Sam Wilder earned second-team all-conference honors at Colorado last year
When the rash of injuries to offensive linemen first began for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, about a week into training camp, Head Coach Jon Gruden asserted that the team would explore every option to shore up the position, including free agency and trades.
The waiver wire produced in-camp signees Sam Lightbody, Todd Steussie, Jeff Hatch, Bryan Anderson and Phil Bogle. Now the Bucs have utilized the latter alternative as well, trading for tackle Sam Wilder. Tampa Bay sent an undisclosed draft pick to the Dallas Cowboys to obtain the rookie from the University of Colorado.
To make room on the roster, the Bucs released Anderson, who had signed on Monday.
Though the team has made three additions on the offensive line this week, Wilder is the first one who addresses the current injury issue at tackle, as both Anderson and Bogle are interior linemen. The team is currently without Derrick Deese, the starter at left tackle when training camp began. Deese began to experience foot soreness just a few days into camp and has practiced only briefly since.
Second-year tackle Anthony Davis took that opportunity to prove he could handle the left tackle position and would be the starter there if the season opened this weekend. However, Davis has missed the last three days of practice due to his own injury, a deep thigh bruise, pushing Steussie into the starting lineup, with only Lightbody backing him up. On the right side, tackles Kenyatta Walker and Chris Colmer have missed some practices due to minor injuries but are currently participating in all the work. The team has released Hatch and, earlier in camp, tackle Lance Nimmo unexpectedly retired.
The team hopes Davis can return to practice on Thursday back in Tampa and play in Saturday night's game, but Wilder still offers immediate help at the position. After the trade was consummated on Tuesday night, Wilder took a red-eye flight to Orlando and was on the field with his new teammates Wednesday morning.
The 6-5, 302-pound Wilder joined the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent on April 29, 2005. A second-team All-Big 12 performer in 2004, he played in 48 career games with 36 starts at Colorado. He played his first two seasons on the defensive line before moving to offense in 2003.
While Wilder arrived, Deese remained missing from the practice field. Head Coach Jon Gruden said Deese was off the site, receiving another examination on his injured foot.
"I don't have any update yet; those tests are extensive and ongoing," said Gruden, who also indicated that he hoped to have Deese back shortly. "He's had four or five opinions here, and we're going to get him as many opinions as we can get until we find the reality of this problem. Hopefully he comes back, the soreness has subsided and he can come out and compete. He's got to come out here and do that. We've got a real competition for him at left tackle."