Pictures of the Bucs' practice squad for the 2017 season.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers only kept one undrafted rookie on the 53-man roster this year, but they several other young newcomers clearly made a strong impression.
On Sunday, the Buccaneers announced the signing of 10 players to the first iteration of their 2017 practice squad. All 10 were players who Tampa Bay waived on Saturday during the league-wide roster cut-down to 53, including three that the team signed as rookie free agents right after the NFL draft this past spring.
Those three undrafted rookies – linebacker Riley Bullough, cornerback Jonathan Moxey and wide receiver Bobo Wilson – join several other players who were on the Bucs' practice squad last year, too. In addition, the Buccaneers will carry an 11th player, linebacker Eric Nzeocha, on that squad all year as an international exception. Below are the players who will begin the season on Tampa Bay's practice squad:
- DE Sterling Bailey
- LB Riley Bullough
- RB Russell Hansbrough
- FB Austin Johnson
- S Isaiah Johnson
- G Michael Liedtke
- T Marquis Lucas
- WR Freddie Martino
- CB Jonathan Moxey
- WR Bobo Wilson
The Buccaneers believe they had better roster depth in this year's training camp than they've enjoyed in recent years, so it's unsurprising that the practice squad is made up of players who were likely on the bubble until Saturday's cuts. For instance, Bernard Reedy won the Bucs' fifth receiver spot with a strong preseason performance catching passes and returning kicks, but Martino and Wilson also had impressive moments.
Photos of the Buccaneers' complete roster.
Likewise, Bullough was an early star of this year's Hard Knocks series, with Head Coach Dirk Koetter shown lauding the rookie for his communication skills on the field. Koetter also had strong words of praise during the preseason for Liedtke, who first joined the Buccaneers' practice squad last November.
Austin Johnson, who can fill a role in the Bucs' offense similar to that of Alan Cross, is the most experienced of the 10 players on the practice squad, having played 17 games for New Orleans in 2014-15 and one for Tampa Bay late last year. Martino has appeared in 14 NFL regular-season games, 13 of them for the Bucs last year, as he contributed eight catches for 142 yards and one touchdown. Hansbrough got into two contests last year as a rookie for the Buccaneers.