Who will make the Bucs’ final 53-man roster?

by Gary Shelton on August 28, 2018 · 0 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

Mike Evans is a lock to make the roster./JEFFREY S. KING

Mike Evans is a lock to make the roster./JEFFREY S. KING

Tuesday, 4 a.m.

It sounds as if there will be plenty of room, doesn't it?

Fifty-three players? What's hard about that? Why, from 1991-2007, NFL teams had only 45 players.. Heck, back in 1925, they had only 16.

So, at first mention, 53 sounds like plenty.

But seven of them can't play on game day. That leaves 45 which, if you count the kickers, isn't enough for every player to have a backup.

So who will the Bucs keep?

A guess as we head into the final preseason game (Thursday night against Jacksonville).

Offense: 25 players.

Quarterbacks (2): Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Griffin: Fitzpatrick has had a solid but unspectacular preseason. Still, if you look around the backups of the league, there aren't many others that you'd prefer.  The Bucs won't have to count suspended Jameis Winston for the first three weeks of the season, but after that, the team has a choice to make. Does it keep three quarterbacks? A lot of teams don't these days.

Running backs (4): Peyton Barber, Ronald Jones, Jacquizz Rogers, Shaun Wilson. A lot of teams keep five running backs, but on the Bucs, there are a glut of wide receivers and tight ends. That may be a reason for the Bucs to try to slide by with four at the beginning of the season. A pickup off the waiver wire is still possible.

Tight ends (4): O.J. Howard, Cameron Brate, Antony Auclair, Alan Cross: It's one more than a lot of teams keep, but the versatile Cross makes it worthwhile. You can count both Howard and Brate as starters, depending upon the formation. It'll be disappointing if Howard doesn't have a big year.

Wide receivers (6): Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, Chris Godwin, Adam Humprhies, Justin Watson, Bobo Wilson: Some teams may keep only four, but with this group, that would be a shame. Evans, DeSean Jackson, Chris Godwin and Adam Humphries are locks. Rookie Justin Watson has caught everything thrown his way in camp. Bernard Reedy's return skills keep him in the mix. The Bucs will consider adding Bobo Wilson, but it will be argued that the sixth wide receiver will be on the practice squad.

Offensive linemen (9): Donovan Smith, Ali Marpet, Ryan Jensen, Demar Dotson, Caleb Benenoch, Evan Smith, Michael Leidkte, Alex Cappa. The Bucs' injury status makes these selections hard.  Smith, Marpet, Jensen and Dotson are easy picks. Caleb Benenoch may start at guard. That leaves Evan Smith, Michael Leidtke and rookie Alax Cappa as the primary backups. Larry Wester could be the last selection.

Defense (25)

Defensive linemen (9): Gerald McCoy, Vita Vea, Jason Pierre-Paul, Vinny Curry, Beau Allen, Mitch Unrein, William Gholston, Noah Spence  and Will Clarke. Again, injuries have taken an early toll. We still haven't seen No. 1 pick Vea, for instance. That leaves your starting line as McCoy, Allen, Pierre-Paul and Curry. The backups include Gholston, Unrein,  Spence, and Clarke. The Bucs have to show a better pass rush than they've shown in the preseason.

Linebackers (6): Lavonte David, Kwon Alexander, Kendell Beckwith, Adarius Taylor, Devante Bond, Cameron Lynch: Once Beckwith returns, the Bucs will be solid with David, Alexander and him as starters. Taylor and Bond figure to be the backups, but both Jack Cichey and Riley Bulloch could make that hard for the Bucs' coaches to choose. Cameron Lynch makes the team because of his special teams play.

Cornerbacks (5): Brent Grimes, Vernon Hargreaves III, Ryan Smith, Carlton Davis, M.J. Stewart. Grimes is a lock. Hargreaves has had a better camp, so he'll probably make the team. Throw in second-round draft picks Davis and Stewart and backup Smith. That could leave Javien Elliott, who the Bucs like, on the outside.

Safety (5): Chris Conte, Justin Evans, Jordan Whitehead, Isaiah Johnson and Josh Robinson. The Bucs starters are locks. The Bucs are counting on Chris Conte and Justin Evans to make a few plays. Rookie Jordan Whitehead looks as if he'll make it. Safety Isaiah Johnson had a big game last week, but he needs to open some eyes this week to hold off free agent Godwin Igwebuike. Josh Robinson makes the team because of his special teams play.

Special teams (3)

Kickers and such (3): It would seem that Chandler Catanzaro will be the Bucs' kicker, but that's long been a job that's hard to hold onto. Bryan Anger is the punter. The long-snapper is Drew Ferris.


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