As it stands right now, Dirk Johnson is the new starting punter for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

That became evident on Monday when the Bucs placed Josh Bidwell on injured reserve due to severe hip pain stemming from Tuesday's practice. Bidwell, 33, injured the hip on Tuesday during the special teams portion of practice and experienced painful swelling Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.

"We wanted to give Josh a couple days and let him see how he felt," said Bucs general manager Mark Dominik. "We had a specialist take a look at it as well. We wanted to cover all our grounds because he's a great punter for us, but in the end we felt it was most important talking with Josh and talking with Coach [Raheem] Morris that it was a decision we had to make. So we went ahead to have him get surgery and get scoped so that resulted in us having to put him on injured reserve this weekend.

"His hip started flaring up in terms of pain. I don't want to get too specific in terms of injuries. Our beliefs and thoughts are once we get it scoped it should be pain-free and go from there."

Bidwell's injury is not believed to be career threatening.

Tampa Bay held punter tryouts last Thursday and signed Johnson, who replaced Bidwell in Saturday night's preseason opener in Tennessee.

Johnson's holding was flawless in Tennessee, and his punting was not too shabby as well. Johnson averaged 41.4 yards per punt with a 39-yard net against the Titans. Of his five punts, two were downed inside the Titans' 20-yard line and Johnson didn't have any touchbacks.

"I was proud of what Dirk did in the first game, but it's like everything else we're doing here at camp, we're going to continue to look at all positions and we'll continue to look at punter," Dominik said.

Bidwell, a Pro Bowler during the 2005 season, has not missed an NFL game since 1999, appearing in 144 consecutive games. He has totaled 727 career punts for 31,085 yards (42.8 avg.) throughout his career. Since joining the Bucs in 2004, he has registered a 44.0-yard average, which is best in franchise history.

Wide receiver Marcus Maxwell was signed to fill the roster spot vacated by Bidwell going on IR. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Maxwell, who entered the league out of Oregon as a seventh-round pick by the 49ers, has four years of NFL experience with San Francisco (2005-06), Cincinnati (2007) and Baltimore (2008). Maxwell has played in nine games over the past two years and has registered one NFL catch for five yards back in '07 with the Bengals.

"I think you saw that during the game we didn't have as many receivers active as would like to," Dominik said. "Michael Clayton is back today so that's great, but to me you can't have enough legs. We're still looking for guys to compete and it's still a position that's open for someone to take."

 

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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: sr@pewterreport.com
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