Bucs put DaVonte Lambert, Stevie Tu'ikolovatu on injured reserve

Stevie Tu'ikolovatu will go on injured reserve after injuring the MCL and meniscus in his right knee. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
Stevie Tu'ikolovatu will go on injured reserve after injuring the MCL and meniscus in his right knee. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
Published Sept. 1, 2017

Beginning the process of trimming their roster from 90 to 53 players, the Bucs announced four moves, with an additional eight confirmed by the Times.

The team announced that two backup defensive linemen — DaVonte Lambert and rookie Stevie Tu'ikolovatu —will go on injured reserve with season-ending injuries. Lambert, a second-year pro, dislocated his wrist Saturday, while Tu'ikolovatu, the team's seventh-round pick in April, injured the MCL and meniscus in his right knee. Both players will remain under contract with the Bucs with a chance to compete for roster spots in 2018.

The Bucs also announced they were releasing DE George Johnson, who was due to make $2.25-million this season as a backup, and long-snapper Andrew DePaola. DePaola was the team's long-snapper the last three seasons, but tore is ACL in January, so the team signed veteran Garrison Sanborn to handle snaps. DePaola played in Thursday's preseason finale and showed himself healthy, which could help him latch on with another team.

The Bucs will announce another 33 moves Saturday, but the Times has confirmed eight players already being waived: WR Shaq Hill, DL Mehdi Abdesmad, OL Josh Allen, TE Tevin Westbrook, LB Richie Browns, CB Mariel Cooper and PK Zach Hocker. QB Sefo Liufau is being waived with a minor knee injury and will negotiate a settlement.

The injuries to Lambert and Tu'ikolovatu impact the Bucs' defensive line depth -- Sealver Siliga is now most likely to be the team's No. 4 defensive tackle, while Lambert's injury, combined with Johnson's release, could put a newcomer like Tavaris Barnes or Sterling Bailey on the roster as a final defensive end.

The deadline for NFL teams to cut from 90 players to 53 is Saturday at 4 p.m., but the Bucs aren't wasting any time, letting players know they've been cut right away this morning.

The biggest name is Johnson, who started last night's game and had two tackles, but has a $2.25-million salary that becomes fully guaranteed if he's on the opening-week roster. It's a move that suggests DE Jacquies Smith, who has missed all of preseason recovering from knee surgery, could be healthy enough to make the opening 53-man roster.

Other players confirmed as waived in the first round of cuts Friday morning:

— WR Shaq Hill, a rookie from Eastern Washington who joined the Bucs in the first week of training camp

— DL Mehdi Abdesmad, who was signed Monday and played well last night, with a fumble recovery and tackle for loss

— OL Josh Allen, the only player to play every offensive snap in last night's game, and a potential signee for the practice squad

— TE Tevin Westbrook, who spent time on the Bucs' practice squad last year but couldn't crack a deep group at tight end

— LB Richie Brown, an undrafted rookie from Mississippi State who played only sparingly in the preseason

— CB Mariel Cooper, a late addition to the roster last week after a rash of injuries at cornerback

— PK Zach Hocker, who hit a 47-yard field goal last night but had little chance to unseat Nick Folk from the kicking job

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