The Tampa Bay Buccaneers elevated two players from their practice squad to play in their Thursday night season-opener against Dallas, and now both of those players have found a more permanent spot on the 53-man roster.
On Monday, the Buccaneers signed safety Andrew Adams to the active roster from the practice squad. The team had used its two elevation options in Week One on Adams and wide receiver Jaydon Mickens, and Mickens was subsequently promoted to the active roster on Saturday.
However, while Mickens' promotion was prompted by his strong work in the return game against the Cowboys, the call-up for Adams comes with some bad news attached. The spot he filled on the 53-man roster was created by the move of starting cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting to injured reserve.
In addition, a hand injury suffered by long-snapper Zach Triner in the season opener has forced the team to make a change at that position, as well. Triner has been placed on injured reserve and the team has signed former Jaguars long-snapper Carson Tinker to the active roster.
Finally, the Buccaneers added secondary depth on Monday by signing eighth-year cornerback Pierre Desir and first-year safety Chris Cooper to their practice squad.
Murphy-Bunting suffered a dislocated elbow in the first quarter of the Buccaneers' 31-29 win over the Cowboys. X-rays performed at the stadium came back negative, leaving the team in wait-and-see mode regarding the amount of time he would miss due to the injury. After further testing, the decisions was made to place Murphy-Bunting on I.R., which means he will miss a minimum of three games before being eligible to return to the active roster.
Murphy-Bunting played in all 20 games in 2020, including the playoffs, making 17 starts and recording 66 tackes, one interception and three passes defensed. He then led the team in the postseason with three interceptions and five passes defensed, becoming the first player in team history to pick off a pass in three consecutive playoff games.
The promotion of Adams gives the Bucs more flexibility in the secondary as they adjust in Murphy-Bunting's absence and wait for the return of starting safety Jordan Whitehead from a hamstring injury. Head Coach Bruce Arians indicated on Friday that Whitehead is "about 90 percent" in his recovery and that he was hopeful the fourth-year defender could play against Atlanta in Week Two. With Adams and possibly Whitehead available at safety, the Bucs can let Ross Cockrell focus on playing in the slot while Murphy-Bunting is out. A cornerback by trade who filled in well for the Buccaneers last year, Cockrell learned the safety position during training camp and was also impressive in that role.
Adams is in his fourth season with the Buccaneers, though he actually departed for Philadelphia in free agency this past offseason. When the Eagles released Adams in the roster cutdown to 53, the Buccaneers initially brought him back to the practice squad. He played 11 snaps on defense after being elevated for the Dallas game, filling in while safety Mike Edwards was sidelined by cramps, and made a key third-down tackle near the end zone to force the Cowboys to settle for a field goal in the third quarter. Adams also played 15 snaps on special teams; those contributions and his familiarity with the Bucs' defensive scheme makes him a valuable piece of depth on the active roster.
Desir, who has seen regular-season action for five teams, was most recently on the Baltimore Ravens' practice squad for the second half of the 2020 season. He started that campaign with the New York Jets and made eight starts before being released in November; he subsequently got into three more games with the Ravens after a series of practice squad elevations. He finished with a combined 49 tackles, three interceptions and eight passes defensed last year.
Desir first entered the league as a fourth-round draft pick by the Cleveland Browns in 2014. He has played for the Browns, Chargers, Colts, Jets and Ravens and has 259 tackles, eight interceptions and 42 passes defensed in his NFL career. Cooper initially made the Buccaneers' 53-man roster to start the season thanks to strong work on special teams in the preseason, but he was inactive for the opener before being waived the following day.
Triner has been the Buccaneers' long-snapper since the start of the 2019 season, playing in a total of 37 games, including the postseason. Tinker, who played his college ball at Alabama, was most recently in training camp with the New York Giants this summer before being waived in late August. He spent all of last season on the Giants' practice squad.
Tinker most recently saw regular-season action with the Jaguars in 2018, playing in five games before landing on injured reserve due to a knee injury. He also spent the 2017 on I.R. with a separate knee injury but was Jacksonville's long-snapper for all 64 games from 2013-16. He originally joined the Jaguars as an undrafted free agent in May of 2013.