MIAMI — With roster cuts looming and their futures uncertain, four Bucs players — K Kyle Brindza, WR Adam Humphries, S Keith Tandy and LB Khaseem Greene — made emphatic cases Thursday to make the 53-man roster.
"Last preseason game, you want to see a few players step up and make a case that they belong on the football team," coach Lovie Smith said.
Brindza, acquired in a trade from Detroit this week for TE Tim Wright, was given a chance to take the kicking job away from veterans Patrick Murray and Connor Barth, and might've made the loudest statement in the 22-17 win against the Dolphins. At Notre Dame his career long was 53 yards, but Thursday he connected on kicks of 57 and 55. He also consistently sent his kickoffs deep into the end zone, perhaps securing another job.
"I wasn't nervous at all. You've done it in practice, so why can't you do it now?" said Brindza, 5-for-5 on field goals in the preseason, all beyond 40 yards. "My biggest thing today was just go out there and do your job, and let the rest settle itself."
Humphries, a rookie from Clemson, got all the first-half looks on punt returns, taking one for 9 yards, but he made a bigger impact on offense, where he caught a 4-yard touchdown pass from Mike Glennon. At one point, the offense had 75 yards and he had 62 on his four catches.
Humphries' strong showing could push him onto the roster, perhaps at the expense of sixth-round pick Kaelin Clay, who was limited by a rib injury this week. "Going into this game … it could be the last time I'm wearing a Tampa Bay uniform," Humphries said. "I just had to take advantage of the moment, and I felt like I did what I could tonight."
Humphries wasn't the only undrafted rookie receiver making a splash. UCF's Rannell Hall had four catches for 63 yards, and Heidelberg's Donteea Dye had two for 36. Together, the three rookies combined for 10 of the team's 13 catches, and 161 of the team's 163 passing yards.
Veteran S Keith Tandy set up a field goal when he recovered a fumble punt return at the Miami 9-yard line, but he saved his best plays for the final minutes. Twice in the final two minutes, with Miami inside the Tampa Bay 25 and threatening to take the lead, he intercepted passes from former Buc Josh Freeman.
The single biggest play of the game? As Miami threatened to take the lead late in the third quarter, Green dived for an interception, got up untouched and returned it 98 yards down the sidelines for a touchdown and a 22-10 lead. Greene, a former Rutgers and Bears player claimed off waivers in the spring, is in the hunt for the final one or two linebacker jobs, and finished the game with a team-high nine tackles, plus another on special teams.
TWO PICKS: Glennon, who played the entire first half with starter Jameis Winston held out, threw two interceptions in the half, both to CB Will Davis, finishing 11-for-20 for 141 yards, with the TD pass to Humphries. No. 3 QB Seth Lobato took over for the second half but is likely facing a cut.
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INJURIES: Three Bucs left the game with injuries: G Garrett Gilkey (left knee), DE Larry English (left knee) and DE, T.J. Fatinikun (shoulder).