Shortly after announcing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' roster cut to 53 players on Saturday, General Manager Mark Dominik convened his staff for a quick dinner, and then the whole crew immediately went back to work. The issue at hand: the NFL's post-cuts waiver wire.
On Sunday, the Buccaneers were awarded two players they claimed off of that wire: center/guard Ted Larson and running back Kregg Lumpkin. To make room for those two players on the roster, the Buccaneers released rookie tackle Derek Hardman and third-year running back Clifton Smith.
The New England Patriots drafted Larsen, a Florida native from Palm Harbor, in the sixth round of the 2010 draft. At North Carolina State, the 6-2, 305-pound lineman appeared in 43 games with 30 starts, making the transition from defensive tackle to the offensive line before his junior season. Larsen was named second-team All-ACC last fall by the NFL Draft Report.
Lumpkin (5-11, 228) was released on Saturday at the end of his third training camp with the Green Bay Packers. Originally signed out of the University of Georgia as an undrafted free agent in 2008, Lumpkin made the Packers' 53-man roster as a rookie after an outstanding preseason in which he led the team with 153 yards and a touchdown on 38 carries and added 59 yards and another score on seven receptions. He then appeared in two games early in the regular season, gaining 19 yards on his only carry and picking up 22 yards on three receptions.
Last year, Lumpkin spent the entire season on the Packers' practice squad before being re-signed for 2010 in January. At Georgia, he rushed for 1,699 yards and 14 touchdowns on 352 carries, averaging 4.8 yards per tote.
The extra work put in by the Buccaneers' player personnel department on Saturday night was part of the team's ongoing effort to improve the depth at every spot on the roster. The same approach produced lasting results in the early weeks of the 2009 season. The Buccaneers signed defensive end Tim Crowder and safety Corey Lynch last September, then added defensive end Michael Bennett in early October. All three are still with the team.
"Last year we had a chance in the early part of the season to grab Tim Crowder and at one point we grabbed Michael Bennett," said Dominik. "We grabbed guys that made this football team this year. We're going to continue to look at our football team this year as well.
"We're going to keep all options open to make sure we get the best 53 players for this football team at all times."
The Buccaneers also began the construction of their eight-man practice squad for the season, bringing back three players they had released on Saturday: safety Vince Anderson, defensive end George Johnson and tight end Ryan Purvis. The team can hold up to eight players on its practice squad and will likely fill out the unit before the first full practice of the week on Monday.