For the second time in two days, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have signed a defensive end to their practice squad. This time it was former Detroit Lion and Carolina Panther Larry Webster, with fullback Austin Johnson released from that squad to make room. On Monday, the Buccaneers signed defensive end Patrick O'Connor, filling a practice squad vacancy created by last week's promotion of safety Isaiah Johnson.
The import of a pair of ends, even if only on the practice squad at this point, makes sense based on recent moves and injuries. Last week, the Buccaneers released defensive end Jacquies Smith. Subsequent to that, in Thursday night's game against New England, Ryan Russell suffered a shoulder injury. The Buccaneers will not have an official injury report for this week until Wednesday, but if Russell misses time the team will be a little short in its end rotation, at least on the practice field.
Webster first entered the NFL as a fourth-round draft pick of the Lions in 2014 after playing his college ball at Bloomsburg, a Division II school in Pennsylvania. He was on the active roster for his entire rookie season but inactive for each game. Webster then spent the 2015 campaign on Detroit's practice squad before signing a reserve/futures contract with the Panthers in January of 2016. He started that year on Carolina's practice squad but was twice promoted to the active roster, appearing in one game and recording one tackle. He went back to training camp with the Panthers again this year but was waived in the league-wide final cuts in September.
Webster's father, Larry Webster Jr., played 11 years in the NFL (1992-2002) as a defensive lineman for the Dolphins, Browns/Ravens, and Jets.
Johnson first came to the Buccaneers as a practice squad addition late last year after he had spent two seasons in New Orleans. He was promoted to the active roster and saw action on special teams in the 2016 season finale before heading back to camp with the Buccaneers this summer. He was waived in the final cuts and added to the practice squad to start the year.