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Bucs journal: Leonard Wester solidifies backup tackle role

Receiver Donteea Dye comes close to a touchdown catch against the Browns, but it was ruled he didn’t get both feet inbounds. “I got robbed,” joked Dye, who returned from an ankle injury.
Receiver Donteea Dye comes close to a touchdown catch against the Browns, but it was ruled he didn’t get both feet inbounds. “I got robbed,” joked Dye, who returned from an ankle injury.
Published Aug. 28, 2017

TAMPA — Injuries pressed Bucs T Leonard Wester into a starting role Saturday night against the Browns. He played all 46 snaps with the first-team offense and solidified his position as a backup on the 53-man roster.

"I felt like it went well overall. Coach (Dirk Koetter) thought I played a solid game," he said. "Definitely a couple of things I need to clean up. … I knew what to expect, knew how to prepare to start and all that."

Starting RT Demar Dotson was sidelined with a groin injury, and Wester said he knew Thursday night during the team's walkthrough that he was starting after it was clear that LG Kevin Pamphile, who had gotten a look at right tackle last week, would also be sidelined. Wester made the team last year as an undrafted rookie but dressed for only four games. So it was vital for him to instill confidence in his coaches that he could handle a backup role again this year.

"I'm not worried about if I'm on the team or not," he said. "I'm just trying to make the most of my opportunities, and I felt like I did that. There's obviously stuff you can always work on, but it's important that they trust me to be that guy."

Koetter said Wester learned a lot from the opportunity to play with the first-string offense.

"That was great experience for him," Koetter said. "For Leonard to get 44 (plays) with the first group, that's invaluable experience."

Welcome back

After 17 days sidelined by an ankle injury, WR Donteea Dye returned to practice Thursday and made a healthy return Saturday against the Browns, just in time to make a case to be the Bucs' fifth receiver.

"I missed it, missed it for a long time. I just wanted to grind with my brothers," Dye said. "Finally getting out there, it was a dream come true all over again."

Dye caught two passes for 18 yards and nearly had the catch of the night. Jameis Winston threw a pass to Dye, who made a leaping catch and appeared to get both feet inbounds but he was ruled out. The Bucs challenged the call, but the ruling was confirmed by review.

"That was definitely a touchdown: two feet in, ball control. I got robbed," Dye joked. "I think they must have heard this was my first game back, so, like, I can't do too much. They're trying to hold me back."

This and that

The Bucs will practice today and Tuesday to prepare for Thursday's preseason finale at home against Washington, with cuts to follow as teams go from 90 players to 53. … Coach Dirk Koetter said WR Adam Humphries (top right) will be all right after suffering a hip pointer Saturday against the Browns. … Koetter said DE Jacquies Smith (bottom right), who has missed training camp recovering from a knee procedure, began running last week. … The Bucs haven't had an offensive play of 30 yards or longer in the preseason. The only other teams without one are the Bills and Lions.

Contact Greg Auman at gauman@tampabay.com and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.

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