LANDOVER, Md. — General manager Mark Dominik has consistently said it has become suddenly difficult to make up the Bucs' roster.
And there are few places on that roster where that's more true than at wide receiver.
That was reinforced in Thursday's 29-24 loss against the Redskins, in which the Bucs' biggest play came from a receiver considered a long shot to make it past the final cut Saturday.
Ed Gant turned a quick slant from quarterback Rudy Carpenter into a 96-yard touchdown when he stepped out of a tackle, bounced off another defender, then outran everyone else for the score. He later drew a key pass interference penalty, picked up 25 yards on a deep out and caught a pass for a two-point conversion. He finished with two catches for 121 yards, but more important, he might have earned a chance for future opportunities.
But for those chances to come with the Bucs, the team will have to make decisions that lean in his favor. That means the Bucs might have to opt to keep him over another receiver they also like, such as Preston Parker or Micheal Spurlock.
The Bucs didn't have the answers after Thursday's game, but they'll have to come to conclusions by Saturday at 4 p.m., when the roster must be cut to 53.
"We have great depth at receiver," coach Raheem Morris said. "I can't say it enough. It's going to be tough."
Parker and Spurlock also played extensively Thursday, though it was not clear whether that was because of a lack of bodies or they were being submitted for last-minute evaluation.
In either case, the Bucs love that the decisions at receiver have become this difficult. The receivers keep raising the bar, in practice and in games.
"There's no animosity toward anybody with us," said Spurlock, who finished with three catches for 23 yards. "Everybody's on the same plane. If you're in the game, we're watching you and critiquing you. And when I'm in, you're watching me and critiquing me. Nobody's selfish."
And nobody has disappointed, either.
"We all can play," said Parker, who finished with two catches for 42 yards. "It's just about opportunity with us."
Thursday was Gant's long-awaited opportunity. The former North Alabama standout joined the practice squad in November and gave coaches a preview.
"We knew he had great speed a year ago," offensive coordinator Greg Olson said. "We're happy for him because he really showed it (Thursday) night."
Soon, we'll learn whether Gant will be around to show more in the future.