Bucs likely to promote LB Josh Keyes to 53-man roster
For the second day in a row, the Bucs are expected to tweak their opening-day roster to add depth to offset an injury, with second-year linebacker Josh Keyes expected to be promoted from the practice squad.
Keyes, 23, stepped in as the team's backup strongside linebacker in the final two preseason games, replacing rookie Devante Bond, who has been limited in practice after returning this week. If Bond weren't able to play, the Bucs would have only four linebackers available without promoting Keyes.
"We wanted to get an extra linebacker for this game, so any time you're getting an extra at one place, you're robbing Peter to pay Paul somewhere else," coach Dirk Koetter said after Thursday's practice.
The Bucs had to make a similar move Wednesday, waiving No. 3 running back Mike James, who had been limited by injury, promoting rookie Peyton Barber from the practice squad to take his place and end any injury concerns. The Bucs didn't immediately announce the Keyes move, so it's unknown what the corresponding move would be to open a spot on the 53-man roster.
"Peyton's the next man up. He's a rookie, runs the ball well," Koetter said. "All rookie backs, I think their biggest issue is protection. He's learning, and he's our guy right now."
Keyes spent time last season on the Bucs' practice squad as an undrafted rookie, then was promoted to the active roster for the final seven games. He had two special-teams tackles and filled in on defense late in the season, with five tackles, including four in the season-ending loss to Carolina.
Keyes would be the team's third roster addition this week, joining Barber and receiver Cecil Shorts, who was signed as a free agent to upgrade the Bucs' depth at receiver. Receiver Evan Spencer, waived to make room for Shorts on the active roster, was added to the practice squad Thursday, taking the spot vacated when Shorts was promoted.