The Bucs saw something they liked late last year in Evan Spencer and they decided to keep him around to start the 2016 season.
It’s being reported that the wide receiver from Ohio State beat out four other preseason competitors for the fifth and final spot on Tampa Bay’s 53-man roster. The team has until 4 p.m. Saturday to officially announce its roster.
Spencer spoke to the media Friday afternoon and said the waiting game before cut-downs was one of the most difficult parts of the whole process.
“It’s definitely nerve-wracking because at the end of the day, you never know,” the receiver said. “And I wanted to go out there and show everybody around the organization – and mainly my teammates – that I was here for a reason and I was here because I’m going to give everything that I can for our team and help us win.”
The Bucs selected Spencer (6-foot-2, 208-pounds) over a group of young receivers that included Kenny Bell, Jonathan Krause, Freddie Martino and Bernard Reedy.
In three preseason games, Spencer finished with five catches for 54 yards. Three of those receptions came during Wednesday night’s rain game against Washington and he was the only Bucs pass catcher with two or more targets to secure them all.
“I’ve always prided myself on never having any balls on the ground,” Spencer said when asked about areas he keyed in on throughout training camp and the preseason. “So that’s one thing that’s always been my focus throughout my entire career. And on top of that, just balance in running routes, route running in general. Just a whole bunch of specific, technical receiver things that I wanted to work on and make sure that I improved on.”
Spencer did not appear in last week’s third preseason game against Cleveland and his 54 offensive snaps Wednesday were more than he saw against Philadelphia and Jacksonville combined. Other than Bell, who left the final preseason game early to be evaluated for a concussion, the receivers vying for the same roster spot all got extensive looks.
Spencer joins Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson, Adam Humphries and Russell Shepard in forming Tampa Bay’s receiving corps entering Week 1 in Atlanta next Sunday.
One question mark that remains as the team preps for the Falcons deals with the kick return situation. Bell and Reedy were two options that failed to impress this preseason. The top three options at the moment are Humphries, rookie safety Ryan Smith and running back Charles Sims.
“That’s one of the places that injuries have affected us at that position,” Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter said. “I actually like what I’ve seen from Ryan Smith. He’s got a burst and he’s not afraid and he’ll hit it in there. We go back, like I said, to injuries. We’ve known all along that Adam Humphries can go back there and do it. Adam Humphries has shown what he’s capable of with the punt returning. We’re pretty confident that Charles Sims can go back there. Sometimes we work some guys in practice that we don’t put back there in preseason games.”