Tuesday afternoon Tampa Bay announced one of its final transactions of the regular season by signing a second-year safety to its practice squad.
The chances of Shelton Johnson being activated for the final game of the season are about as good as the Glazers doling out partial refunds to fans Sunday afternoon for having to endure such a miserable season. Still, that shouldn’t stop the 24-year-old from trying to take full advantage of any and every opportunity that comes his way to catch someone’s eye and increase his odds of getting invited to camp in 2015.
But that’s the situation for plenty of current, active Buccaneers role players and fill-ins as the season finale nears. Defensive linemen Larry English, T.J. Fatinikun and Da’Quan Bowers, linebackers Orie Lemon and Dane Fletcher, cornerback Brandon Dixon, safety Keith Tandy, receiver Russell Shepard, offensive linemen Garrett Gilkey and Patrick Omameh – guys like this fill every 53-man roster.
Some will be back, some probably won’t, and Sunday’s the last chance for players to put game action on tape and state their cases.
“We’ve been saying another and another, but now it’s the last time [to make a] lasting impression,” head coach Lovie Smith said. “You remember the last thing that you see most of the time. We’ve talked about Gerald, Lavonte and Mike Evans – we know what they are – but for some of the other players that haven’t done an awful lot yet or haven’t gotten the opportunity, these are valuable reps for them to show us first, I want to be here and as we rise I’m going to be a part that and [second], I’m going to be one of the reasons that we come up. This is an important football game.”
Two prime examples of players coming out of the woodwork to become regular contributors in Tampa Bay already exist on the roster. Injuries allowed linebacker Danny Lansanah and defensive end Jacquies Smith to gain more reps and both seized their individual moments.
Lovie Smith said the evaluation process to successfully mine out those hidden gems never stops at this level and will continue through Sunday.
“I think we’ve seen in these last weeks [that] we’ve had more guys coming through and working them out on the practice squad – moving up, going down,” he said. “We’ve looked at a lot of different players so I think just about everyone we have here, except of course the safety we brought in this week, we’ve seen. I think maybe there’s a couple we’ll try to get up this week.
“When I say we’re doing everything we can to win, that can be playing some young players, too. Guys like Josh Allen haven’t gotten a lot of time, so we’ve given more reps to him, Kevin Pamphile, some of our [offensive] linemen that haven’t had a lot of reps we’ll continue to try and get them some.”
Can we just forfeit?
I was thinking the same thing. Or maybe we can say there was bus problems and since the game doesn’t matter, they can just dock us the loss. Number one pick, here we come. Let’s go grab Jameis.
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