Saturday, May 26, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs take chance on ex-Eagle Josh Huff after arrest, release

TAMPA — Josh Huff shook hands with some of his new Bucs teammates, who lined up to greet him for the first time as he stood at his locker Monday. Wearing a white No. 15 jersey, he was among the last players off the practice field after spending extra time running routes and catching passes from Jameis Winston.

It's not unusual for a player with the hands and speed of Huff to get a second chance. Only one week ago, on Nov. 1, after watching film at the Eagles' NovaCare complex, Huff was pulled over for speeding around 11 a.m. on the New Jersey side of the Walt Whitman Bridge and charged with possessing less than 50 grams of marijuana, a 9mm handgun without a permit and for a magazine found with six hollow-point bullets.

The Eagles placed Huff on waivers last week and he was not claimed, left to wonder where his NFL career would resume.

Huff, 25, said he is motivated and ready to move on. He could turn a setback into a comeback if he can help the injury-depleted Bucs improve on a 3-5 start.

Huff was signed to the Bucs' practice squad Monday, and the team is expected to have an opening on the 53-man roster with defensive end Howard Jones headed to injured reserve.

"You live and you learn, man," Huff said. "Obviously, I'm mad I put myself in that situation. But you live and you learn, but I'm excited to be here and excited to get going and get used to my new teammates and players around here and get used to the staff.

"I'm very blessed. But at the same time I know mistakes happen, lessons are learned and I'm ready to move forward from that and start a new home in Tampa."

For a team that released Austin Seferian-Jenkins after he was charged with a DUI on Sept. 23, the signing of Huff may seem odd. But Seferian-Jenkins' arrest was merely the last of a multitude of reasons why the Bucs were dissatisfied with the tight end.

Huff could add a kick returner and receiver to a depleted offense that has lost Vincent Jackson to a knee injury and placed Louis Murphy on the physically unable to perform reserve list Monday.

Huff has two kickoff returns for touchdowns in his three NFL seasons, including a 98-yarder this season. He has 48 career catches as well, including 13 for 72 yards and a touchdown in seven games this season.

"We signed him to the practice squad. That's it," coach Dirk Koetter said Monday. "All your practice squad guys are developmental guys you're trying to look at. We had Josh in the Senior Bowl a few years ago when I was coaching in Atlanta. We've got 10 guys on our practice squad, and we're trying to develop those guys who could help us down the road."

It's no surprise Koetter would take a chance on Huff, who played under Mark Helfrich at Oregon. Helfrich was a graduate assistant at Oregon when Koetter was the Ducks' offensive coordinator in 1997 and worked under him for eight years at Boise State and Arizona State.

Huff was uncertain how quickly he could contribute after joining the Bucs at midseason.

"I admit, it's going to be tough with it being the middle of the season," Huff said. "But I'm up for the challenge. I'm a competitor. I'm going to be here in the playbook and try to do everything I can to show these coaches I'm here for a good reason.

"Obviously, my job isn't to help them, it's to help better them in a way. But that's in the long run. My main focus right now is to learn the playbook, learn my teammates and learn how they do things around here."

Huff could help immediately on special teams. Currently, the Bucs are using rookie safety Ryan Smith to return kickoffs and receiver Adam Humphries to return punts.

"I love special teams," Huff said. "It's a chance to change the momentum of the game, and there were big plays (Sunday) that were able to change the momentum of the games. I'm just looking to picking up where I left off."

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