Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bucs give undrafted free agents a chance

Defensive tackle DaVonte Lambert is among four undrafted free agents to make the Bucs roster.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Defensive tackle DaVonte Lambert is among four undrafted free agents to make the Bucs roster.

TAMPA — Coach Dirk Koetter told Bucs players before training camp to compete and the best players would have a spot on the roster, regardless of where or if they were drafted. He kept his word by giving jobs to four undrafted free agents: DE Channing Ward, DT DaVonte Lambert, TE Alan Cross and T Leonard Wester, who made the leap from Division II in college to the NFL.

"I think the main thing on that is it just speaks to — (general manager) Jason (Licht) saw that we wanted to keep the guys that played the best in training camp," Koetter said. "As a coach or as a player, that's really all you can ask for. We talk to our guys about competing and the guys we felt like did the best over the course of training camp, they stuck."

Cross won a job over Dan Vitale, the sixth-round pick from Northwestern who was claimed off waivers by the Bills. "He's a tough guy and he's a smart guy and he competes and he's very versatile," Koetter said. "So all things that we're looking for in every player."

That versatility was a strong reason for keeping Lambert and Ward. "Both guys can play inside or outside," Koetter said. "When they got their chances in the preseason games, they made plays, they flew around. Young, defensive linemen that you get a chance to develop, that can run and hit, those guys are hard to find. You just look around the league and big, strong, tough guys who can move, those guys are not just walking around everywhere."

Wester, from Missouri Western, will be a developmental tackle.

"Good players come from all kinds of places," Koetter said. "Whether a guy comes from Division II or whatever, there's good players everywhere in this country. Leonard, we think has got a chance to develop into a really solid player at tackle."

CAPTAIN MY CAPTAIN: Koetter announced that players have voted for team captains for the 2016 season, choosing DT Gerald McCoy and LB Lavonte David on defense, QB Jameis Winston and WR Vincent Jackson on offense and WR Russell Shepard on special teams.

Those five will have a "C" on their uniforms as part of the honor — for McCoy and Jackson, it's their fifth year as a captain, so they get a gold "C" patch on their uniforms. It's David's third year as a captain and Shepard's second, with Winston the only new captain, replacing retired G Logan Mankins.

"It's always an honor to be recognized by your peers," McCoy said. "There's really nothing bigger than that … standing out as a leader. Not everybody is called to be that, but when you are, I think it's right that you step up and be that. My teammates are recognizing me as that, so now it's my job to make sure I don't disappoint."

The Bucs will also have a sixth weekly captain that rotates in with the other five — for the opener at the Falcons on Sunday, that will be C Joe Hawley, who played in Atlanta before joining the Bucs last season.

"That's one of the biggest honors you can get in this league," Shepard said. "It's truly your peers. It's the guys you come here and work with every day, the guys you admire, guys that look up to you. It's really an honor. My mom didn't know what (the C) was last year, but hopefully she knows what it is this year."

SAFETY MEASURE: The Bucs kept four safeties and only three are likely to be active on Sunday. So they are cross-training CB Josh Robinson to play safety.

"There's a chance. We have to cross-train guys," Koetter said.

INJURIES: LB Devante Bond was the only player who did not practice Monday.

Bucs give undrafted free agents a chance 09/05/16 [Last modified: Monday, September 5, 2016 9:30pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Ryan Callahan encouraged by his return

    Blogs

    Captain Steven Stamkos wasn't the only key Lightning player to make a triumphant return Friday night against Nashville.

  2. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Friday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    RHP Alex Cobb hates to hear how he "battled through" or "grinded out" a start rather than just dominated, but that's kind of what he did Friday, allowing nine hits and a walk and being charged with two wild pitches but only three runs in earning his 12th win.

  3. Lightning's Steven Stamkos looks close to top form in first game since November

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — The wait felt like forever for Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, having gone 10 months without playing in a game.

    A scramble in front of the Lightning goal has Matthew Peca, far left, and Erik Cernak, middle, helping out goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy during the third period of a 3-1 win against the Predators. Vasilevskiy, who made 29 saves, was “exceptional,” coach Jon Cooper says.
  4. Rays journal: Alex Cobb may have pitched last game in Rays uniform (w/video)

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — RHP Alex Cobb pitched well enough to lead the Rays to an 8-3 win over the Orioles on Friday.

    Wilson Ramos gives thanks after hitting a grand slam during the second inning, putting the Rays up 4-0.
  5. Ww's Odessabeach makes run at Husker Magic stakes final

    Parimutuels

    ST. PETERSBURG — When Hurricane Irma blew through Florida earlier this month, Ww's Odessabeach remained in her comfort zone.