The Bucs' preseason opened with receiver Kenny Bell fumbling a kickoff return on the opening play at Philadelphia, and as it closes Wednesday night against the Redskins, he's hopeful to get another shot on kickoffs to help his case to make the Bucs' 53-man roster.
"I hope so. I do believe I will," Bell said of the opening for a kickoff returner with Donteea Dye waived this week after sustaining a hamstring injury. "Anything I can do in a positive manner is a good way to get on the team, whether it's gunning, covering kicks or returning them. ... Obviously I would love a second chance. I haven't gotten one yet, but definitely ready for that opportunity."
Bell has just one catch for 9 yards in the preseason, and is batting Evan Spencer and Bernard Reedy (among others) for the fifth and perhaps final receiver spot on the Bucs' roster. Wednesday's game was moved up from Thursday to help avoid expected heavy rains and high winds associated with the tropical depression moving toward Florida from the Gulf of Mexico.
"That's just unfortunate, to really stack it against you," Bell said. "You're talking about trying to make a team as a receiver, to know that a tropical storm is coming that's going to mess with the field and there's going to be a wet football. It's tough. It's the kind of stuff you have to laugh at as life is throwing punches your way. You just have to dodge them."
The Bucs are expected to give their established starters the night off, and if Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson and Adam Humphries are on the sidelines, it's much more reps for Russell Shepard, Bell and the other receivers battling for a job.
"It always helps you're going to get more chances at it," Bell said. "If you have two opportunities and one's a catch, one's a contested catch, those stick out. If you get eight targets and you catch six of them, that's huge. Going back to opportunities and how important this week is, tomorrow night's big."