As the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were finishing up their first week of training camp on Thursday, they made another small tweak to their 90-man camp roster and held a handful of players out of their morning practice.
The latest newcomer on the Bucs' practice field is Brian Smith, a first-year linebacker out of Notre Dame who originally signed with the Cleveland Browns as an undrafted free agent last year. Smith was on the Browns' active roster at the end of last season, appearing in the final two games.
Taking a break for all or most of Thursday's practice were safety Mark Barron, defensive back Ronde Barber, defensive tackle Amobi Okoye and defensive end Michael Bennett. Head Coach Greg Schiano says all four players were held out for "little things," and in fact Barber is not dealing with any sort of ailment. The Buccaneers are simply managing Barber's camp reps in a nod to his 16 seasons in the league.
"I want to make sure we're smart with him," said Schiano of Barber's practice regimen. "Mark, his toe got banged up yesterday but I think he'll be fine. And Amobi just needs a couple days [of rest]. After going on it for four days he needs a couple days rest."
Okoye had arthroscopic knee surgery during the offseason and was briefly placed on the active/PUP list before the start of camp. However, he was cleared to practice and removed from the PUP list on the day the team reported for camp and has worked extensively since.
Bennett left Wednesday's practice shortly before it was over and was held out on Thursday, but Schiano says the fourth-year end simply hasn't felt well the past two days.
The arrival of Smith gives the Bucs a little added depth at linebacker and on special teams. At Notre Dame, the 6-3, 240-pound linebacker played in 47 games with 29 starts and racked up 199 tackles, five sacks, four interceptions and three forced fumbles. As a senior in 2010, he contributed 49 tackles, one sack, one interception and one forced fumble. Smith, who hails from Overland Park, Kansas, spent a month on Cleveland's practice squad before his promotion to the active roster on December 20.