DE Patrick Chukwurah played in nine games for the Buccaneers last year
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost a safety on Sunday in Atlanta. On Wednesday, they responded by adding a linebacker and a defensive end.
Seventh-year man Jermaine Phillips, the team's starting strong safety, has been placed on injured reserve due to the broken arm he suffered on Sunday against the Falcons. That and the release of running back Noah Herron opened two spots on the Bucs' 53-man roster, and the team used them to shore up a defense suddenly dotted with injury issues.
To add depth to a defensive line that has health concerns surrounding Chris Hovan, Jovan Haye, Gaines Adams and Greg White, the Buccaneers re-signed defensive end Patrick Chukwurah, who spent all of last season in Tampa. The other spot went to third-year linebacker Rod Wilson, a former Chicago Bear who played 28 games over the last two seasons.
Both Chukwurah (6-1, 250) and Wilson (6-2, 230) have also been strong special teams players during their careers and should help the Buccaneers overcome depth issues in that area as well.
The Bucs also made a switch on the practice squad Wednesday, signing rookie running back Omar Cuff and releasing defensive tackle Chris Bradwell.
Chukwurah was released by the Buccaneers just before training camp this year but has now been re-signed twice. He originally returned on August 30 and played in the preseason finale at Houston but was released again in the final cut-down to the 53-man roster. He first joined the Buccaneers as an unrestricted free agent in March of 2007.
Last year, Chukwurah appeared in nine games for Tampa Bay, plus the postseason contest against the Giants, and contributed 16 tackles, one sack and one fumble recovery. He also recorded 10 stops on special teams. He split the previous six seasons before coming to Tampa (2001-06) between Minnesota and Denver, appearing in 69 games and totaling 49 tackles, eight sacks and 43 kick-coverage tackles.
Chukwurah entered the league in 2001 as a fifth-round pick of the Vikings. His most productive season came in 2006 with the Broncos, when he played in 14 games and set a career high with 4.5 sacks.
Wilson was a seventh-round pick by the Bears in 2005. A versatile athlete, he played four different positions as a collegian at South Carolina, beginning at quarterback as a true freshman. He played wide receiver as a redshirt freshman then switched to defense for his last three seasons. After playing safety as a sophomore and junior he emerged as an All-SEC linebacker in his 2004 senior campaign.
Wilson lost his rookie season in Chicago to a preseason knee injury and began his second year on the practice squad before getting a quick promotion. He played in the final 13 games of the 2006 season and recorded 10 defensive tackles and 14 stops on special teams. In 2007, he finished third on the team with 16 kick-coverage stops. Wilson was released by Chicago at the end of the 2008 preseason.
Phillips, one of the Buccaneers' most effective defenders over the past two seasons, saw his 2008 campaign come to a premature end in Atlanta on Sunday when he suffered his second arm fracture of the season. He missed three games due to a left arm injury earlier in the year and was the victim of a right arm break on Sunday. Before the second mishap, Phillips had 86 tackles, three interceptions, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and six passes defensed. He will be replaced in the starting lineup by second-year man Sabby Piscitelli, who has played extensively this season and has 47 tackles and an interception of his own.
Herron was signed on November 19 after running back Earnest Graham was placed on injured reserve but has been inactive for each of the four games since.
Cuff (5-10, 195) entered the league this past spring as an undrafted free agent with the Tennessee Titans and has also had stops in Cleveland and Kansas City. At Delaware, he played in 41 games and racked up 4,364 yards and 65 touchdowns on the ground while also catching 129 passes for 1,256 yards and eight more scores. He was a consensus All-America choice as a senior after rushing for 1,945 yards and an incredible 35 touchdowns in 15 games.
Bradwell signed with the Buccaneers in May as an undrafted rookie out of Troy. He went to training camp with the team, was released on August 30 and then returned to the practice squad on December 3.