One of the players who has helped the Tampa Bay Buccaneers get through a rash of midseason injuries to the defensive back seven is now headed to injured reserve himself.
On Tuesday, the Buccaneers placed linebacker Kevin Minter on I.R. due to a calf injury he sustained in the team's Week 14 loss to the New Orleans Saints. Minter had taken over as the team's starting middle linebacker the previous two games and offered impressive production despite relatively little playing time. Minter joins the team's usual starting linebacker, Kwon Alexander, on injured reserve.
That move opened a spot on the 53-man roster which the team filled by promoting rookie tight end Tanner Hudson from the practice squad. To fill the resulting spot on the practice squad, and to give the team additional practice field depth at linebacker, the Bucs have signed Emmanuel Smith, an undrafted rookie who went to training camp with the Atlanta Falcons.
The Buccaneers originally signed Minter on October 23, then released him a week later only to bring him back on November 13 when Lavonte David was sidelined for two games by a knee injury. The team originally filled the void created by the loss of Alexander by playing Adarius Taylor in the middle, but when David returned the team moved Taylor to the strong side and inserted Minter in the middle. Because Taylor joined David in the nickel package, Minter was on the field for only 14 defensive snaps the past two weeks but still recorded six tackles and a sack.
Hudson (6-5, 239) went to training camp with the Buccaneers and played in all four preseason games, recording four receptions for 45 yards. An undrafted free agent out of Southern Arkansas this past spring, he played in 43 collegiate games and recorded 2,231 total yards of offense and 26 touchdowns, catching 143 passes. Originally a quarterback, he transferred from Memphis to Southern Arkansas after his freshman season and switched to tight end as a junior.
Smith (6-2, 240) converted from safety to linebacker during his four years at Vanderbilt, having his most productive season at the latter position as a senior in 2017, with 57 stops and four tackles for loss. He played in 40 games for the Commodores, contributing 76 tackles. Smith made it through the preseason in Atlanta but was waived during the final roster cuts.