By Tom Krasniqi
Those fringe players on the “bubble” get really nervous this time of year. The preseason games are in the books and teams need to make tough decisions as they craft the final 53-man roster.
You never want to get a call from “The Turk.” He’s the guy who has the thankless job of delivering the ominous news to those players— “Coach wants to see you, bring your playbook.”
“As a head football coach, it’s one of my hardest days,” Lovie Smith said during his Friday press conference which aired live on 620am WDAE and 95.3FM. “You’ve been around a lot of guys and you have to give them bad news as much as anything.”
On Friday, 12 players were given the bad news— DB Marc Anthony, LB Nate Askew, OT Edawn Coughman, CB Kip Edwards, DE T.J. Fatinikun, CB Anthony Gator, LB Ka’Lial Glaud, CB Keith Lewis, OL Andrew Miller, FB Lonnie Pryor, OL Jeremiah Warren and T/G Jamon Meredith.
Meredith is the big name on the list. He opened camp as one of the starting guards but struggled mightily in preseason games. He was demoted to backup tackle and now, he’s off the team.
Lovie hinted that more cuts could come down on Friday with the rest coming on Saturday. The Bucs currently have 63 players on their roster so they need to slash 10 more players by the 4pm deadline on Saturday.
Some of the players cut could still find their way back to the team on the practice squad— which was expanded from 8 to 10 players. Lewis and Askew are prime candidates. Each came up with an interception against the Redskins on Thursday night.
Lovie called the Redskins game “disappointing” and says many players did not help themselves.
“There weren’t a whole lot of highlights,” Lovie confessed.
That’s why you saw a number of players jettisoned right away. Lovie says he’s also “very concerned” with the amount of pressure on the QB (or lack thereof) from the 2nd and 3rd stringers along the defensive line. That could bode well for a guy like DE/DT Da’Quan Bowers, who didn’t play because of a groin injury.
Lovie made it clear— he and GM Jason Licht will be shopping around this weekend for talent after every team cuts down their roster so it looks like the final 53 will not be etched in stone.
“There are players that may end up on on 53 man active roster that aren’t here right now,” Lovie stated.
Once the roster is finally settled, the focus will on Carolina next Sunday. Finally, the games will start to count. And Lovie is confident that he’ll field a good football team.
“We’re going into this Carolina game feeling like—first off, we’re going to be playing good football, and the arrow is pointing in the right direction,” Lovie said.
Bucs fans hope that’s the case. They won’t have to wait long until they find out just how good this team can be.
News & notes:
- After the initial wave of cuts, the Bucs released K Connor Barth which means that Patrick Murray will be the team’s kicker. Murray impressed the coaches throughout the summer because of his versatility— He can kickoff, kick FGs and PATs as well as punt. Barth didn’t look quite as sharp throughout camp. He missed all of last season with a torn Achilles. The team will save about $2 million in cap space.
- Lovie says offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford “continues to get better each day” but refused to give a timetable for his return. Tedford underwent an unspecified medical procedure earlier this week.
- WR Louis Murphy injured his back against the Redskins game. Lovie doesn’t believe the injury is serious but it could impact how the team pares down the roster.
- Lovie is confident that new LG Logan Mankins will be ready for Carolina: “I watched him work out from my window (in his office) today. He knows how to get himself ready.”
- I asked Lovie if he had settled on a starter for right guard, he replied: “We feel pretty good about who will start. Have we settled on it? Yes, for the most part, we have.” He declined to name the starter. Patrick Omameh figures to be the favorite although the Bucs could be looking around for help once every team makes their cuts.
- Lovie went on to say that starters at every position have been decided.
- CB Mike Jenkins (hamstring) is close to returning to practice, according to Lovie.
- Next Sunday, the Bucs open their season at home against the Carolina Panthers. Our coverage begins at 12pm with the Countdown to Kickoff show on 620wdae and 95.3FM. For more details on Bucs stories and practice sound, check out 620wdae.com and buccaneers.com.
- Keep it locked on 620am WDAE and 95.3FM as well as the Bucs blog at 620wdae.com for the best Bucs coverage.