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IR Claims One More: Zemaitis

CB Alan Zemaitis will finish his rookie season on injured reserve thanks to a shoulder ailment, and second-year RB Lionel Gates gets a late promotion to the active roster


CB Alan Zemaitis got plenty of work on the practice field in his rookie season but did not see action in a game

Alan Zemaitis made the team this year, but he'll have to wait until next year to take the field.

A few days before the end of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' season, Zemaitis' own rookie campaign came to an end. The fourth-round pick out of Penn State was placed on injured reserve on Friday due to a shoulder ailment; the Bucs will conclude their 2006 season on Sunday with a home game against the Seattle Seahawks.

To fill the spot on the 53-man roster opened by Zemaitis' move, the Bucs promoted running back Lionel Gates from the practice squad. The team subsequently re-signed cornerback Carlos Hendricks to the practice squad to take Gates' place.

Zemaitis spent his entire rookie season – all but the last three days – on the Bucs' active roster, but he was a game-day inactive for each of the first 15 games. Zemaitis was one of seven players drafted by the team last April who saw time on the active roster; an eighth, tight end T.J. Williams, spent the entire season on injured reserve.

The 6-2, 200-pound Zemaitis has practiced through his shoulder injury for much of the second half of the season. He has appeared on the team's injury report for the last three weeks.

At Penn State, Zemaitis was a second-team All-America selection and a semifinalist for the Thorpe Award, given to the nation's top collegiate defensive back. He was a highly-touted draft prospect and considered a perfect fit for the Buccaneers' Cover Two defensive scheme.

Gates gets a late-season reward after spending the entire fall on Tampa Bay's practice squad. He was one of the original members of that 2006 unit, first signed on September 4, and he gives the Bucs greater depth in the offensive backfield with the likely absence of running back Cadillac Williams on Sunday.

Gates, was a seventh-round pick out of Louisville by the Buffalo Bills in 2005. He spent his entire rookie season on the Bills' active roster but was inactive for 15 games and did not play in the game for which he dressed. At Louisville, the 6-0, 223-pound runner spent most of his career in a backfield rotation with Henry Miller, Eric Shelton and Michael Bush but did lead the team with 817 yards on 141 carries (5.8 avg.) as a junior in 2003.

Hendricks entered the NFL this spring as an undrafted free agent with the Chicago Bears. Hendricks was released by the Bears prior to the start of the regular season. He later signed with the Bucs' practice squad on November 16 but was released on November 27.

A four-year letter winner at Alabama-Birmingham, Hendricks (5-11, 190) played in 46 games with 33 starts and tallied 172 tackles, five interceptions, 19 passes defensed, three forced fumbles and six fumble recoveries. A native of Montgomery, Alabama, he played both safety and cornerback during his Blazers career.

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