Sunday, February 25, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Battle for backup WR spots heats up for Bucs

TAMPA — A closer look at Bucs WR Donteea Dye's hamstring injury showed he is likely to miss four weeks, and the Bucs waived-injured him Monday, getting within one spot of today's 75-man roster cutdown.

Dye, who started five games last season and caught 11 passes as an undrafted rookie, was in position to make the roster and be Tampa Bay's primary kickoff returner. But he was hurt early in Friday's preseason win against the Browns.

Dye could rejoin the Bucs once he's healthy, but won't be part of the initial roster, which will be set this weekend after final cuts.

His departure opens up the No. 5 receiver spot — which could go to young options like Evan Spencer, Kenny Bell or former Lakewood standout Bernard Reedy — as well as the kickoff return job, where Reedy and rookie Ryan Smith have gotten looks in the preseason.

The Bucs have 76 players on roster, and must get to 75 by the NFL's 4 p.m. deadline today.

Battle won: Upon Jake Schum's release Sunday, newcomer Bryan Anger won the punting job. Anger had a clear statistical advantage in three preseason games.

"I've been hitting the ball well the last few weeks," Anger said Monday. "The whole preseason is a process building up to Week 1. I feel like I'm at a good point right now, consistency-wise, and I have one more game (before) Atlanta so I feel like I'm at a good spot and ready to go."

Anger averaged 48.7 yards on his punts, while Schum averaged 41, and Anger had a higher net average (44.1 to 39.5). Anger said going up against Schum, last year's Bucs starter, helped push him since the start of training camp.

"Jake has a really good leg, one of the biggest I've ever seen personally," he said. "It's tough at our position to constantly have self-motivation. You really have to hold yourself accountable to do the little things and build consistency with yourself. To have somebody pushing you the whole time, it definitely made me a better punter having him here. I'm hoping for the best for him."

Make it three: Coach Dirk Koetter said it's safe to say he'll carry three quarterbacks again, which means Ryan Griffin will be back behind starter Jameis Winston and Mike Glennon. Koetter also expects to carry four safeties, but stopped short of saying that rookie Ryan Smith had locked up a spot behind starters Chris Conte and Bradley McDougald and backup Keith Tandy.

Injuries: LB Daryl Smith, sidelined nearly two weeks with an unspecified injury, returned to practice Monday, as did DT Clinton McDonald and TE Luke Stocker, who were held out of Friday's game. WR Evan Spencer, who missed the game with a knee injury, also returned. … G Ali Marpet didn't practice but was not in the boot he wore at Wednesday's practice after an ankle injury. … LB Devante Bond remained sidelined with a hamstring injury. … The team held WR Vincent Jackson, OT Demar Dotson, RB Mike James and LS Andrew DePaola out of practice.

Contact Greg Auman at [email protected]ampabay.com and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.

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