The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are using the post-cuts waiver wire to add significant depth and talent to their running back corps, turning a temporarily thin position into one of strength.
On Monday, one day after claiming running back Kregg Lumpkin off waivers from the Green Bay Packers, the Buccaneers did the same with rookie LeGarrette Blount, who was released by Tennessee on Sunday. To make room for Blount on the 53-man roster, Tampa Bay released wide receiver Reggie Brown.
Blount entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the Titans this past spring. A powerful 247-pound runner, Blount led Tennessee in rushing during the preseason, gaining 118 yards and two touchdowns on 31 receptions.
In 15 games over the 2008-09 seasons at Oregon, Blount rushed for 1048 yards and 18 touchdowns on 154 carries, averaging 6.8 yards per tote. As a junior, he appeared in all 13 of the Ducks' games and rang up 1,002 yards and 17 touchdowns on just 137 carries (7.3-yard avg.). Prior to transferring to Oregon, Blount rushed for 2,292 yards and 18 touchdowns during two seasons at East Mississippi Community College.
The Buccaneers acquired Brown from the Philadelphia Eagles in March in exchange for a sixth-round pick in the 2011 draft. Brown, who played five seasons in Philadelphia before the swap, played in all four of the Bucs' 2010 preseason games and caught four passes for 57 yards. He was one of seven receivers the team originally kept among its 53 players following Saturday's roster cutdown. The Buccaneers are obviously pleased with the emergence of such young receivers as Mike Williams, Arrelious Benn, Sammie Stroughter and Preston Parker.
The Buccaneers also added three more players to their practice squad on Monday, bringing back tackle Derek Hardman and adding two other rookies who spent their first NFL preseasons with other teams, tackle Will Barker and wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe.
Despite joining the Buccaneers as an undrafted free agent out of Eastern Kentucky this past spring, Hardman was one of the 53 players kept after the roster cuts on Saturday. He was then released on Sunday to open a roster spot for the waiver claim of rookie center/guard Ted Larsen from the New England Patriots. Hardman played in all four of the Buccaneers' 2010 preseason games and drew the start against Houston at right guard.
At 6-7 and 320 pounds, Barker brings tremendous size to the Buccaneers' line. The former University of Virginia standout started all 49 games in which he played over four seasons for the Cavaliers. In 2008, he anchored a UVA offensive line that ranked first in the ACC by allowing only 16 sacks.
The 6-2, 210-pound Briscoe was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals in the sixth round of the 2010 NFL Draft. He played his college ball at Kansas, where he was a first-team All-Big 12 selection in 2009, an honorable mention All-America choice by Sports Illustrated in 2008 and a freshman All-America honorable mention by Sporting News in 2007. In just three seasons at Kansas, Briscoe amassed 208 receptions for 3,240 yards and 31 touchdowns. In 2008, he caught 92 passes and set new Jayhawk single-season records in both receiving yards (1,407) and touchdown receptions (15).
Those three additions give the team six practice squad players, following Sunday's signings of safety Vince Anderson, defensive end George Johnson and tight end Ryan Purvis. NFL teams can carry up to eight practice squad players at a time and the Bucs are likely to have the squad filled out in time for the beginning of the practice week on Tuesday afternoon.