Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

With no playoffs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers to look at young players

Mossis Madu carries the ball eight times for 25 yards Sunday in his NFL debut. The undrafted rookie out of Oklahoma will be among the Bucs’ younger players who will see increased playing time in order to evaluate the roster for next season.


Mossis Madu carries the ball eight times for 25 yards Sunday in his NFL debut. The undrafted rookie out of Oklahoma will be among the Bucs’ younger players who will see increased playing time in order to evaluate the roster for next season.

TAMPA — Just learning of Mossis Madu's arrival with the Bucs would've taken some effort.

The running back's name was buried in a list of 16 undrafted free agents signed by Tampa Bay in July, a routine, annual exercise teams go through hoping to find a keeper or two. Such transactions rarely make headlines and certainly aren't accompanied by expectations.

But Madu came in with intentions and ambitions. Now, for Madu and players like him, opportunity is presenting itself.

"I'm as ready as I'll ever get," said Madu, who made his debut Sunday against Carolina and could see more action down the stretch.

"I feel like my head is in the playbook, and I'm in a good place. I know my stuff, and I'm ready to go out there and produce."

With many of the Bucs' goals unreachable thanks to the current six-game losing streak that has left them at 4-8, coach Raheem Morris intends to turn an eye toward next season by finding out what kind of talent is hidden deep on his roster.

Already, defensive end Da'Quan Bowers has emerged the past few weeks after playing sparingly for most of the season.

But Bowers was a second-round pick, hardly a long shot. Morris wants to see the upside of players such as Madu, cornerback Anthony Gaitor and safety Larry Asante.

"People are getting opportunities to play," Morris said. "Some of those are coming because of injuries. Some of those are coming because they (earned) it in practice. It's time to check them out and evaluate them."

The idea is simple: When the offseason arrives and the task of forming next season's roster begins, the team hopes to have a better handle on what these players are and — more important — what they might become.

These players, while young, understand the value of precious playing time.

"This is what I've been waiting for," said Gaitor, a seventh-round pick out of Florida International in April who before Sunday against Carolina had played only on special teams.

"When that opportunity comes, you just better be ready to play. There's no more talking about you're a rookie or whatever. You didn't have an offseason (because of the lockout)? Whatever. You have to go out and play."

Said Asante, a standout at Nebraska signed off the Browns' practice squad last season: "I'm just praying the Lord makes a way to get me out there on that field. I know what I can do. I just need a chance. That's basically what I'm waiting for; to go out there and have a real shot; to be able to be out there long enough to get comfortable. I've never really gotten a chance to do that."

It's much too early to know what future role, if any, Madu, a standout at Oklahoma, can play.

"He's done some good things throughout the year in practice situations," offensive coordinator Greg Olson said of Madu, who rushed eight times for 25 yards Sunday. "And he's done some things in the game that we've liked.

"I think he definitely has the abilities to be a third-down back, at a minimum. He's very good out of the backfield. He's got very good hands. He's a smart guy. He understands (pass) protections. I think that would be a good start for him."

Whether Madu and the other young players assume larger roles in the future is mostly up to them.

"You're going to get some of these guys back and continue to build for the future," Morris said. "To watch a guy like Madu go out there and make a couple of plays, to be a part of the rotation, that is what we're looking for."

Stephen F. Holder can be reached at

With no playoffs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers to look at young players 12/08/11 [Last modified: Thursday, December 8, 2011 10:12pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Alex Faedo, Florida advance to face LSU in College World Series finals


    OMAHA, Neb. — Alex Faedo pitched three-hit ball for 71/3 innings in a second straight strong performance against TCU, and Florida moved to the College World Series finals with a 3-0 win Saturday night.

    Florida’s Austin Langworthy scores on a single by Mike Rivera in the second inning during a 3-0 victory over TCU.
  2. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect


    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  3. Rays journal: Jumbo Diaz falters after getting within a strike of ending rally

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Saturday's game got away starting with a leadoff walk in the seventh inning by Rays LHP Jose Alvarado, who was brought in exclusively to face Baltimore's lefty-swinging Seth Smith.

    Rays reliever Jumbo Diaz wipes his face as he walks off the mound after the Orioles score four during the seventh inning to give them a 7-3 lead. Diaz was one strike away from working out of the jam before he allowed a two-run double and a two-run homer on back-to-back pitches.
  4. Rookie Jake Faria dissatisfied with performance in Rays' loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The rookie pitcher walked to his locker Saturday after tossing the fourth quality start in as many tries to begin his career. He held the potent Orioles bats to three runs and for six innings gave his team a chance to win.

    Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tags out the Rays’ Mallex Smith at third after a rundown in the first inning.
  5. Roger Mooney's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    It was refreshing to see RHP Jacob Faria take the blame after the loss even though he gave the Rays a chance to win. Too often young pitchers are encouraged by what they did and not necessarily the outcome, but Faria, making just his fourth big-league start, came to the Trop to win, didn't, and pointed the finger …