Bucs WR Donteea Dye - Photo by: Getty Images
You can’t make the club in the tub.
The best ability is availability.
Those are among the catchy slogans NFL coaches and personnel departments use to state how important it is for players to stay healthy.
Bucs WR Donteea Dye – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
It’s tough because most players can’t control injuries like the hamstring tear Donteea Dye suffered on the 21-yard opening kickoff in Tampa Bay’s 30-13 rout of Cleveland on Friday night.
Dye was having a good preseason and was on his way to winning the Bucs’ kick return duties with a 26.7-yard average when his hamstring gave way, and that derailed his chances of making the 53-man roster. I even featured the strides he was making in training camp in last Friday’s SR’s Fab 5.
How quickly an injury can change things.
It’s no secret that NFL teams prefer healthy players instead of injured ones, but injured players can’t help the team on Sundays. Dye’s injury will keep him out of action for several weeks, and because of that, Tampa Bay can’t afford to wait for him to heal and only have 52 healthy players available, so the team waived him injured and reached an injury settlement. The team also cut reserve offensive lineman Joel Hale on Tuesday.
The Bucs won’t be allowed to sign him back for three weeks as a result, and there is a chance he could sign with another team, although coming off an injury and with such little body of work in the NFL after one year – 11 catches for 132 yards and one touchdown – makes it unlikely Dye will surface elsewhere in September. Placing Dye on injured reserve, as the team did with receiver Kenny Bell last year, would mean he’s done for the season. Waiving Dye injured at least gives him a chance to play for the Bucs – or another team – in 2016 when his hamstring heals.
Tampa Bay will have five wide receivers on September 11 when they start the 2016 regular season against Atlanta, but Dye won’t be one of them. Whoever mans the fourth and fifth receiver spots for the Bucs behind Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson and Adam Humphries will need to impress on special teams and on offense to keep their spot, otherwise a healthy Dye may re-emerge as a viable option in Tampa Bay in a month.
Bucs WRs Adam Humphries and Donteea Dye – Photo by: Cliff Welch
There were several players who were released in the final roster cuts last year – and even during points of the season – that eventually made their way back to Tampa Bay, including cornerback Jude Adjei-Barimah, tight end Cameron Brate, who had a brief stint in New Orleans, and even fellow wide receiver Adam Humphries, who was cut in order to open up a spot for Dye to move up from the practice squad to the 53-man roster last October.
Dye was one of those players who benefited from Bell, a fifth-round pick in 2015, being placed on injured reserve last year as that created an open roster spot at the receiver position. Perhaps this year it’s Bell, who has struggled in camp, that can have a sensational game on Wednesday night against Washington and can benefit from Dye’s misfortune to shine in the final preseason game to grab the fifth receiver spot that Dye was occupying heading into the third preseason game.
Or maybe it’s Bernard Reedy, who had a 21-yard kickoff and averaged 19.7 yards on three punt returns, including a 43-yarder against Cleveland. Reedy has three catches for 44 yards through three preseason games and is expected be one of the featured players on offense and as a kick and punt returner on Wednesday night against the Redskins.
The lesson learned for any player fighting for a reserve spot on Tampa Bay’s 53-man roster heading into the preseason finale Wednesday night? Stay healthy.
Scott Reynolds is in his 23rd 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 enjoys 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: [email protected]
I really feel for the kid. But, it’s not over for him either. This should make tomorrow’s battle for kick returner interesting. Go Bucs and stay safe!
Looking forward to Murphy getting back…maybe by the bye-week?
Probably should have stretched better in warm ups but I think he will be back.
I had a problem with him missing a few easy catches last year and then the bonehead play in St. Louis but he was a rookie and I wish him no ill will.
If he can improve the team after his injury heals I will welcome him back with open arms and an open mind.
I keep thinking that Kenny Bell’s lack of experience . . . of the speed and physical part of the NFL has been hurting him. Donteea Dye, for one, was able get some experience last year, which with a little work could have allowed him to go from small school to a successful NFL career. Now, next year, others could be getting that experience, not to mention another draft class of Wr’s. Well, we’ll see. He does have special teams value; so that can still give him an edge to make it next year.
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