Clayton tops the list of Bucs cuts to reach 53-man limit
Receiver Michael Clayton tops the list of players released by the Bucs Saturday as the team kept seven other receivers, including former Florida State and North Alabama star Preston Parker.
"I hate to characterize a person as a mistake,'' general manager Mark Dominik said. "I will say this: some of the people I have the most respect for in the National Football League are the people that make the decisions for the right reasons for their organization. I've always kind of followed that mindset. I would say this morning when I talked to Michael Clayton, certainly when coach Morris talked to Michael Clayton, he handled it as good and as well as you would expect a person to handle tough news for his family and for him.
"Obviously, with the emergence and the play of Sammie Stroughter, with Mike Williams, we were able to make a decision like that where we felt like in the best interest of this football team, we're going to keep seven receivers and let Michael seek an opportunity elsewhere.''
Other players released to get to the league-mandated 53-man roster limit were CB Brandon Anderson, S Vince Anderson, RB Carlos Brown, C Jonathan Compas (waived injured), G Marc Dile, T Xavier Fulton, DE George Johnson, TE Jeron Mastrud, LB Rico McCoy, DT Dre Moore, DT Carlton Powell, TE Ryan Purvis, C Donovan Raiola, CB Derrick Roberson, LB Lee Robinson, DE James Ruffin, QB Jevan Snead, FB Rendrick Taylor, CB Trae Williams
T Demar Dotson was placed on Injured Reserve with a knee injury that will take 3-4 months to recover from, according to Dominik. Cornerback Aqib Talib was placed on the suspended list and will miss the season opener against the Cleveland Browns Sept. 12.
The Bucs informed Clayton early Saturday that he would not be with the team, but he was the exception. Tampa Bay kept rookies Mike Williams, Arrelious Benn and Parker, as well as Sammie Stroughter, Micheal Spurlock, Maurice Stovall and Reggie Brown.
"Another young guy who played well in Houston made this football team in Preston Parker,'' Dominik said. "He had a very good preseason and he learned how to do the right way because he had to do it on fourth down. Preston played very well on special teams and that got him the opportunity to earn a roster spot at this time and that's great.''
The Bucs traded a sixth-round pick to the Eagles for Brown, who has not been a contributor on special teams and may have trouble being active on Sundays.
"Reggie is going to have to have a good week of practice to get a hat on,'' Dominik said. "Because I do believe, and I think coach (Raheem) Morris has the same philosophy, coach (Greg) Olson buys into it with coach Bisaccia that you've got to play special teams to play or you've got to be one of the three receivers that are going to go out there every down. That's where Reggie has really got to come on and see if he can get a hat on every week. That's going to be up to him every week.''
Tampa Bay also kept five safties -- Tanard Jackson, Sean Jones, Sabby Piscitelli, Cody Grimm and Corey Lynch.
"The safety position was a heavy battle,'' Dominik said. "Corey Lynch continues to show why he's in the National Football League, with his performance not only on special teams, which we've all seen, but getting in the right position to make a play. I've been very encouraged on Cody Grimm's development as a seventh-round selection. The coaches have done a great job getting him into position to make plays. I think you saw him do that and he played well on special teams as well. A big part of this football team that I've always talked about building and how we're going to do this is fourth down. The three guys right now that are the backups in Sabby, Corey and Cody were all really talented special teams players. That went into the decision why all five are on this football team.''
In fact, every member of the Bucs' 2010 draft class earned a spot on the football team.
"I really don't keep track of the draft class,'' Dominik said. "I really don't. I want them to make sure we make decisions for the best interest of this football team. I think our draft class, specifically the seventh rounders which usually have the toughest time making any football team, I think they all did show up. I think Erik Lorig played well in this last preseason game and got a lot of good pressure. He played consistently again on special teams. Dekota is probably going to be one of our most impactful rookies on fourth down on our entire football team. So I think they all stepped up and figured out how to play and that's a credit to (special teams) coach Rich Bisaccia and them buying in, understanding the mentality of how to make a football team.
"I'm not keeping score at home. It's more of trying to make sure we keep the right guys.''
At running back, the Bucs will go with Cadillac Williams, Kareem Huggins and Clifton Smith at tailback and Earnest Graham and Chris Pressley at fullback. On Tuesday, the Bucs released Derrick Ward, who signed with the Houston Texans.
"The confidence and excitement of Cadillac Williams is a big part of it,'' Dominik said of Ward's release. "And having him to have another off-season where he wasn't rehabbing every day. This was a real off-season for a real football player where he could do it the way you want to see a football player do it. I think Cadillac had a very good OTAs, he had a very good minicamp and he had a solid training camp for us. That gave us a lot of encouragement. And I still have a lot of respect for Earnest Graham being able to step into that role if need be. That really triggered the decision to go in that direction. With Kareem Huggins coming on as a good change-of-pace back and Chris Pressley making our football team as our blocking fullback, that gave me and the organization that we could move forward...that's where the logic came behind that decision.''