The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have five wide receivers ready to go when they face the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, but the fifth wideout will be Freddie Martino, not Donteea Dye.
On Saturday, a day after arriving in California for their Week Seven matchup with the 49ers, the Buccaneers tweaked a receiving corps that has been in flux all week, waiving Dye and promoting Martino back to the active roster. Dye had just returned to the team this week, first as a member of the practice squad before his own midweek promotion to the 53-man roster.
The Buccaneers also placed starting wide receiver Vincent Jackson on injured reserve on Tuesday and got wide receiver Cecil Shorts back on the practice field after a three-game absence due to a hamstring injury. In addition, wide receiver Louis Murphy, who has been on the reserve/physically-unable-to-perform list since the start of the season, started practicing this week in anticipation of a possible return to the active roster.
This is the second time this season that Martino (6-0, 195) has been promoted from the practice squad. He spent the first two weeks on that 10-man crew before getting the call-up on September 21, after which he appeared in games against Los Angeles and Denver without recording a reception. Martino originally entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the Atlanta Falcons in 2014, joining a team that had Mike Smith as head coach and Dirk Koetter as offensive coordinator. After a late-season promotion from the practice squad in his rookie season, Martino got into one game for the Falcons but did not record a reception. He spent all of last season on the Philadelphia Eagles' practice squad. Martino played in all four of the Bucs' preseason games in August, tying for the team lead with eight receptions.
Dye was waived/injured near the end of the preseason, and due to his injury settlement was not eligible to be re-signed by the Buccaneers on Monday. He spent a good portion of the interim recovering from his injury, and after a week on the practice field it was clear to Koetter and his staff that Dye was not yet prepared to play in a game.
"[He's] not ready," said Koetter. "And I don't mean any disrespect – I'd say he's not quite ready. [It's] rust. He knows what he's doing [in the offense]. Guys that miss four weeks, six weeks, they can train all they want to, but it's just always different. Running with the trainers, running on your own – it's just different when you get out here and there are 21 other guys on the field with you. A guy can look great in a workout, and it's just different when you've got other guys on the field. It's just a long time to take off."
Martino joins Shorts, Mike Evans, Adam Humphries and Russell Shepard on the Buccaneers' receiving corps for Week Seven.