Driven by a rash of injuries sustained in Sunday's Week 12 game at Atlanta, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have opened Week 13 with a full dozen roster moves, nine of them announced on Wednesday. Most significantly, starting offensive linemen Demar Dotson and Ali Marpet have been placed on injured reserve. They will miss the last five games of the season.
On Tuesday, the Buccaneers released tight end Luke Stocker and defensive end Darryl Tapp; as such, a total of four open spots were created on the 53-man roster. Those spots were filled by three players promoted from the practice squad – tight end Alan Cross, defensive end Patrick O'Connor and wide receiver Bobo Wilson – and the return of cornerback Deji Olatoye.
The Buccaneers also released cornerback David Rivers from the practice squad. Coupled with the three promotions, that created four openings on that unit, as well. To fill them the team re-signed cornerback Maurice Fleming and defensive end Patrick Gamble while also bringing in a new pair of rookies, Villanova tackle Brad Seaton and Wisconsin running back Dare Ogunbowale.
The Buccaneers had at least seven players leave Sunday's game in Atlanta due to injury, though some of them returned to action. Clearly, Dotson and Marpet – the team's starting right tackle and center, respectively – got the worst of it. Caleb Benenoch and Leonard Wester will be candidates to replace Dotson in the starting lineup while Joe Hawley or Evan Smith could step in at center. Smith, however, missed the Buccaneers' last game due to a concussion.
The Buccaneers have placed seven players on injured reserve this season, although defensive end Noah Spence was the only regular on that list before the additions of Dotson and Marpet. Tampa Bay's injuries had previously been concentrated heavily at defensive end and cornerback, but now the offensive line will have new starters for the first time this season. The Buccaneers have had mixed results up front, with the running game finding little traction but the pass protection ranking seventh in the league in terms of sacks allowed per pass play.
Dotson played in his 100th career game on Sunday and he has opened all 12 games this year. Except when missing time to injury the past two seasons, Dotson has been the team's starting right tackle since 2012, giving him the most tenure on the Bucs' line. Marpet, a second-round draft pick in 2015, has been a starter since the opening week of his rookie season, although he switched from right guard to center this season.
Cross started the season on Tampa Bay's active roster but was waived and signed to the practice squad in early October. A former undrafted free agent out of Memphis who also made the team as a rookie last year, Cross has played in 17 games for the Buccaneers, recording eight catches for 49 yards and a touchdown. Olatoye also has regular-season playing experience, getting into one game in his first stint with the Buccaneers this season, plus seven for Atlanta in 2016-17 and five for Dallas in 2015. Originally an undrafted free agent out of North Carolina A&T, he has 17 career tackles plus an interception and four passes defensed.
Wilson and O'Connor will have a chance to log their first regular-season NFL experience. Wilson, an undrafted rookie out of Florida State, has spent the first 12 weeks of 2017 on Tampa Bay's practice squad. O'Connor was a seventh-round draft pick by Detroit out of Eastern Michigan and he has spent one week on the Lions' practice squad and seven weeks in Tampa.
Fleming went to training camp with the Buccaneers this summer as an undrafted free agent out of West Virginia. He was waived/injured late in August after appearing in two preseason games and recording two tackles and one pass defensed. Gamble, an undrafted rookie out of Georgia Tech, spent one week on the Bucs' practice squad earlier in November. Seaton was a seventh-round draft pick of the Titans this past April. He spent a good portion of the season on Tennessee's practice squad before being released in November. Ogunbowale signed as an undrafted rookie with the Houston Texans and spent the first five weeks of the season on their practice squad.