Rookie Evan Spencer to make debut against Bears
Bucs rookie WR Evan Spencer has been promoted from the practice squad to the team's 53-man roster and can make his NFL debut Sunday against a Bears team he grew up around.
Spencer's father, Tim, the Bucs' running backs coach, had the same role on Lovie Smith's Bears staff from 2004-12.
"It's going to be really special," said Spencer, 6-foot-2 and 208 pounds, who played at Ohio State and was drafted by the Redskins in the sixth round. "I got the call from my agent and said 'Oh, my God, this is going to be sweet.' All my friends back home will get a chance to watch, so I'm really excited."
Spencer was 11 when his father started coaching with the Bears and he grew up around the team, trying to get to practices and games whenever his schedule as a high school and college player allowed it.
"I was trying to be around as much as I could -- I was still trying to learn as much as I could about football," said Spencer, who remains friends with Bears running back Matt Forte. "It's going to be fun."
Spencer caught 52 passes for 579 yards and seven touchdowns in four years at Ohio State, and he'll be the third rookie playing receiver for the Bucs, along with Adam Humphries and Donteea Dye. His best chance to make an impact Sunday will be on special teams, as he's replacing linebacker Orie Lemon, a regular on special teams.
"It's always been vital in my game," said Spencer, who had four special-teams tackle at Ohio State last year. "I'm going to go out and do whatever I can on special teams to contribute. Whatever they ask me to do, I'm going to do it to the best of my ability as hard as I can."
Smith said Spencer can follow in the path of receiver Russell Shepard, who has held down a spot on the Bucs' roster for three seasons, mostly on his value on special teams in kick coverage, more so than limited opportunities as a backup receiver.
"You're always looking for athletes with a little bit of size that can do a lot of different things," Smith said. "At the receiver position, that's the way Russell Shepard made his name. I've seen guys with similar talent level as Evan, they get an opportunity. We've been looking at him for a long time on the look squad. Good size, he can catch, tough guy, good speed. That's why we moved him up."