WR Chad Lucas is familiar with the Bucs' offense, having spent more than a year working in the system
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers addressed their recent running back shortage by looking around the league, eventually acquiring Michael Bennett from the Kansas City Chiefs in a trading-deadline deal.
Now that a similar scarcity has arisen at the wide receiver position, the Buccaneers have chosen to promote from within. On Wednesday, the team signed first-year receiver Chad Lucas from the practice squad to the active roster. Lucas takes the roster spot opened by the placement of Mark Jones on injured reserve, but he may also help the Bucs weather a possible, shorter-term absence by Michael Clayton.
Lucas' promotion was one of a laundry list of moves made by Tampa Bay on Wednesday. Rookie fullback Byron Storer, who had spent the first six weeks of this season on the Bucs' practice squad, was also signed to the active roster, replacing fullback Zack Crockett, who was released.
To fill the two open spots on the practice squad created by Lucas' promotion and the Saturday signing of tight end Keith Heinrich, the Bucs re-signed tackle Dennis Roland and inked free agent wide receiver Derrick Hamilton. Roland had split the first six weeks of the season between the Bucs' practice squad and active roster before being released on Saturday. Hamilton most recently spent time with the Atlanta Falcons.
Both Jones and Clayton were injured in Sunday's game at Detroit. Jones, the team's primary punt and kickoff return man, suffered a knee injury in the first quarter and will require season-ending surgery. Clayton sustained an ankle injury on the second play of the game. While he is not headed to injured reserve, he is a question mark for the game against Jacksonville this coming weekend. The addition of Lucas to the 53-man roster gives the Bucs at least four healthy receivers to take on the Jaguars.
The 6-1, 201-pound Lucas has speed to burn and often looked like a legitimate deep threat during the Bucs' 2007 training camp. In the spring of 2006, he played for the Amsterdam Admirals of the now-defunct NFL Europe League and put up such telling numbers as 16.3 yards per catch and a league-high eight touchdown catches.
Lucas also has the advantage of being well-schooled in the Buccaneers' offense. He spent most of the 2006 season as well as the beginning of this year on Tampa Bay's practice squad. This is actually the second time he has been promoted to the active roster this year; the Bucs brought him up on September 26 after safety Sabby Piscitelli was sent to injured reserve, but then released him on September 29, the day before the game at Carolina, to make room for safety Donte Nicholson.
Storer (6-1, 219) is a hard-working rookie who could be an asset on special teams as well as a backup to fullback B.J. Askew. An undrafted free agent from Cal, Storer was released from the practice squad last week when the team brought in Michael Bennett and moved Kenneth Darby back to the practice squad. Storer returns now after Crockett ended his brief run with the team. Following the injuries to Cadillac Williams and Michael Pittman, the Bucs had signed the versatile 13th-year back on October 10. In two games with Tampa Bay, Crockett carried one time for zero yards.
Roland spent two games on the Bucs' 53-man roster after the loss of tackle Luke Petitgout to a season-ending knee injury at Carolina. Before Sunday's game at Detroit, however, the Bucs chose to promote tight end Keith Heinrich to cover the absence of injured tight end Alex Smith. The team released Roland to make room for Heinrich, then quickly inked Roland back to the practice squad this week.
The 6-4, 207-pound Hamilton was originally a third-round pick of the San Francisco 49ers in 2004. After he racked up 167 receptions at Clemson and broke Rod Gardner's school career record in that category, Hamilton was snapped up by the 49ers with the 77th overall pick of the draft.
He appeared in just one game as a rookie, spending the other 15 on the game-day inactive list. Before his sophomore campaign, Hamilton suffered a knee injury during mini-camps, forcing him to spend the season on the reserve/physically unable to perform list. He recovered from his injury but didn't make the 49ers' roster in 2006. Hamilton then signed with the Falcons this past March but was released shortly before training camp.