Bucs sign LB Micah Awe, OL Kelby Johnson after rookie minicamp
Even though they can only keep 53 players on their active roster when the season starts, the Bucs are very active in churning the bottom of their 90-man offseason roster, searching for upside and potential even in the quality of their undrafted rookies.
So it's no surprise that after this weekend's rookie minicamp, the Bucs have again tweaked their roster. We've confirmed that two prospects who came in as tryout player -- Texas Tech LB Micah Awe and Louisville OL Kelby Johnson -- have been signed as free agents.
There still could be additional moves, of course, but we also can report that Tyson Coleman, a linebacker from Oregon who had been signed as an undrafted rookie free agent, announced he'd been cut. "Thankful for the opportunity," he wrote on Twitter. "But it didn't work out in Tampa. Back in lake O till the next call."
Another opening could be related to Anthony Kelly, a receiver from tiny Kutztown State who was signed but did not participate in rookie minicamp. The issue is differing opinions on the severity of a knee injury, but that could be resolved today as well.
Awe, whose last name is pronounced AH-way, was born in Nigeria, like Bucs rookie offensive lineman Caleb Benenoch, and he played at Texas Tech with another Bucs rookie lineman, Dominique Robertson. Awe is undersized for an NFL linebacker at 6 feet, 220 pounds, but was Texas Tech's leading tackler last year with 126 tackles -- by comparison, second-year pro Kwon Alexander is only 6-1, 227. There's some thought that he could be used in a linebacker/safety hybrid role, as Arizona did with Deone Bucannon (6-1, 211) last year and the Rams with Mark Barron (6-1, 214).
As we've mentioned, there will be a good battle for the backup linebacker spots, with draft pick Devante Bond in line to be the fourth linebacker and Awe and fellow rookies Cassanova McKinzy and Luke Rhodes competing against returning players like Jeremiah George, Josh Keyes and Adarius Glanton.
Johnson, listed by Louisville at 6-7, 301 pounds, started his college career at Virginia, with two years there and a year of junior college before playing his final two years with the Cardinals. Certainly a curious signing -- he started only one game in two years at Louisville (at right tackle against Samford last fall) and played primarily on special teams. He played some basketball in high school, so there's more athleticism than would be expected from a 300-pounder. Here's an interview with him from before the draft.