1. Sports
  2. /
  3. Bucs

Why Bucs preseason sensation Tanner Hudson is still on the bubble

The second-year player has put up big receiving numbers in the preseason, but he has to do more to make the last 53.
Published Aug. 18
Updated Aug. 19

TAMPA — Life on the bubble isn’t easy, even when nearly two weeks remain until NFL rosters have to be cut to the final 53 players. That’s life for Bucs tight end Tanner Hudson despite playing the role of preseason sensation.

Through two games, Hudson is the Bucs’ leading receiver. The second-year player has scored two of the team’s six touchdowns, and his late fourth-quarter connection with quarterback Ryan Griffin offered an exciting end to an otherwise ugly 16-14 win over the Dolphins on Friday.

MORE BUCS: Has Matt Gay won the kicking job?

Not many players have done more to raise their stock, but here’s the problem: Though the Bucs will run plenty of two-tight-end sets, they are deep at the position. So Hudson’s preseason numbers — 177 yards on 13 catches — don’t guarantee him a roster spot.

With O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate, the Bucs have one of the top pass-catching tight-end duos in the league. Antony Auclair, whose specialty is as a blocking tight end, sits third on the depth chart.

Coach Bruce Arians is open to carrying four tight ends. For Hudson to make the roster he must show he can do more than catch.

“The blocking and the special teams have to pick up to beat out the other guy,” Arians said. “Whether it’s a fifth linebacker or a fifth corner … it’s special teams (that’s the difference).”

MORE BUCS: Bucs rookie Jamel Dean gets redemption with fourth-quarter interception

Hudson went undrafted out of Southern Arkansas and spent most of last season on the practice squad, dressing but not playing the the final three games.

He followed a seven-catch, 84-yard, one-touchdown night in Pittsburgh on Aug. 9 with another big game against the Dolphins. He caught six passes for 93 yards and scored the Bucs’ only touchdown, on a 4-yard pass from Griffin with 3:38 left.

His best effort on Friday night, however, might have come after the Dolphins answered with a touchdown. Hudson caught passes for gains of 18 and 27 yardsin the final 34 seconds to set up Matt Gay’s winning 48-yard field goal.

MORE BUCS: Have the Bucs finally found their kicker in Matt Gay?

"This preseason, I feel like (I have) an honest shot to go through and show what I’m capable of doing," Hudson said after Friday's game. "Just trying to put my talent out there."

Arians wanted to talk after the game less about Hudson’s receiving numbers and more about a block he missed in the third quarter.

“He hurts himself when he gets beat on third-and-1 and we don’t make the first down,” Arians said. “But if he learned to block, he could be an asset, because can really run and catch.”

Former Southern Arkansas tight end Tanner Hudson (88) has scored two of the Bucs' six preseason touchdowns [MONICA HERNDON | Times]

Arians has until Aug. 31 to trim the roster to 53.

If the Bucs choose to carry four tight ends, Hudson will have to beat out Jordan Leggett and Scott Orndoff. He also might have to prove that carrying him is better than keeping another running back or a wide receiver.

Fast-rising Dare Ogunbowale, veteran Andre Ellington and rookie Bruce Anderson are battling for the final running backs spots. Rookies Scotty Miller and Spencer Schnell are battling for the final receiver spots, through Miller has been injured and the Bucs last week claimed rookie receiver Emanuel Hall off waivers.

Justin Watson and Bobo Wilson are the favorites to round out the top five receivers after Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Breshad Perriman.

MORE BUCS: Bruce Arians’ pass interference challenge pays off in fourth quarter

Hudson will have his chance to show his worth on special teams. His 21 special-teams snaps Friday were the most of any player.

“I like to say I’ve been doing good, but you know it all comes down to the film,” Hudson said. “Watching it and getting better every day and learning from these older guys in front of me.”

Contact Eduardo A. Encina at Follow @EddieInTheYard.


  1. Emphasizing the role of Cameron Brate, who scored against Carolina last week, should just be one change the Bucs coaching staff should consider. ALASTAIR GRANT  |  AP
    Bruce Arians and his staff need to consider making some changes during the bye week to save a 2-4 season
  2. Tampa Bay Lightning center Alex Killorn (17) and right wing Luke Witkowski (28) celebrate with goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) after the Lightning defeated the Boston Bruins 4-3 in a shootout in an NHL hockey game Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola) ELISE AMENDOLA  |  AP
    Sports Day Tampa Bay: There was bad news Thursday in the Tampa Bay penalty box, for USF’s Blake Barnett, for the Yankees and the NFL’s reigning MVP.
  3. Teddy Bridgewater (5)  will look to stay unbeaten as Drew Brees' fill-in when the Saints play the Chicago Bears Sunday at Soldier Field. PHELAN M. EBENHACK  |  AP
    Here are our picks for this week’s NFL games.
  4. San Francisco 49ers GM John Lynch, a former Bucs player and Ring of Honor member, celebrates with 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman (25) after Sherman broke up a pass during the 49ers' 31-17 victory over Tampa Bay at Raymond James Stadium on Sept. 8, 2019 in Tampa. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    After two seasons of second-guessing, general manager John Lynch has it going with the 5-0 49ers. | Martin Fennelly
  5. The Tampa Bay Vipers kick off their inaugural season in February. XFL
    The Vipers’ initial 71-man roster features numerous players who have ties to Tampa Bay. Plus, why coach Marc Trestman drafted big receivers and why 77-year-old defensive coordinator Jerry Glanville...
  6. Indianapolis Colts running back Aca'Cedric Ware runs during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Chicago Bears, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy) MICHAEL CONROY  |  AP
    The move comes days after the team went through a series of roster transactions.
  7. Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill will supplant Marcus Mariota as the starter in Tennessee. JACK DEMPSEY  |  AP
    The Bucs chose Jameis Winston over Mariota in 2015. Now both the No. 1 and No. 2 picks from that draft appear to be at a crossroads.
  8. Former NFL running back Warrick Dunn spends time with new homeowner LaToya Reedy and her son, AnTrez, at 918 43rd St. S. SCOTT KEELER  |  Times
    The retired Tampa Bay Buccaneer running back partnered with Habitat for Humanity and others to give a hardworking nursing assistant and her son the home of their dreams.
  9. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Bobo Wilson (85) during the second half of a preseason game against the Browns on Aug. 23. MARK LOMOGLIO  |  AP
    Wilson muffed two punts Sunday vs. Carolina, losing one. The team also released LB Devante Bond.
  10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate (84) celebrates with quarterback Jameis Winston (3) after making a touchdown catch against the Carolina Panthers during the fourth quarter in London. ALASTAIR GRANT  |  AP
    Journal: Also, the 2015 NFL draft is looking like a bust for quarterbacks. Could the Bucs have taken someone else at No. 1 overall?