When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers returned to the practice field on Wednesday after their first off day of training camp, there were three new players in the mix, as well as one returning participant who was just cleared to play.
The returning player is incumbent punter Michael Koenen, who started camp on the active/non-football injury list due to a minor foot injury suffered shortly before reporting day. Koenen counted against the 90-man roster while on the active/NFI list but couldn't practice until his injury had healed and he was removed from that list.
The offensive line got a minor overhaul with Wednesday's maneuvers, as guards Roger Allen and Howard Barbieri were added and tackles Brice Schwab and Jason Weaver were waived. A third spot on the roster was turned over when linebacker Dom DeCicco was signed and cornerback Mason Robison was waived.
Koenen is heading into his third season as the Buccaneers' punter after signing with the team as an unrestricted free agent in July of 2011. In his first two seasons with the team he has played in all 32 games and punted 143 times, posting a 45.2-yard gross average and a 38.7-yard net average. His net punting average of 40.3 yards per kick in 2011 set a new Buccaneer single-season record, eclipsing the old mark by a full 2.5 yards. Koenen is also one of the league's top kickoff specialists, and last fall he set an NFL record by producing touchbacks on 21 consecutive kickoffs.
Of the three additions to the roster on Wednesday, Allen is the only one who has previous experience with the Buccaneers, appearing in four games for Tampa Bay last fall. He was originally signed to the Bucs' practice squad on September 18 before being promoted to the active roster on October 30. He was released by the team on May 6 but now returns for another shot to make the active roster in 2013. The 6-3, 325-pound Allen first entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the St. Louis Rams out of Missouri Western in 2009. He made the team as a rookie and eventually appeared in two late-season games, with one start. He went to training camp with the New Orleans Saints in 2011 and the Carolina Panthers in 2012.
Barbieri (6-5, 300) went to camp with the Houston Texans in 2011 after signing as an undrafted free agent out of Rutgers. He spent his entire rookie season on Houston's practice squad, then joined the Baltimore Ravens during the 2012 offseason.
DeCicco (6-4, 230) also entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2011, out of the University of Pittsburgh, signing with the Chicago Bears. He made the team as a rookie and played in all 16 games, primarily on special teams, where he ranked second on the squad with 17 tackles. He also saw limited action on defense, contributing 12 additional stops. The Bears released DeCicco with an injury settlement at the end of the 2012 preseason but later brought him back to the 53-man roster in December. He appeared in four more games in 2012 and was later released in May of this year.
Robinson, Schwab and Weaver were all rookies who joined the Buccaneers as undrafted free agents. Schwab and Weaver were among the 13 players the team added in the days immediately after April's draft, while Robinson was signed last Saturday.