- TSecond-year TE Danny Noble, who split his rookie season between the active roster and IR, is back on the 53-man squad
- To make room for Noble on the roster, the team released RB Peyton Hillis but still has solid depth at running back
- Noble will give the Bucs three healthy tight ends on Sunday with Tom Crabtree and Luke Stocker out
Tight end Danny Noble started the 2012 season on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ active roster, beating the odds as an undrafted free agent out of Toledo. It took a few weeks longer in 2013, but Noble is back among the Buccaneers’ active 53.
On Saturday, after arriving in Boston in advance of Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots, the Buccaneers announced that they have promoted Noble from the practice squad. To make room on the 53-man roster, the team released veteran running back Peyton Hillis.
At least part of the motivation for Noble’s promotion can be seen in the list of players who did not accompany the Buccaneers on their Saturday flight: tight ends Luke Stocker and Tom Crabtree, cornerback Michael Adams, tackle Gabe Carimi and defensive tackle Derek Landri. With Stocker and Crabtree unavailable on Sunday due to injuries, the Buccaneers would have been down to two healthy tight ends in Nate Byham and Tim Wright. Wright, like Noble a year ago, is an undrafted rookie who made the team with a strong camp even after converting to the tight end position from wide receiver.
Last season, the 6-5, 248-pound Noble saw action in the Buccaneers’ first four games and was inactive for three more before ending up on injured reserve with a hamstring injury for the remainder of the season. He played primarily on special teams but did not record a reception. At Toledo, Noble played in 50 games with 37 starts and racked up 48 receptions for 555 yards and seven touchdowns.
- TE Danny Noble made the roster last year as an undrafted free agent
The release of Hillis was a move made of roster depth at the running back position. Starter Doug Martin has handled all but one of the Bucs’ carries through the first two weeks and is ably backed up by both veteran Brian Leonard and rookie Mike James. Both Leonard and James have the versatility to play a variety of roles on offense and are also assets on special teams. Hillis was active but did not play in the season-opening game at the New York Jets and then was one of seven game-day inactives last week against New Orleans. The Buccaneers signed Hillis, who previously played for Detroit, Cleveland and Kansas City, just before the start of training camp.
Teams are required to notify the NFL and the opposing team when any of their players do not make the trip to a road game. Adams (knee), Carimi (illness) and Landri (knee) had already been ruled out for the Patriots game, and Crabtree has yet to play during the regular season due to the ankle injury he suffered at the end of the preseason. Stocker was limited in practice throughout the week due to a hip ailment but had started the first two games of the season.