Saturday, February 24, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Defensive lineman Jayme Mitchell leaves team, claims Tampa Bay Buccaneers changed his role

TAMPA — Bucs coach Greg Schiano announced Wednesday that DE Jayme Mitchell left the team, offering little explanation.

But Mitchell's agent, Lamont Smith, shed light on his client's decision.

A 13-game starter for the Browns last season, Mitchell, 28, said "he didn't feel it was a good fit for him," according to Smith.

"He expressed some concerns about some things (Tuesday), and I asked him to stick it out a little longer. Camp is long and hard," Smith said. "But he still felt this is what he wanted to do. He spoke with his position coach, and I told him he should still have a conversation with (GM) Mark Dominik. Well, he attempted to do that. I'll leave it at that."

Smith said the Bucs had indicated when Mitchell signed during the offseason that he would have a chance to compete at defensive end, his preferred position.

His signing was seen as an effort by the Bucs to bolster the defensive end position after Da'Quan Bowers' Achilles injury. But recently, Smith said, Mitchell was playing numerous snaps at defensive tackle and with the third team.

"He just felt like he was told one thing, but the team did another," Smith said.

Mitchell has played 43 games during his combined five seasons with the Vikings and Browns. He had his best season in 2011, recording 34 tackles for Cleveland.

Also Wednesday, the Bucs waived CB Derrick Roberson, and used the two open roster spots to sign DT Teryl White (formerly of North Carolina-Central) and CB James Rogers (Michigan).

PENN EAGER: Injured LT Donald Penn met Schiano off the practice field and apparently expressed how eager he is to return from the calf strain he sustained a week before training camp. Penn has been working with trainers for nearly two weeks to rehab the injury, at times dragging heavy weights strapped to a harness.

Demar Dotson has taken all the reps at left tackle with the starting offense and will line up there in Friday's preseason opener against the Dolphins.

Schiano believes the extra work will help Penn get into top playing condition. Penn has a weight clause in his contract and last season struggled at times to stay under the 330-pound threshold.

"He's excited to get back," Schiano said of Penn. "He wants to do it. I want to make sure that when we bring him back, he's good to go. But what we don't want is a lingering injury. It's given him an opportunity to really get himself into pretty good shape, which sometimes is not as bad as you think."

NEW WRINKLE: Schiano said a big difference in coaching his first NFL game Friday, as opposed to his years at Rutgers, will be adjusting to the different instant replay rules.

"But if you think about it, the pro game is coming closer to the college game now," Schiano said. "Last year, it was scoring plays being reviewed — every scoring play — and now it's scoring plays and turnovers being reviewed. So there's less and less that, as a head coach, you can challenge, which is good."

Schiano does favor the NFL instant replay in one particular way: that the referees on the field review the play on a sideline TV and make the decision, as opposed to college, where it goes to the booth official.

BACKING UP: Backup players got a lot of key reps the past couple of practices, likely in preparation for their larger role Friday. Schiano wouldn't go into detail on how long QB Josh Freeman and the first-teamers will play, but he said "we'll have a plan for every player" and will stick with it, no matter the situation.

"That's when you get yourself in trouble: 'Ah, let him have another series,' " Schiano said. "Cooler minds prevailed in a meeting room when we decided all this, and we'll stick to the plan."

Joe Smith can be reached at [email protected]

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