The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have to trim their roster down from 75 to 53 players on Saturday, September 2.
PewterReport.com forecasted Tampa Bay's 53-man roster prior to the start of the third preseason, and after evaluating player performances in training camp and all four preseason contests, Pewter Report has made its final 53-man roster prediction in this article.
Here is PewterReport.com's 53-man Buccaneers roster forecast:
QUARTERBACKS – 3 QB Chris Simms QB Bruce Gradkowski QB Tim Rattay Who gets cut? Tampa Bay already released Jay Fiedler (shoulder) and placed Luke McCown on the physically unable to perform list. The Bucs appear to be comfortable heading into the regular season with Simms, Gradkowski and Rattay as their signal callers. The question that likely won't be answered until the Bucs take the field on Sept. 10 is which player will serve as Simms' backup – Gradkowski or Rattay? PewterReport.com's best guess is Gradkowski.
RUNNING BACKS – 5 RB Cadillac Williams RB Michael Pittman RB Earnest Graham FB Mike Alstott FB Jerald Sowell Who gets cut? Running back Derek Watson and fullback Carey Davis failed to shine in their final two preseason games, and that will ultimately cost them roster spots. Razzano didn't have a great showing in the preseason finale vs. Houston. The Bucs likely will go with the veteran Sowell, who has shown some blocking ability and has soft hands, to back up Alstott and contribute on special teams. Don't be surprised if the Bucs attempt to sign Razzano and/or Davis onto their practice squad.
TIGHT ENDS – 4 TE Alex Smith TE Anthony Becht TE Doug Jolley TE-LS Dave Moore Who gets cut? Seventh-round pick Tim Massquoi and Mark Anelli finished the preseason on a strong note, but neither player will make Tampa Bay's 53-man roster after the Bucs traded an undisclosed draft pick to the New York Jets for Jolley on Thursday. However, one or both players could be candidates for the practice squad, especially after their performances vs. Houston.
WIDE RECEIVERS – 6 WR Joey Galloway WR Michael Clayton WR Ike Hilliard WR Maurice Stovall WR David Boston WR Mark Jones Who gets cut? The Bucs have kept five running backs and seven receivers before, and they could do that again this season. The Bucs likely will release Chas Gessner and Paris Warren, both of whom are still eligible for the practice squad. While he didn't flash until the final preseason game of the year, Boston appears to be the only receiver on Tampa Bay's roster that could step in and fill Galloway's shoes should the 34-year-old receiver suffer a long-term injury. That could give him the edge over Shepherd, who was expected to fare better in training camp and preseason. Shepherd could stick if the Bucs don't feel guard Dan Buenning's ankle injury is serious. But if the team has to keep an extra offensive lineman, Shepherd likely will be the odd man out.
OFFENSIVE LINE – 10 OT Anthony Davis OT Kenyatta Walker OT Jeremy Trueblood OT Cornell Green G Dan Buenning G Jeb Terry G Davin Joseph C Sean Mahan C John Wade OL Scott Jackson Who gets cut? Torrin Tucker might not be released, but he won't be on the team for much longer. The Bucs could reach an injury settlement with Tucker before Saturday in order to make a roster spot available. Jonathan Clinkscale won't stick around but could be a practice squad candidate. What Tampa Bay does after those two roster moves will rely heavily on the status of starting left guard Dan Buenning, who sustained an ankle injury on the first offensive series of Thursday's game. Fonoti is somewhat effective as a run blocker, but he's struggled in pass protection. The Bucs love Jackson's versatility – he can play all five positions along the offensive line. Tampa Bay is able to move backup center Sean Mahan over to left guard if Buenning can't go and Jeb Terry gets hurt, which could make Fonoti expendable.
DEFENSIVE LINE – 8 DE Simeon Rice DE Greg Spires DE Dewayne White DT Chris Hovan DT Anthony McFarland DT Ellis Wyms DT Jon Bradley DE Andrew Williams Who gets cut? Tampa Bay fifth-round draft pick Julian Jenkins has some special teams ability, but didn't prove to be a capable defender anywhere along the defensive line in training camp or preseason. He appears to be more of a practice squad candidate. Seventh-round pick Charles Bennett had a strong finish to the preseason on Thursday when he blocked a field goal. Still, Bennett appears to a practice squad candidate at best. Bradley solidified his spot on Tampa Bay's active roster with a six-tackle performance vs. Houston. Dewayne White and Ellis Wyms give the Bucs defensive line versatility. If the Bucs do indeed go with eight defensive linemen, the final spot will come down to Williams and Anthony Bryant. Neither player really flashed in preseason, but Williams received a lot of playing time in training camp and preseason at right end behind Rice. Bryant is known for taking plays off, and that inconsistent work ethic could cost him a roster spot.
LINEBACKERS – 6 LB Derrick Brooks LB Shelton Quarles LB Ryan Nece LB Jamie Winborn LB Barrett Ruud LB Antoine Cash Who gets cut? Tampa Bay began the 2005 regular season with five linebackers on its active roster, but it likely will keep six on its 53-man roster to start the 2006 season. Rookie LB Anthony Trucks will be released and could be a practice squad candidate. Winborn showed enough to stick as Brooks' backup, but Marquis Cooper, a 2004 third-round draft pick, could be on his way out after a disappointing training camp and preseason. In fact, Cooper's performance in the preseason finale vs. Houston was sub-par at best, which is even more disappointing seeing as he knew he was battling Cash and Wesly Mallard for a roster spot. Cash was impressive vs. Houston, recording five tackles, one pass defensed and two special teams takedowns. That outing, along with his impressive training camp and preseason, should be enough for him to earn the sixth and final linebacker spot on Tampa Bay's roster.
CORNERBACKS – 5 CB Ronde Barber CB Brian Kelly CB Juran Bolden CB Alan Zemaitis CB Torrie Cox Who gets cut? James Patrick made a late push for the fifth cornerback spot, but Torrie Cox's overall performance in training camp and preseason was better. Plus, Cox has once again shown the ability to cover punts and kickoffs, and return kickoffs in a pinch. That will make Patrick hard pressed to earn a roster spot. Like Patrick, Dwight Ellick likely will be released on Saturday.
SAFETIES – 4 SS Jermaine Phillips FS Will Allen SS Kalvin Pearson FS Blue Adams Who gets cut? Adams is a versatile player and has made a somewhat smooth transition from the cornerback to the safety position. His tackling has been impressive and he is a reliable special teams contributor. With Adams likely to make the team, Steve Cargile and Donte Nicholson, a fifth-round pick in 2005, likely will be released.
KICKING GAME – 2 K Matt Bryant P Josh Bidwell Who gets cut? There won't be any decisions to make at the kicker and punter positions. The Bucs released punter Brian Simjanovski and kicker Xavier Beitia in the first wave of roster cuts and are comfortable heading into the regular season with Bryant and Bidwell.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org