After the final cut day, all NFL teams search the player discard list and make more final changes by claiming some off waivers and releasing others too. During this process all teams fill out the composition of their eight-man practice squad as well.
The idea is to bring the very best players to the first snap of the season on game day. Most of those waived are draft picks and low-experienced players that didn’t earn or fit schemes. It’s an important time as sometimes a contributing player, a so-called sleeper, is signed. With final moves it’s clear the Bucs are not afraid to bring in young players.
The Bucs released veterans, WR Reggie Brown and RB Clifton Smith to make room for rookie RB LeGarrette Blount at 247 pounds, a load in the back field. The Bucs’ brain trust also went for more youth by signing C/G Ted Larsen and RB Kregg Lumpkin. Coaches were obviously impressed with Punter Chris Bryan to bring him in and ultimately demote draft pick Brent Bowden to the practice squad. T Derek Hardman had shown versatility, but his bubble spot was snatched by rookie C/G Larsen.
Head Coach Raheem Morris addressed the scenarios on www.Buccaneers.com.
"It's time to get out and try to set the tone for us," Morris said. "The team is ready, the staff is ready and our organization is ready as a whole. It's time to go out there and be your best self, like we've talked about all offseason. We've been talking about it for a long time, and now we're here.”
The final squad goes to the first snap with some valuable veterans:
CB Ronde Barber (20), LB Barrett Ruud (51), Jeff Fain (52), RB Carnell Williams (24), TE Kellen Winslow (82)
The defense is better than last year already with performance from young but experienced players:
CB E.J. Biggers (31) LB Quincy Black (58), S Sean Jones (26) S Geno Hayes (54)
These young defensive players could be critical to an improved season:
DE/DT Kyle Moore (94), DT Gerald McCoy (93), DT Brian Price (92)
Moore was injured last year, but healthy now. High draft picks often have high expectations, and McCoy and Price have big roles. Price is expected to pull double duty by moving positions at the line in the 4-3 defensive.
The 2010 season eight-man practice squad, going into the first game:
- S Vince Anderson
- T Will Barker
- P Brent Bowden
- WR Dezmon Briscoe
- T Derek Hardman
- DE George Johnson
- TE Ryan Purvis
- LB Lee Robinson
LB Jon Alston
C Johnathan Compas
T Demar Dotson
DE Brandon Gilbeaux
CB Aqib Talib is on the reserve/suspended list, and will return after a one game suspension.
Tweaking the makeup of a 53-man team and eight-man practice squad is a constant task, especially as injuries mount during the brutal season. That fluid process is halted for now, and the result happens to be a youthful team.
The kickoff of the 2010 Buccaneer season is Sunday. Coach Morris understands the magnitude of that moment.
"There's no excuse for being young," said Morris. "We've got to go out there and start faster than anyone expects or anyone believes. It starts with the whole philosophy of what we talked about in the offseason–fast, smart, hard, consistent. Those are the things that are going to help you grow up faster than you should."
Growing up fast is blitzing the Bucs’ way.
Photo credit: Dwight Drum @ Racetake.com