P Josh Bidwell's trip to injured reserve will end a streak of 144 consecutive games played since 2000
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed fourth-year wide receiver Marcus Maxwell on Monday as the final week of training camp began.
No player had to be released to make room for Maxwell on the 80-man camp roster because, unfortunately, a spot came open on Monday morning. In a development the Buccaneers had hoped would not be necessary, veteran punter Josh Bidwell has been placed on injured reserve.
Bidwell was forced to IR, ending his 2009 season, by a hip ailment that flared up last week. The Buccaneers ordered a battery of tests over the weekend, and they confirmed that Bidwell will need surgery to repair the injury. He expects to be back at full strength in 2010.
Prior to last week's flare-up, Bidwell was preparing for his 11th season in the NFL and his sixth with the Buccaneers. After spending his 1999 rookie season on the reserve/non-football illness due to testicular cancer, Bidwell played four seasons in Green Bay and five in Tampa Bay, never missing a game. He had appeared in 144 consecutive games heading into 2009 and amassed over 31,000 punting yards.
The Buccaneers signed veteran punter Dirk Johnson last week to fill in for Bidwell for at least the weekend, and now potentially longer. Johnson punted five times against the Tennessee Titans, averaging 41.4 yards per kick, dropping two punts inside the 20 with no touchbacks and compiling strong net average of 39.0 yards per attempt.
Following a 2005 season in which he averaged a career-best 45.6 yards per punt, Bidwell became the first punter in franchise history to be selected for the Pro Bowl. He is the Buccaneers' all-time leader in punts (419), punting yards (18,426), punting average (44.0) and punts inside the 20 (124). Including his four Green Bay seasons, Bidwell has punted 727 times for 31,085 yards, recording a gross average of 42.8 yards per kick and a net of 36.5 and dropping 209 punts inside the 20 against 72 touchbacks.
Maxwell has appeared on rosters for San Francisco, Cincinnati and Baltimore since he was drafted in the seventh round (223rd overall) by the 49ers in 2005. He also spent the 2007 NFL Europa season with the Hamburg Sea Devils, who won the final World Bowl before the league was discontinued.
The 6-3, 210-pound Maxwell has played in nine games, four with the 49ers as a rookie in 2005 and five in 2007 with the Bengals, for whom he tallied his lone regular-season reception. In between, he spent most of the 2006 season on San Francisco's practice squad. He also was on the Ravens' roster for the final seven weeks of the 2008 regular season, though he did not appear in a game.
Maxwell played two seasons at the University of Oregon, coincidentally Josh Bidwell's alma mater, too. After transferring to Oregon from Diablo Valley (CA) Junior College, Maxwell appeared in 18 games for the Ducks and caught 36 passes for 401 yards and two touchdowns. He hails from Hercules, California.
The Buccaneers' receiver ranks have been thrilled recently at training camp by injuries to Antonio Bryant, Michael Clayton, Kelly Campbell and Joel Filani. Second-year wideout Dexter Jackson also suffered an ankle injury against Tennessee and could miss practice time this week, though Clayton is expected to return from his hamstring injury. Maxwell was not in a camp after having been released by the Ravens on May 18.