Collin Franklin might be able to thank one bad step by fellow rookie tight end Luke Stocker for his first crack at an NFL 53-man roster.
On Wednesday, the Buccaneers announced that they have signed Franklin to their active roster from their practice squad, where he spent the first three weeks of the season. Franklin took the spot on the 53-man crew vacated when second-year safety Cody Grimm was placed on injured reserve.
To fill the subsequent opening on the practice squad created by Franklin's promotion, the Buccaneers signed rookie guard/center Zane Taylor, formerly of the University of Utah and the New York Jets.
Franklin first joined the Buccaneers on August 10 as a waiver claim from the New York Jets. Tampa Bay had gone to training camp with five tight ends, including Stocker, but had seen the position hit by injuries during the first two weeks. In particular, Stocker was out for most of training camp after suffering a fluky hip injury on a misstep during his very first NFL practice.
With Stocker sidelined and starter Kellen Winslow not expected to play in the first few preseason games, the Bucs shored up that position with the addition of Franklin, who joined holdovers Ryan Purvis and Nathan Overbay and 2011 seventh-round pick Daniel Hardy. That eventually gave the 6-5, 252-pound Franklin an opportunity to play in two preseason games for Tampa Bay, during which he contributed a pair of catches.
Franklin was released on August 29 before the preseason finale, but the Bucs had obviously seen something they liked. While Purvis, Overbay and Hardy were subsequently released as well and have not returned, Franklin was brought back to perform on the practice squad. Now he joins Winslow and Stocker, as well as fellow rookie Zack Pianalto, on the active roster.
Franklin originally signed with the Jets as an undrafted free agent out of Iowa State, following an outstanding senior season in which he caught 54 passes for 530 yards and three touchdowns. He hails from Simi Valley, California.
Coincidentally, Taylor also started his career as an undrafted free agent with the Jets this summer, signing on the same day as Franklin. Taylor made it through the entire preseason in New York but was released on the final cutdown on September 3.
The 6-2, 309 pound Taylor started 38 games at center for Utah during his final three collegiate seasons, earning all-conference honors in each of those campaigns. He was an all-MWC honorable mention as a sophomore, before garnering second-team honors in his junior campaign and first-team accolades last year. Also a four-time academic all-conference choice, Taylor was considered the strongest player on the Utes' roster. He hails from Moab, Utah.