When John McCargo arrived in Tampa on August 20, it was with the hope of making a fresh start to his NFL career.
"It's exciting to have another opportunity to play this game," he said at the time. "It's just exciting to be on a team, to come out here and work hard and try to make the squad."
As it turned out, McCargo had to wait a few extra months to achieve that goal, but as of Week 10 of the 2011 season he was a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs re-signed the former Buffalo Bill to their 53-man roster on Tuesday, addressing a depth issue at defensive line after second-year starter Gerald McCoy landed on injured reserve the day before.
The Bucs also announced two new additions to the eight-man practice squad on Tuesday, signing running back Nic Grigsby and defensive tackle Swanson Miller.
McCargo became an unrestricted free agent in July when the NFL's new CBA was ratified and he did not re-sign in Buffalo after spending his first five seasons with the Bills. Originally the 26th overall draft pick in 2006, McCargo played in 40 games with Buffalo and recorded 47 tackles, 2.5 sacks, one forced fumble and five passes defensed.
The former North Carolina State standout joined the Buccaneers in time to see action in the team's final two preseason contests, including a start in the finale at Washington. In those two games, McCargo contributed seven tackles, one sack and one forced fumble. Tampa Bay's coaching staff was impressed with the sixth-year lineman's play during that short stint but wasn't able to find a spot for him on the regular-season roster when the final cuts occurred on September 4.
McCargo's rookie campaign and third NFL season in Buffalo were cut short by injuries, but he had his most productive season in 2007, playing in all 16 games and recording 29 tackles, 2.5 sacks and four passes defensed. He was active for just one game in 2010 when the Bills switched from a 4-3 defensive front to a 3-4 under new defensive coordinator George Edwards. During his original stint with the Buccaneers, McCargo said he felt more comfortable as a defensive tackle in a 4-3 front, such as the one Tampa Bay uses for the majority of its plays.
McCargo gives the Bucs four defensive tackles, joining Brian Price, Roy Miller and Frank Okam. Price is likely to move from the starting nose tackle spot to the three-technique position that McCoy had manned before his injury. That will elevate Miller, who started all 16 games at nose tackle in 2010, back to the starting four, with Okam and McCargo providing depth. The team also feels comfortable occasionally using defensive ends Michael Bennett, George Johnson and Da'Quan Bowers inside.
Grigsby (5-11, 199) first entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Arizona with the Miami Dolphins this past July. He played in all four of Miami's preseason games and ran 18 times for 38 yards, adding three receptions for 22 yards.
Grigsby saw action in 46 games with 33 starts during his four years at Arizona, rushing 572 times for 2,957 yards and 28 touchdowns. As a senior, he played in 12 games, started five and ran 118 times for 533 yards and eight scores. The California native averaged 7.2 yards per carry as a junior, scored 13 touchdowns as a sophomore and earned All-America honorable mention from The Sporting News as a freshman starter in 2007. Born in Long Beach, the 22-year-old Grigsby played his high school ball in Santa Fe Springs and Whittier.
Miller (6-4, 310) originally signed with the Cleveland Browns as an undrafted free agent out of Oklahoma State in April of 2010. He was waived during the final roster cuts that September but eventually signed with the New Orleans Saints' practice squad in December. The Saints re-signed Miller for the 2011 season in January and he once again ended up on the team's practice squad to start this season. He was waived and re-signed several times during September and October, most recently leaving the Saints on October 26.
Miller played two seasons at Oklahoma State after transferring from Butler County (KS) Community College. He appeared in 26 games with the Cowboys and recorded 41 tackles, three sacks, six tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and two passes defensed. Most of his statistics, including all three of his sacks, were racked up during a strong senior season, during which he helped hold OSU opponents to 3.0 yards per rush. Born in Gainesville, the 25-year-old Miller played his prep football at Santa Fe High School in Alachua, Florida.