WR Joe Jurevicius will start camp on the PUP list but can return to practice at any time
Check-in day went smoothly and quietly at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp on Friday. Three years into their commitment to train at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex, most of the procedural kinks have been worked out.
Behind the scenes, however, there was a tremendous amount of activity.
Massaging their roster to meet NFL limits and cover possible depth problems, the Bucs made a wide variety of moves on Friday, highlighted by the signing of free agent wide receiver D'Wayne Bates and the placement of injured guard Matt O'Dwyer on the physically-unable-to-perform (PUP) list.
Here's a look at all of the Bucs' roster moves on Friday, at least as of 4:00 p.m. ET:
- Signed sixth-year WR D'Wayne Bates * Placed seventh-year WR Joe Jurevicius on the reserve-non football injury list * Placed 10th-year G Matt O'Dwyer on the active physically-unable-to-perform list * Agreed to terms with 2004 draft selections LB Marquise Cooper, S Will Allen, G Jeb Terry, TE Nate Lawrie, WR Mark Jones and FB Casey Cramer
There are additional moves on the way. With the team's six remaining draftees soon to be officially under contract, the Bucs will have to cut several players to adhere to the NFL's training-camp roster limit.
The Bucs are pleased to have all of their 2004 draft picks in the fold in time for the first official action of camp, a 7:00 p.m. meeting in which Head Coach Jon Gruden will address the team. [Michael Clayton and Lenny Williams signed last Friday.] Gruden suspects the eight new Bucs are happy as well, at least for now.
"There are a lot of celebrating young men in here tonight," said Gruden. "That will end shortly, I expect."
As for Jurevicius and O'Dwyer, both are eligible to return to practice at any time during training camp. They still count against the 80-man limit and can conduct their rehab assignments and sit in meetings with the team, but they cannot practice until they have been taken off their respective lists.
On the first mandatory roster cut-down date, August 31, the Bucs will either have to remove the two from their lists or move them to the reserve PUP list. With that designation, neither player would count against the 53-man roster during the regular season, but neither would be eligible to return to action until after the sixth week of the season.
Still, the team's decision to put those designations on Jurevicius and O'Dwyer rather than put them on injured reserve indicates that they hope to have the services of both back at some point this season. Jurevicius, in fact, is considered day-to-day by the Buccaneers' coaching staff.
"This is just basically saying the man is injured, although we do think there is a time during training camp when [Jurevicius] can be reactivated and join his teammates on the field," said Gruden.
Jurevicius has struggled with a knee injury suffered early during the 2003 season, but Gruden indicated that the knee is not the receiver's current problem. While the rehab on that joint has gone quite well this summer, Jurevicius has developed a lower-back strain, possibly while working on his knee.
"This is not a matter of his knee," Gruden stressed. "Unfortunately it's a matter of a lower-back strain that is day-to-day in terms of evaluation. He'll be given a shot to try to reduce the swelling there and as time goes by here we'll be much more specific with his status and how it pertains to the season."
O'Dwyer, who played left guard on the first-team offensive line during the Bucs' late-June mini-camp, sustained a pectoral tear during a workout several weeks ago and had surgery to repair the damage. The team had already announced that O'Dwyer would miss all of training camp and that his status for the regular season was uncertain.
O'Dwyer was one of four veteran offensive linemen signed by the Buccaneers in March, along with tackles Derrick Deese and Todd Steussie and G/T Matt Stinchcomb. He played nine previous seasons with the Jets and Bengals, starting 108 games at offensive guard.
Bates is the second veteran receiver signed by the Buccaneers in the last 10 days. On Tuesday of the previous week, the team brought former Packer and Lion standout Bill Schroeder on board. Bates is another veteran of the old NFC Central, having played for the Bucs' other two former division mates, the Bears and Vikings.
Bates is also a tall, sure-handed target with big-play potential, like Schroeder. In five NFL seasons, the former 6-2, 215-pound wideout has snared 80 passes for 1,061 yards and six touchdowns. He has appeared in 47 games with 21 starts, 19 of those starts coming in the last two seasons in Minnesota.
Bates' top year occurred in 2002, when he started opposite Randy Moss for most of the season and caught 50 passes for 869 yards and four touchdowns. He also returned four punts that season for 93 yards, with a long of 61.
"We targeted him as a guy we saw catch  balls two years ago," said Gruden of Bates. "He played well with the Vikings when they came into our stadium. He's a big guy. Obviously with the injury to Sylvester Morris, we have an opportunity to take a look at a guy who's played in this league and played well at times. Given the fact Sylvester did go down and Joe has had some offseason rehab, we have the room, quite honestly, to take a look at a guy who could possibly make this team and help us."
Bates, a Northwestern University product who overcame a serious knee injury late in his college career, joins former Wildcat teammate Austin King on the Bucs roster. In fact, the Buccaneers, who had one Northwestern player on the team during the franchise's first 27 seasons, now have three, including O'Dwyer.