Josh Keyes is back on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 53-man roster.
The Buccaneers made a handful of roster moves on Saturday in advance of their 2016 season opener in Atlanta on Sunday, the most significant of which was the promotion of second-year linebacker Josh Keyes from the practice squad to the 53-man roster. Originally an undrafted free agent out of Boston College in 2015, Keyes made it onto the active roster for seven games in his rookie campaign, contributing five tackles on defense and two more stops on special teams.
To make room for Keyes on the roster, the Buccaneers waived rookie tight end Alan Cross. The team also announced the return of rookie tight end Danny Vitale, a sixth-round draft pick who had been waived in the roster cut-down to 53 players last Saturday. Vitale has been signed to the practice squad, but the Buccaneers still have two spots to fill for next week on that 10-man unit because linebacker Micah Awe and wide receiver Evan Spencer were both released on Friday. Spencer has chosen to retire.
Keyes's promotion was not unexpected after the Bucs' Friday injury report officially ruled rookie linebacker Devante Bond out for the opener. Bond, who has been limited by a hamstring strain, did return to full participation in practice on Friday but his regular-season debut will have to wait at least a week. Without Keyes, the Buccaneers would have been left with only one linebacker, Adarius Glanton, to back up the starting trio of Lavonte David, Kwon Alexander and Daryl Smith.
Even without Cross, the Buccaneers will still take four tight ends into action on Sunday, assuming all four are among the 46 active players for the game. Luke Stocker sat out Wednesday's practice with a back ailment but has practiced fully the last two days; he's listed as questionable on the injury report but obviously has a chance to join tight ends Cameron Brate, Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Brandon Myers against the Falcons.