Surprises: Bucs cut safety Wright, rookie Patton
The Bucs are finishing their cut to get to the 53-man NFL limit, and they're doing it with two surprising move: releasing safety Major Wright and rookie return specialist Solomon Patton.
The two former Gators had both been seen as safe bets to make the final roster -- Patton had been handling both punt and kickoff returns the past two weeks, and Wright was the team's No. 3 safety behind starters Mark Barron and Dashon Goldson. Wright suffered a back injury in last week's game at Buffalo and didn't play in Thursday's preseason finale, but the injury wasn't believed to be anything longterm.
With Wright's release, the Bucs have only four safeties on roster -- Barron, Goldson, top backup Keith Tandy and Bradley McDougald, who is likely to still miss a few weeks as he recovers from a knee injury suffered last week. It's possible the Wright cut was made in anticipation of a corresponding signing of a player available from another team.
And with Patton gone, the return jobs are again wide-open -- the Bucs had 26 returns in preseason and 20 were from plays since cut -- Patton had 14, Jeff Demps had four and Eric Page had two. The rest are two backup running backs -- Bobby Rainey had four and Mike James two. Of the in-house options for returns, Rainey might make the most sense -- he averaged 10.0 yards on three punt returns and got 19 on his only kickoff return.
The Bucs cut five other players Saturday to get to 55 players on roster: Demps, defensive tackles Matt Masifilo and Ronald Talley, tight end Cameron Brate and quarterback Mike Kafka.