Down a man on the offensive line after Jeremy Trueblood was placed on injured reserve on Tuesday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers turned to a player with experience and a working knowledge of the team's offense. On Wednesday, the team announced that it has re-signed guard/tackle Derek Hardman, who has played in 12 games with four starts for the Buccaneers over the past three seasons.
The Buccaneers had two open spots on the 53-man roster after Trueblood and safety Cody Grimm were both moved to I.R. They have not yet filled the second one. However, the team also made another move on the practice squad on Wednesday morning, re-signing linebacker Joe Holland and releasing wide receiver Diondre Borel.
The 6-6, 300-pound Hardman saw his most extensive playing time as a rookie in 2010, when he helped the team in a similar situation after a rash of injuries. He had joined the Buccaneers as an undrafted free agent out of Eastern Kentucky and spent the first half of the season on the practice squad before earning a promotion in October. When Pro Bowl guard Davin Joseph went down with a season-ending injury in December, Hardman stepped in at right guard and for the final four games of the season. Tampa Bay won three of those four games and averaged 381 yards of offense and 143 yards on the ground in that span.
Hardman returned to a reserve role in 2011 but remained on the active roster throughout the entire campaign. He went to training camp with the Buccaneers again this summer and played in all four preseason games, with one start. Hardman was initially retained through the roster cutdown to 53, but was then waived in the middle of the first regular-season week when the team signed cornerback Brandon McDonald. Hardman returned to the roster a week later but was on the team for only one game, during which he was inactive.
The versatile Hardman, who played tackle at Eastern Kentucky, could help the Bucs' offensive line depth in several ways. The team has already adjusted to the losses of both Joseph and fellow Pro Bowl guard Carl Nicks and is now thin behind the starting tackles after the loss of Trueblood.
Holland, who was on the Bucs' practice squad in Week 11, has also spent time in San Francisco and Miami this season. The undrafted rookie linebacker played his college ball at Purdue, where he racked up 325 tackles, 23.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, two interceptions and 15 passes defensed. Borel also joined the Buccaneers' practice squad in Week 11.