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As Graham Heads to IR, Bucs Sign Herron

After losing starting tailback Earnest Graham to an ankle injury, the Bucs added depth to their backfield by signing former Packer back Noah Herron…Also, Matt McCoy returns as rookie LB Geno Hayes also lands on injured reserve


Former Green Bay RB Noah Herron was used extensively as a third-down back by the Packers in 2005-06

Tampa Bay's 19-13 win over Minnesota on Sunday cost the Buccaneers two players.

Running back Earnest Graham sustained an ankle injury on his first carry of the game and rookie linebacker Geno Hayes hurt his knee covering a fourth-quarter kickoff. As expected, both players were placed on injured reserve on Wednesday, bringing their 2008 seasons to a close.

The Buccaneers filled their 53-man roster back out with one familiar face and one newcomer. Fourth-year veteran linebacker Matt McCoy, who was released by Tampa Bay on October 18, was re-signed to the active roster to replace Hayes. And to restore some depth to the offensive backfield, the Buccaneers inked running back Noah Herron, a former standout at Northwestern University and reserve with the Green Bay Packers.

The 5-11, 225-pound Herron spent the 2007 season on injured reserve after sustaining a knee injury in the preseason finale. In 2006, however, he was used extensively as a third-down back, appearing in all 16 games and carrying 37 times for 150 yards and a touchdown. Herron also added 29 receptions for 211 yards and two more scores and was a special teams asset on both kickoff returns and kickoff coverage.

Herron originally entered the NFL as a seventh-round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2005. He made the team and appeared in the first two games of the year but was then moved to the Steelers' practice squad. The Packers later signed Herron off that squad to their active roster and played him in their last five games. He ran 45 times for 121 yards during that late-season cameo and scored his first career touchdown against Chicago on Christmas Day.

In the Packers' 2005 season finale, Herron got the majority of the playing time in Green Bay's backfield and responded with 23 carries for 61 yards and a touchdown in a 23-17 win over the Super Bowl-bound Seattle Seahawks.

The Steelers drafted Herron after he earned Big Ten "Back of the Year' honors from the Chicago Tribune as a senior in 2004 on the strength of his 1,381 yards and 14 touchdowns. He finished his Wildcat career fifth in school history with 2,524 rushing and 3,536 all-purpose yards. The 26-year-old Herron was born in Milwaukee and played his high school ball in Mattawan, Michigan.

McCoy (6-0, 235) played in three of the Bucs' first six games before his release. He appeared primarily on special teams but did see some action on defense in the season opener at New Orleans, contributing one tackle. On special teams, McCoy had four kick-coverage stops in his three games played.

Prior to signing with Tampa Bay as a free agent last March, McCoy played two-and-a-half seasons with Philadelphia and then finished up the 2007 campaign in New Orleans. He started 10 games at weakside linebacker for the Eagles in 2006 and recorded 81 tackles, two sacks, three forced fumbles and two passes defensed. He also rang up 36 kick-coverage stops in just 30 games from 2005-07. With the Buccaneers in training camp, he primarily worked at middle linebacker but might be utilized on the outside in his return given the loss of Hayes.

Hayes had been listed second on the Bucs' depth chart at weakside linebacker behind Derrick Brooks. He, too, played primarily on special teams over the course of nine games, ranking fourth on the team with seven kick-coverage stops. Hayes also sparked the Buccaneers' 27-3 rout of Carolina in October by blocking a punt and then returning the loose ball for a touchdown.

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