A potent kick return threat in Baltimore, Figurs could use his top-end speed to produce at receiver, too
As the defensive coordinator for Kansas State in 2006, Raheem Morris got a full dose of Yamon Figurs in practice every day. Now the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Morris hopes Figurs can add some excitement to his receiving corps.
The Buccaneers signed Figurs on Tuesday, roughly two weeks after he was waived by the Detroit Lions. To make room for the third-year pass-catcher on the 53-man roster, the Buccaneers released linebacker Matt McCoy.
Tuesday's roster maneuvers also included several changes to the Bucs' eight-man practice squad. Wide receiver Patrick Carter and defensive tackle Rashaad Duncan were released from that unit, and one of the two open spots was filled by rookie offensive lineman Marc Dile. Dile had been waived by the Buccaneers on Monday when the team signed defensive lineman . The moves leave the Buccaneers with one open spot on the practice squad, which will likely be filled soon.
An explosive receiver and one of the nation's best kick returners at K-State, Figurs first entered the NFL as a third-round draft pick of the Baltimore Ravens in 2007. He played in 28 games over his first two seasons and was Baltimore's primary return man over that span. As a rookie, he averaged 24.7 yards on 46 kickoff returns and 10.7 yards on 16 punt returners, scoring once on each type of return. His efforts earned him a spot on the Professional Football Writers of America All-Rookie team in 2007.
The 5-11, 185-pound Figurs caught just two passes during his Ravens tenure but showed off his big-play ability on both occasions, turning those two grabs into 79 yards and a touchdown. He also figured into the Ravens' special teams work in other ways, recording five kick-coverage stops last year.
Baltimore released Figurs on September 5 during the final roster cutdown this season but he was claimed off waivers by the Lions the next day. He played in three games for the Lions and caught one pass for seven yards before being released on September 30.
The addition of Figurs gives the Bucs' six receivers, as he joins starters Antonio Bryant and Michael Clayton and reserves Sammie Stroughter, Maurice Stovall and Brian Clark. Figurs could find a solid opportunity in Tampa; the Buccaneers are looking for more production from the receiving corps and may give some of their reserves an expanded opportunity in the coming weeks.
McCoy, a fifth-year linebacker in his second season in Tampa, played in four of the Bucs' first five games, recording three special teams stops. On defense, he served as a reserve at weakside linebacker and even started the season opener when Geno Hayes was briefly benched for his tardy arrival on game day.
Carter and Duncan were both on the practice squad for each of the first five weeks of the season. Dile was on the active roster since opening day but was inactive for each of the first five games.