Dominique Harris toiled for 15 solid weeks on the Buffalo Bills' practice squad this fall before finally getting a promotion to an active NFL roster. It just didn't happen to be in Buffalo.
On Tuesday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed Harris, a rookie safety out of Temple, off Buffalo's practice squad to their own 53-man roster. All players on NFL practice squads remain eligible to sign with other teams as long as they are signing to the active roster. To make room for Harris, the Buccaneers waived first-year safety Vince Anderson.
The Buccaneers used the same method to nab Harris that earlier this season netted them defensive tackle Al Woods and safety Larry Asante. Woods and Asante had been on the practice squads in Pittsburgh and Cleveland, respectively, before the Bucs came calling.
The 6-2, 213-pound Harris originally entered the league as an undrafted free agent with Buffalo in April 28. At Temple he was as a team captain in 2008 and 2009, starting 44 career games and recording nine interceptions and 277 tackles. He also earned All-Mid-American Conference honors twice and was the recipient of The Owl Award in 2009, as the school's most valuable player.
Harris had a productive preseason with the Bills, notching 11 tackles, one sack and one fumble recovery. He was waived in the final roster cutdown before the start of the regular season and then immediately added to Buffalo's practice squad.
Similar to Harris, Anderson had been on the Buccaneers' practice squad for the first 12 weeks of the 2010 season before joining the active roster on November 30 and seeing action in the last three games. He made a quick impact on special teams, notching three kick-coverage stops in those three outings.
Anderson originally entered the league with the N.Y. Giants as an undrafted free agent in 2009 and spent the 2009 season on the Giants practice squad before being waived on June 21, 2010.
Adding Harris to what is already the NFL's youngest roster in 2010 gives Tampa Bay 18 rookies among their 53 players. Another 20 have two years of playing experience or fewer. This past Sunday, the Buccaneers became the first team since the 2004 Tennessee Titans to give at least one start to 10 different rookies.
While Tampa Bay has enjoyed a huge initial impact from its 2010 draft class – Gerald McCoy, Mike Williams, Cody Grimm and several others – they have also actively pursued other players of interest from what was considered the most talented pool of draft-eligible players in years. Thirteen of the 18 rookies currently on the active roster were signed by the Buccaneers after the draft, including 10 since the end of the preseason: Harris, Asante, Woods, punter Robert Malone, running back LeGarrette Blount, guard Brandon Carter, tackle Will Barker, guard Ted Larsen, tight end Nathan Overbay and wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe.