Much as they did against New Orleans in Week Six, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will ask Frank Okam to help solve a sudden depth shortage at defensive tackle for the final three weeks of the 2011 campaign.
On Monday, the Buccaneers promoted Okam back to the active roster from their own practice squad, where the fourth-year defensive lineman had spent the last three weeks. Okam is needed again after the team placed defensive tackle John McCargo on injured reserve Monday due to a triceps injury.
Tampa Bay also moved linebacker Jacob Cutrera to I.R. due to a head injury, creating an additional opening on the 53-man roster. Additionally, running back Nic Grigsby was waived from the practice squad; that, plus Okam's promotion and last Friday's elevation of safety Ahmad Black to the active roster leaves the team with three practice squad spots that will likely be filled before the start of practice on Wednesday.
Okam (6-5, 350) first joined the Buccaneers as a midseason free agent signing in 2010 after he had been released by his original NFL team, the Houston Texans. He was initially added to Tampa Bay's practice squad on November 17 but got the call up to the 53-man roster one week later. Following the loss of defensive tackle Gerald McCoy to injured reserve, Okam played in and started the Bucs' final three games, registering 15 tackles, two tackles for loss and a fumble recovery.
Okam made the Bucs' roster again to begin the 2011 season and saw action in six of the first seven games, including a start against the Saints after McCoy once again landed on injured reserve. Okam had four tackles in that game, a 26-20 Buccaneers victory, and overall has contributed 15 stops an done quarterback pressure this season.
A calf injury slowed Okam in the weeks that followed and he was inactive for three consecutive games before being released when the team signed defensive end Daniel Te'o-Nesheim off Philadelphia's practice squad on November 22. The Bucs immediately signed Okam back to their practice squad after he had cleared waivers and he has since recovered from his calf injury to resume practicing.
McCargo has played in the last four games since being re-signed on November 14. He had previously been signed by the Buccaneers during the preseason and again in early November, but was subsequently released both times. In the last four games, however, he has served as part of the team's DT rotation and has contributed eight tackles. McCargo spent his first five NFL seasons with the Buffalo Bills after they drafted him with the 26th overall selection in 2006, appearing in 40 games and recording 47 tackles, 2.5 sacks, one forced fumble and five passes defensed.
Cutrera joined the Buccaneers on October 11 when the team signed him off Jacksonville's practice squad. He had joined the Jaguars as an undrafted free agent out of LSU in 2010 and had split his rookie season between Jacksonville's practice squad and active roster. After joining the Buccaneers in 2011, he played in the next eight games and pitched in with three special teams tackles.