As much as Buccaneers fans have fallen in love with the “Hard Knocks” darling Riley Bullough, he won’t be making the 53-man roster when all is said and done.
Yes, he’s the darling of “Hard Knocks”. Yes, we all love his attitude and leadership – even Dirk Koetter pointed it out in a meeting in front of the entire team. Yes, he’s a high-energy, profanity spewing psycho wearing number 49. But no, Riley Bullough will not make the Buccaneers’ final roster.
At the end of the day, he just hasn’t done enough to separate himself among a crowded position group. We even witnessed Mike Smith on the last episode of “Hard Knocks” up in the booth say “This is why he won’t make…”
Now, what do you think the end of that sentence is?
Another thing Smith pointed out in front of the cameras was that Bullough never makes the impact play. Yet another thing he’s missing when it comes to setting himself apart from the group. We’ve seen coaches rave about his leadership and personality, but at the end of the day if you can’t bring something nobody else can, you’re not going to have a job.
I’d like to say Bullough will be the perfect guy to slip on to the practice squad and if this was any other season, he would. However, given the additional spotlight from HBO, it’s going to be real tough to slip him on there. The Bucs couldn’t hide him the way they’ve hidden players before during training camp. Now, guys like Bullough are put on display for the world – and other NFL teams – to see every single week.
He’s going to have one more shot – much like Jeremy McNichols – to prove he belongs on this roster as the Buccaneers prepare to take on the Redskins in their final preseason game. The starters won’t play so Bullough will see plenty of action Thursday night in a liast ditch effort to prove he is indeed a playmaker, not just a guy with a loud voice who can make tackles.
I’m hoping for the best with Riley. The off chance he makes it to the practice squad and can get a little more time, the better. I’d hate for the Bucs to lose a guy with his tenacity, his passion, and his all approach to playing linebacker. His balance of appearing crazy and chaotic from the outside while firing up the team and knowing what to call out, ensuring the defense gets a stop, is incredible to witness from an undrafted free agent.
Unfortunately, when the smoke clears, it doesn’t look like there will be a place for him on the Buccaneers. He will be picked up by another team, causing the Bucs to lose him altogether which will disappoint a lot of fans, the coaches, and the players.
Man, I hope I’m wrong.