was released after two exhibition games. He played collegiately at Indiana and Southwest Missouri State, starting at left guard for three seasons while long snapping for both schools.
Hilton (6-3, 251) entered the NFL in April as a seventh-round draft pick of the New York Giants. He is a speed rusher and was deemed a “difference-maker” at the I-AA level. He has 4.5 speed and was awarded both All American and all-conference honors as a senior at Hampton in 2003. Hilton started 32 of 39 games at Hampton, recording 205 tackles (119 solo) with 24 sacks for minus 204 yards, a school-record 69 stops for losses of 350 yards, 27 quarterback pressures, 8 pass deflections, 4 fumble recoveries, 5 forced fumbles, a blocked field goal and a blocked extra point attempt. The Giants released Hilton on Aug. 31.
J. Smith (6-1, 224) began his pro career with Jacksonville after he signed with the Jaguars in 2003 as an undrafted free agent. He started the ’03 season on the Jags’ active roster, but he was moved to the team’s practice squad for the rest of the season. Smith appeared in one exhibition game with Jacksonville in ’04, but he didn’t have any carries. Smith rushed for 2,189 yards and 24 touchdowns in two seasons at Louisiana Tech. As a senior in 2002, he rushed 207 times for 1,217 yards and 16 touchdowns and was a first-team all-conference choice.
Suber (5-9, 189) played quarterback for Bethune-Cookman for four years. He started 34 of the 45 games he played in, passing for 4,979 yards and rushing for 2,897 yards. He combined for 79 touchdowns. Like J. Smith, Suber also spent the preseason with Jacksonville. He played in two preseason games with one start. Suber, who gives the Bucs a mobile and simulation-style quarterback while making the transition from signal caller to wide receiver in the pros, caught two passes for 33 yards with the Jags. He played his prep football at Tampa Catholic high school.
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