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Tampa Bay Buccaneers' final roster cuts come Friday night

Greg Schiano
Greg Schiano
Published Aug. 31, 2012


TAMPA — When receiver Arrelious Benn and cornerback E.J. Biggers became tangled and injured on the same play during the first day of training camp, it wiped out their entire preseason.


Benn, who sprained a right knee ligament, might be ready for the season opener Sept. 9 against the Panthers. Biggers, who broke his left foot, will not play. But both will be on the 53-man roster when it is turned into the league by 9 tonight.


"E.J. and Regis, we have a lot of tape to go on," Schiano said Thursday. "We also have all our (offseason workouts) and minicamp stuff.


"It's crazy, right? The first practice, both of them, to lose them on the same play. But you've got to move forward."


One day after sitting all of the regulars during a 30-3 loss at the Redskins in the preseason finale, Schiano gave clues about some players who are on the bubble.


Receiver and defensive back are the deepest — and toughest — positions to decide.


Receivers Vincent Jackson, Mike Williams, Preston Parker and Benn are locks. If the Bucs keep only five, that means there might be a decision to make between Sammie Stroughter (two catches for 30 yards on Wednesday) and Tiquan Underwood (six catches for 82 yards and a 32-yard kickoff return).


Despite his stats, Schiano said Stroughter had one of his better preseason games.


"It's a good battle," Schiano said.


There is a logjam at defensive back, particularly at safety behind starters Ronde Barber and first-round pick Mark Barron. Former Florida star Ahmad Black has had a good preseason. Cody Grimm, who has started 12 games over two injury-filled seasons, is facing tough competition from Keith Tandy, a sixth-round pick in April who also can play cornerback.


With Biggers apparently safe, the Bucs might choose among cornerbacks Myron Lewis, Anthony Gaitor and undrafted Iowa State rookie Leonard Johnson, a former Clearwater High quarterback.


The Bucs lack depth on the offensive and defensive lines. A season-ending injury to Pro Bowl guard Davin Joseph was a major blow. Schiano has been tinkering with moving tackle Jamon Meredith to right guard. Meredith and Ted Larsen took reps with the first-team offense there Thursday.


The Bucs traded defensive tackle Brian Price to the Bears on the first day of training camp. But no standouts have emerged behind starters Gerald McCoy and Roy Miller.


One player possibly in trouble is Amobi Okoye, who came over from the Bears for a one-year, $2 million contract. Okoye had arthroscopic knee surgery in June. He played in the first preseason game but not since.


"You can be a little cautious at times," Schiano said. "We've tried to do that. But at the end of the day, you've got to go out and earn a spot."


Rick Stroud can be reached at stroud@tampabay.com and can be heard from 6 to 9 a.m. weekdays on WDAE-620. Follow him on Twitter at @NFLStroud.

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