Heading into the final week of the preseason, the Buccaneers have a big problem. It's a good one, though.
The team is loaded at tight end, with two players – Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard – capable of starting for many clubs in the league. Luke Stocker is a proven veteran who thrives in the run game and Alan Cross is a sure-handed, multi-dimensional player who flashed during his rookie season. Tevin Westbrook has NFL experience, too.
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So where does undrafted rookie tight end Antony Auclair fit in? Auclair was good enough that the Buccaneers considered using a draft pick on him, but didn't have to after Howard fell into their laps at No. 19. Shortly after the end of the draft, Tampa Bay signed Auclair as a free agent.
Since arriving in Tampa, Auclair has been impressive. The Canadian tight end is particularly strong in the passing game, rarely dropping passes and running smooth routes. If there is one caveat to Auclair's game, it's his ability to perform in the running game.
With just one game to go until the Buccaneers announce their 53-man roster, Auclair knows that he'll have to prove he's a capable blocker to land a spot on the Bucs' gameday roster.
"I think I still have to prove a lot," Auclair said. "I have to get better and correct the mistakes that I've made earlier (in camp). I have to work on some details on (my) run blocks, like angles on cutoffs and stuff like that."
It's not unusual for an undrafted free agent to carve out a significant role for an NFL team. Auclair can look around the Buccaneers' locker room to find evidence. Adam Humphries made the Bucs' roster as a tryout player and has blossomed into a reliable slot receiver. Brate himself was undrafted out of college.
Auclair has a realistic chance to make the Bucs' final roster and could find himself on the practice squad if he doesn't, as long as he clears waivers. We'll know whether or not he makes the cut this weekend when the Buccaneers formally unveil their final roster.
"It would mean a lot, especially for me coming from Canada," Auclair said. "It's been hard to learn a new game and I'm still learning to this day. It would mean a lot."