FB Charles Kirby could see his first NFL regular season action on Monday
Former Virginia fullback Charles Kirby has been in the NFL in some capacity since the spring of 1998 but has yet to suit up for a regular-season. It appears Kirby will finally get his chance; on Thursday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed the 250-pound blocker to their active roster with a two-year contract.
Kirby had spent the previous three weeks on the Bucs' practice squad, but a spot opened up on the active roster last week when TE Blake Spence was forced to injured reserve with ligament damage in his right knee. In the interim, WR Karl Williams suffered his own knee sprain at Washington on Sunday, an injury expected to keep Williams out for four to six weeks.
That complicated matters in terms of how the Bucs would use the open roster spot. Rookie Todd Yoder moved up the depth chart one spot to replace Spence, but would the team be in the market for another tight end? Would they need a fifth receiver to replace Williams? Would they look for a fullback to fill the void created at the end of the preseason when former lead blocker Kevin McLeod was diagnosed with a heart ailment?
The answer came on Thursday when Kirby was promoted. Kirby had previously made cracks at the Indianapolis Colts' active roster in 1988 and '99 and the Kansas City Chiefs' roster this year. In 1998, he spent the entire season on Indy's injured reserve list with an Achilles injury suffered in July. In 1999, Kirby was released by the Colts but spent half of the campaign on the Chiefs' practice squad. He went back to camp with Kansas City this year but was waived and then signed by the Bucs on September 11.
Murphy, on the other hand, has seen regular-season action, most of it with the Buccaneers. It is fitting that Murphy yo-yoed back to the Bucs' squad this particular week, as Tampa Bay is preparing to play the Minnesota Vikings.
Last season, Murphy was on the Bucs' roster for the first 11 games and was active for seven of those contests. After quarterbacks Eric Zeier and Trent Dilfer each suffered injuries, the Buccaneers elected to bring back QB Scott Milanovich, and made room on the active roster for Milanovich by releasing Murphy. The team intended to bring Murphy back, but the polished kick return man was claimed off waivers by the Minnesota Vikings.
Murphy remained on the Vikings' roster for the rest of the season but was active for just one game, Tampa Bay's 24-17 downing of Minnesota on Monday Night Football on December 6. After the Vikes waived Murphy on January 11, the Bucs quickly signed him back as soon as their own playoff run had ended.
Though Murphy did not make the Bucs' active roster out of training camp this season, he is known to the team as a productive return man and sure-handed receiver. With the Buccaneers, Murphy caught four passes for 28 yards and returned 14 kickoffs for 307 yards (21.9-yard average).