RB Kenneth Darby was the Bucs' leading rusher during the preseason
On Wednesday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers officially moved tackle Luke Petitgout and running back Cadillac Williams to injured reserve. Wasting little time filling the roster spots opened by those moves, the team promoted two players from its own practice squad: running back Kenneth Darby and tackle Dennis Roland.
The practice squad quickly got replacements at those spots, too, as the Bucs signed a pair of first-year players, running back DonTrell Moore and tackle Ryan Gibbons. The team also swapped out one more of its eight practice squad slots, releasing cornerback Marcus Hamilton and re-signing wide receiver Chad Lucas.
By bringing up Darby and Roland, the Buccaneers recharged their depth on the line and in the backfield with players who are familiar with the team's offense. Roland spent all of last season on the Bucs' practice squad, too, and has thus had more than a year to absorb the system. Darby was a seventh-round draft pick in April and he impressed during the preseason, emerging as the team's leading rusher in August.
The 6-9, 325-pound Roland is actually expected to back up right tackle Jeremy Trueblood. With Petitgout out, second-year man Donald Penn will be taking over at left tackle and his likely backup is guard/tackle swingman Anthony Davis. Davis started all 32 games at left tackle for the Buccaneers in 2005 and 2006.
Roland originally entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with Dallas in May of 2006. He was released at the end of the preseason and immediately picked up by Tampa Bay for its practice squad. At Georgia, Roland started 24 games over his final two collegiate seasons; in 2004, he helped the Bulldogs roll up nearly 400 yards of offense per game.
Darby, meanwhile, was a star at Alabama, where he became just the third player in team history to surpass 3,000 career rushing yards. In 2005, he was an all-conference first-team selection after ranking second in the SEC with 103.5 rushing yards per game. His final Alabama totals included 3,324 rushing yards and 70 receptions.
During the 2007 preseason, Darby carried a team-high 33 times for 135 yards and a touchdown, averaging 4.1 yards per carry. He also looked smooth in the passing game, making five receptions for 36 yards.
Moore and Gibbons were most recently members of the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars, respectively.
The 5-9, 208-pound Moore was a force on the ground while at New Mexico, becoming only the sixth player in NCAA I-A history to record four 1,000-yard rushing seasons. He left college ranked 13th on the NCAA I-A all-time rush list and his 356 career points rank him 11th in scoring in NCAA I-A history among non-kickers.
While starting 41 of 48 games, Moore set several school and Mountain West Conference records, including rushing yards (4,973), rushing attempts (1,028), rushing touchdowns (51) and total touchdowns (59). Also a capable receiver out of the backfield, Moore added 92 catches for 857 yards during his collegiate career.
As a senior, Moore successfully rebounded from an ACL injury to his left knee, rushing for 1,298 yards and 14 touchdowns while adding 31 receptions for 371 yards and three more scores. That performance earned him the 2005 Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year.
Moore initially entered the league with the New York Jets after being signed as a rookie free agent in May of 2006. He was waived in June of '06 and did not play in the NFL as a rookie. The Titans signed Moore in February and took him to this year's training camp, but he was released on September 1.
Gibbons was allocated to NFL Europa this past year by Jacksonville. There, he helped the Hamburg Sea Devils win the final World Bowl title.
Gibbons originally entered the league as a rookie free agent with Jacksonville in April of 2006. After spending training camp with the Jaguars, Gibbons was waived but then resigned to the team's practice squad where he spent the final 15 weeks of the 2006 season. After his NFLEL season, he went back to camp with the Jaguars this season but was waived on September 2. Gibbons landed on the Jacksonville practice squad again to start the season but was released on September 20.
While at Northeastern, the 6-6, 329-pound Gibbons was a four-year starter on the offensive line, playing in 46 career game and making 36 starts.
Lucas returns to the practice squad after a brief stint on the active roster that did not include a game day. After safety Sabby Piscitelli was placed on injured reserve last week, the team used the open roster spot to elevate Lucas from the practice squad. However, on Saturday, a day before the team's contest at Carolina, the Bucs made another move, re-signing safety Donte Nicholson and releasing Lucas to make room.
Like Darby, Hamilton was drafted by the Buccaneers in the seventh round this past April. He was signed to the practice squad immediately after the final roster cuts and spent the first four weeks on that unit.