As we pass the first of the two mandated NFL cut down days, we quickly make our way to the second, most significant one: the cut from 75 to 53 man rosters. What this means is an average of ~ 700 athletes will lose their roster spots – their jobs as of right now, in the next few days.
Of course teams will scuttle and scurry to add here, subtract there in an effort to get the most attractive final roster to begin this 2012 season. The Bucs certainly have some intriguing decisions to make.
With the significant loss of Davin Joseph the Bucs will have to decide if Ted Larsen is their man to move into the regular season with at RG. Certainly he is Mr. Right Now. It’s almost a certainty however that they’ll add a player or two at that position before final cuts are made.
As usual there will be some surprise cuts. The WR spot will likely be one where we’ll see this. Whether it’s Preston Parker, Sammie Stroughter or perhaps even Arrelious Benn, not all receivers currently on the roster will make the squad. Only Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams seem to have solidified a spot. Tiquan Underwood has made a good case for a roster spot. Benn hasn’t shown much due to injury and aside from Dominik, he has no history with this staff.
Another crowded spot is the secondary. While Ahmad Black seems to have made a good case for a spot as a reserve safety or a nickel or dime back, Cody Grimm might have a hard time doing the same. Local star Leonard Johnson made some noise this preseason but was it enough?
And what of the ever concerning defensive line?
With Clayborn and McCoy tweaking themselves (though both should be fine by week 1), Okoye still nursing a sore knee, Gibson just getting healthy and of course Bowers done for the majority of the year, depth (much less starters) remains a huge concern. One very interesting name to keep an eye on is Darryl Tapp from the Eagles. I’ve liked Tapp ever since he was at Virginia Tech; he’s a high effort, high motor player, just the kind of player Schiano and company are looking for. There is talk that he may become expendable.
There will also be surprise inclusions. The most obvious of these might be 7th round draft pick Michael Smith. Of course they could opt to try to sneak him past the waiver wire in an effort to sign him to the practice squad but he may have shown too much in the preseason so that may be a risky move. The aforementioned Underwood might not be too much of a surprise.
At defensive end, does George Johnson make the final roster? He has been active every opportunity he’s had, most recently in relief of Adrian Clayborn against the Patriots last Friday.
Regardless, much like draft day cut down day can be incredibly stressful for some fringe players as they await word from the dreaded Turk. Or more likely fear the call, wishing instead for a quiet night and a friendly, silent coaching staff.