TAMPA — The Bucs made their first wave of preseason cuts Sunday, releasing 12 players, and in doing so they made newcomer Bryan Anger the punter for 2016.
Anger, a 2012 third-round draft pick of the Jaguars, is on a one-year contract with Tampa Bay. He beat out incumbent Jake Schum, who was among Sunday's cuts. The biggest name cut loose was veteran safety Major Wright, who had 76 tackles in the past two seasons for the Bucs but had fallen into a backup role.
The Bucs must make two more moves by Tuesday to reach the initial roster limit of 75 players, then another 20 by Saturday to reach the final roster of 53. Guard J.R. Sweezy and wide receiver Louis Murphy are likely to go on the physically-unable-to-perform list.
A third player who spent 2015 with the Bucs was also cut, former Clearwater High linebacker Jeremiah George, who made a key block on a punt-return touchdown in Friday's 30-13 preseason win against the Browns but hadn't made an impact outside of special teams. Former Jefferson High and USF receiver Andre Davis was also waived.
The remaining cuts were largely expected: former UCF and Miami running back Storm Johnson, tight end Tevin Westbrook, offensive lineman Taylor Fallin, defensive end Martin Ifedi, defensive tackles Ishmaa'ily Kitchen and Travis Britz, safety Kimario McFadden and cornerback Daniel Davie.
Anger, 27, performed better than Schum in the first three preseason games as the punters rotated. Anger averaged 48.7 yards per punt, Schum 41.0. Anger had a net average of 44.1 to Schum's 39.5.
The two had also rotated working as holder on kicks, which some had thought could have been part of rookie kicker Roberto Aguayo's struggles in the first two preseason games. Friday, Anger held on five of Aguayo's six kicks. Aguayo went 3-for-3 on field goals and 3-for-3 on extra points.
Wright, 28, was due to make $1.75 million in 2016 and lost out to rookie Ryan Smith for the Bucs' fourth and perhaps final safety spot.
After cutting Johnson, the Bucs have three players competing to be the No. 3 running back: veteran Mike James and rookies Peyton Barber and Russell Hansbrough.
Coach Dirk Koetter suggested at the start of training camp that Tampa Bay could scour the waiver wire for the best players cut loose this week, so current players aren't competing just with teammates but the best castaways from around the league.
The Bucs lack depth at receiver, for instance, and the Eagles on Sunday released Rueben Randle, 25, who had eight touchdown catches with the Giants last season.