When John McCargo re-signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week, following a two-week stint with the team during the preseason, he felt confident that the hard work he had put in during the intervening months would allow him to take advantage of the opportunity.
The timing for McCargo was unfortunate, however. His opportunity was put on hold a day later when the Buccaneers were able to claim defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth off waivers from the New England Patriots. To make room for Haynesworth, the team released McCargo, who plays the same position.
McCargo wouldn't be gone long, however, thanks to another unfortunate occurrence. First-year defensive end George Johnson suffered a season-ending knee injury in Sunday's game against the Houston Texans and has been placed on injured reserve. The Buccaneers used the resulting roster spot to re-sign McCargo once again.
The move preserves the Bucs' depth along the interior line following the loss two weeks ago of starting defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. Though Johnson is a defensive end by trade, he has proved versatile enough to play the three-technique DT position in pass-rushing situations. That is the manner in which the Bucs had been utilizing him since McCoy's first injury in Week Five at San Francisco.
Johnson finished the season with three tackles, including two before suffering his injury during a punt return by teammate Preston Parker shortly before halftime. He had been promoted to the active roster on October 10 after spending the first five weeks of the season on the practice squad, and had subsequently seen action in each of the last four contests.
Johnson first came to the Buccaneers as an undrafted free agent in 2010. He spent most of his rookie season on Tampa Bay's practice squad before receiving his first promotion to the active roster last December. He was inactive for each of the Bucs' last three games of the season.
The 6-2, 307-pound McCargo became an unrestricted free agent in July when the NFL's new CBA was ratified and he did not re-sign in Buffalo after spending his first five seasons with the Bills. Originally the 26th overall draft pick in 2006, McCargo played in 40 games with Buffalo and recorded 47 tackles, 2.5 sacks, one forced fumble and five passes defensed.
The former North Carolina State standout joined the Buccaneers in time to see action in the team's final two preseason contests, including a start in the finale at Washington. In those two games, McCargo contributed seven tackles, one sack and one forced fumble. Tampa Bay's coaching staff was impressed with the sixth-year lineman's play during that short stint but wasn't able to find a spot for him on the regular-season roster when the final cuts occurred on September 4.
McCargo's rookie campaign and third NFL season in Buffalo were cut short by injuries, but he had his most productive season in 2007, playing in all 16 games and recording 29 tackles, 2.5 sacks and four passes defensed. He was active for just one game in 2010 when the Bills switched from a 4-3 defensive front to a 3-4 under new defensive coordinator George Edwards. During his original stint with the Buccaneers, McCargo said he felt more comfortable as a defensive tackle in a 4-3 front, such as the one Tampa Bay uses for the majority of its plays.