- The Bucs had two weeks to evaluate RB Jeff Demps on the practice field before making a roster decision
- Demps, a silver-medalist in track in the 2012 U.S. Olympics, brings world-class speed to the NFL
- TE Luke Stocker has landed on injured reserve due to a hip injury
The two-week exemption the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had to evaluate Jeff Demps ended on Monday afternoon and, as was wisely expected, the team chose to activate the running back/kick returner to their 53-man roster.
That required a companion move to keep the roster at the limit, but unfortunately a spot for Demps was readily available thanks to tight end Luke Stocker's hip injury. Anticipating a long absence for Stocker, the team placed the third-year tight end on injured reserve, bringing his 2013 season to an end. Stocker had played in the first two games of the season but missed Sunday's contest in New England after sustaining the injury the previous weekend.
The Buccaneers acquired Demps as part of a draft-weekend trade in April that sent running back LeGarrette Blount to New England in exchange for a seventh-round pick and are obviously enamored of his speed. A dual football and track star at the University of Florida, Demps won a silver medal in the 2012 Summer Olympics as part of the United States' 4x100-meter relay team. Though second-year WR Eric Page has performed well as the team's punt and kickoff return man, Demps could figure into the return game and/or as a weapon out of the backfield on offense. Head Coach Greg Schiano said last week that Demps is "probably the fastest player in the NFL right now."
At Florida, the 5-8, 191-pound Demps played in 51 games on the Gator football team with 27 starts and racked up 3,592 all-purpose yards. After finishing his collegiate career in 2011 he chose to focus on his Olympic pursuits rather than attend the NFL Scouting Combine in the spring of 2012. Still, several teams showed interest in signing him during the 2012 offseason, and he eventually landed with the Patriots, where he spent his rookie season on injured reserve.
- RB Jeff Demps had 3,592 career all-purpose yards at the University of Florida
The loss of Stocker leaves the Bucs with four tight ends on the 53-man roster after second-year man Danny Noble was promoted from the practice squad on Saturday. The Buccaneers had envisioned something of a committee approach at the top of the TE depth chart with Luke Stocker and 2013 offseason addition Tom Crabtree combining forces; however, Crabtree hasn't played yet due to an ankle injury suffered in the preseason, and he won't find Stocker on the field when he returns.
Tampa Bay's tight ends have combined for four catches for 44 yards through the first three games, but Crabtree's eventual return could add a spark. He averaged nearly 24 yards per catch during the preseason after putting up a 25.4-yard average on eight receptions for the Green Bay Packers last year. And, if his world-class speed proves functional on an NFL playing field, Demps could provide the Bucs' offense with a much-needed boost, as well.