The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' latest rookie mini-camp has produced another player who will try to duplicate the Adam Humphries path to the NFL, from tryout player to regular-season contributor.
The Buccaneers announced three roster moves on Thursday, including the signings of linebacker Shaheed Salmon and wide receiver Thomas Sperbeck. The team had one open spot on the 90-man roster after a round of moves earlier in the week, and thus had to make just one complimentary maneuver, the release of first-year linebacker Jeff Knox.
Salmon was one of several dozen players who took part in last weekend's rookie mini-camp at One Buccaneer Place on tryout contracts. Two – guard Ruben Holcomb and cornerback Mark Myers – were signed on Sunday among the moves referenced above. Salmon is the third and, like Holcomb and Myers, he is a from a school outside the FBS, having starred at Samford in the FCS Southern Conference. Holcomb and Myers are from even smaller programs – Indianapolis and Southeastern have produced one NFL player between them, and none since the 1950s. Samford has had four players drafted in the past seven years, including Carolina cornerback James Bradberry.
Salmon (6-2, 232) is also a hometown find for the Buccaneers, a Tampa native who played his prep ball at Land O' Lakes High School and was a third-team all-state selection. At Samford, he was an extremely productive defender with the ability to rush the passer and make plays in coverage. Over four seasons with the Bulldogs, Salmon recorded 274 tackles, 40 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, five forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, four interceptions and nine passes defensed. He finished his collegiate career with perhaps his best season yet, leading the team with 109 stop sand adding 15.5 tackles for loss, 4.0 sacks, three forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and one interception.
Salmon also made a quick impression in the Buccaneers' rookie mini-camp, securing two interceptions in the first practice last Friday.
Sperbeck is back for a second go-around in Tampa, having signed with the Buccaneers as an undrafted free agent out of Boise State last May. The 6-0, 180-pound wideout made it to the start of training camp but was then waived/injured early in August. He was extremely productive at Boise State, racking up 224 receptions for 3,601 yards and 20 touchdowns over four seasons for the Broncos. He cleared 80 catches and 1,200 yards in both his junior and senior seasons and averaged 16.1 yards per reception over his college career. Sperbeck even threw three passes as a senior, and completed all of them for touchdowns.
Knox had been signed to a reserve/futures contract in February, and it was also his second go-around with the Buccaneers. A former Canadian Football League standout, he was also signed by Tampa Bay in January of 2017 and went to training camp with the team last summer. He recorded three tackles and one stop on special teams in four preseason games for the Buccaneers.