After a preseason performance Head Coach Bruce Arians categorized as 'good, bad and a lot of ugly,' the team has announced it has waived three players from its roster. It's the beginning of an effort to pare down the 90-man roster to 85 by this coming Tuesday, as mandated by league rules.
Tight end De'Quan Hampton, cornerback Cameron Kinley and wide receiver Josh Pearson were the first among what will be many more cuts as the preseason goes on. The reality is, with a team like the Buccaneers, who are returning all of their championship season starters and much of their previous year's depth on top of that, the margin of error for young players looking to make it to final cuts seems razor thin.
"Yeah, I mean the top 30 to 35, that's set and hopefully we can get through preseason with no injuries with that group," said Arians on Sunday. "But there's a hell of a lot of competition, not just for those other roster spots, but for practice squad spots. Those guys played up big for us last year – those guys that we elevated off the practice squad played in huge games down the stretch. That competition for those 20 to 30 sports is huge."
Hampton played just three offensive snaps for the Bucs on Saturday night with none on special teams. In a deep tight end room, the Southern California product was facing a numbers battle entering into this preseason. Tight end O.J. Howard made his return to action Saturday night and though Cameron Brate was not dressed, he had also returned to practice this week. That leaves six tight ends on the current roster.
Kinley was hit with an unnecessary roughness penalty in the third quarter of Saturday's game against the Bengals, playing 48% of team's defensive snaps and 43% of special teams snaps. You'll remember Kinley received special permission from the Pentagon to defer his enlistment into the Navy and attend training camp with the Buccaneers this preseason.
Pearson had showed flashes in camp with some of the third and fourth team offenses, becoming a regular target for quarterbacks Ryan Griffin and Kyle Trask. Pearson had two targets in Saturday night's game but did not register a reception.
The Bucs roster now stands at 87 and will need to get to 85 by August 17 at 4 p.m..