Thursday, October 18, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs add backup QB, put Dotson on IR on busy day

TAMPA — The Bucs called Sunday morning their "second draft," a chance to make the most of having first claim to players waived as the rest of the league made its final roster cuts.

And Tampa Bay didn't disappoint, claiming five players — including a backup quarterback, Ryan Griffin from the Saints — to continue churning the bottom of their roster. Of the Bucs' 53 players as of Sunday night, 10 had been added since Aug. 11.

Griffin, who hadn't taken a snap in two seasons in New Orleans, will compete with Mike Glennon as backup to rookie Jameis Winston. The other new additions include a pair of linebackers who could help on special teams, James-Michael Johnson from the Chiefs and Clearwater High alumnus Jeremiah George from the Jaguars; defensive end Kourtnei Brown from the Texans; and backup center Eric Kush from the Chiefs.

The Bucs' five waiver claims were the most in the league Sunday; no other team had more than two.

To make room for two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Tim Jennings, the Bucs shifted injured tackle Demar Dotson to short-term injured reserve, which means he will miss the first seven games of the season — four more than originally hoped — as he gets his left knee healthy. He was hurt in the preseason opener.

Johnson, who had 51 tackles for the Chiefs last year, should help on special teams; he had eight special teams tackles for Kansas City in 2013, when Bucs special teams coordinator Kevin O'Dea was an assistant there. George, a fourth-round draft pick of the Jets in 2013, had 21 tackles in the preseason for the Jaguars.

Brown is well-traveled, having been cut by six teams without playing in a regular-season game. He had a strong preseason — seen by many as HBO's Hard Knocks chronicled the Texans' bubble players — with three sacks and an interception returned for a touchdown.

With Kush, the Bucs will carry three centers initially, with rookie Jeremiah Warren from USF also on the roster as a backup to starter Evan Smith. The Bucs will open the season with an extremely young offensive line. Of the nine linemen on the roster, four have never played offense in an NFL game, and only three have played in more than seven games in their careers.

HEADED OUT: To make room for the additions, the Bucs had to cut five players who had made their initial cut to 53: undrafted rookie receiver Rannell Hall (UCF), tight end Cam Brate, guard Kadeem Edwards (a 2014 fifth-round pick), tackle Reid Fragel and veteran linebacker Jason Williams.

PRACTICE SQUAD: After all the maneuvering on the 53-man roster, the Bucs filled eight of the 10 spots on their practice squad, including with five players they waived Friday: receivers Donteea Dye and Kaelin Clay, linebacker Josh Keyes, defensive back Jude Adjei-Barimah and tackle Edawn Coughman.

Of the three newcomers, the most intriguing is former Steelers defensive end Howard Jones, who played at Division II Shepherd and will carry a full rookie salary despite being on the practice squad. Jones had freakish numbers at the 2014 NFL combine, running the 40 in 4.60 seconds and sporting a 40.5-inch vertical leap.

The Bucs also added former Rams cornerback Imoan Claiborne, who played at Northwestern State, and mammoth tackle Terren Jones (6 feet 7, 341 pounds), who had been with the Titans and Bills in preseason.

Two spots still were open on the practice squad. If Hall isn't claimed on waivers by 4 p.m. Monday, he could fill one of those.

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

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