Rookie DE Charles Bennett has practiced with the Bucs during the first half of the season
Seeking to bolster a defensive line thinned by injuries, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made a pair of roster moves on Monday afternoon. On Monday evening, the Bucs will take on the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte without the services of defensive line starters Simeon Rice and Ellis Wyms.
As such, rookie defensive end Charles Bennett was signed from the practice squad to the active roster. To make room for Bennett on the 53-man roster, the Bucs released wide receiver Mark Jones.
Bennett was one of three seventh-round draft picks by the Buccaneers this past April. His promotion means the team has now found space on its roster for seven of the 10 players it selected in the 2006 draft. An eighth player from that class, sixth-round tight end T.J. Williams, is on injured reserve.
Bennett joins guard Davin Joseph, tackle Jeremy Trueblood, wide receiver Maurice Stovall, cornerback Alan Zemaitis, defensive end Julian Jenkins and quarterback Bruce Gradkowski as '06 draftees on the roster. Joseph, Trueblood and Gradkowski have already cracked the starting lineup and Stovall, Jenkins and Bennett should all see reserve action in Monday's game.
The 241st player selected in April's draft, Bennett (6-3, 245) was a productive edge rusher with outstanding speed at Clemson, and the Bucs hope he can develop into the same sort of player in the NFL. With Rice out, fourth-year player Dewayne White will start Monday's game at right defensive end and Bennett will be spelled by Bennett and Jenkins.
The Bucs waived Bennett on September 2 during the final round of cut-downs before the regular season after he missed much of training camp with a hamstring injury. Bennett was added to the practice squad the following day and spent the first half of the season on that eight-man crew.
Jones was the Bucs' primary punt returner in 2005 and during the first four games of this season. However, he missed several contests with a hamstring injury and remained on the inactive list after he was cleared to play. The Bucs have turned to veteran receiver Ike Hilliard and recently-signed cornerback Phillip Buchanon to return punts. The Bucs originally drafted Jones in 2004 but he played his rookie season with the New York Giants before returning to Tampa just before the start of the 2005 regular season.