The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' cornerback competition got another participant on Tuesday. Second-year player Derrick Roberson passed a preseason physical and was thus removed from the active/physically-unable-to-perform (PUP) list. Roberson is now free to practice with the rest of the team.
Roberson was placed on the PUP list on July 26, the day the team reported for its 2012 training camp, due to a hamstring injury. He still counted against the 90-man camp roster while on the list, but he was not eligible to practice until he had recovered sufficiently to pass a physical. Roberson returned to the practice field on Wednesday morning as the Buccaneers got back to action after Tuesday's day off for the players.
Defensive end Da'Quan Bowers remains on the active/PUP list due to the Achilles tendon injury he suffered in May, and the subsequent reparative surgery. He is expected to miss a significant portion of the 2012 regular season. In addition, starting left tackle Donald Penn is currently on the active/non-football-injury list due to a calf strain he sustained during a pre-camp workout in California.
The main purpose of placing a player on the active/PUP list is to establish eventual eligibility for the reserve/PUP list. If an active/PUP player is still not physically cleared by the end of the preseason, he can be transferred to the reserve/PUP list and will then be unable to practice or play with the team during the first six weeks of the season. Obviously, this is a potential path for the Buccaneers to take with Bowers, but Roberson has avoided that eventuality and can now take part in the battle for jobs in the Bucs' secondary.
That battle took on added significance after fourth-year man E.J. Biggers, who was taking the majority of the first-team nickel back snaps, was injured during the first practice of training camp. Biggers sustained a foot injury on Friday, July 27 and is expected to miss several weeks. Roberson does have NFL regular-season experience, having played in six games with the Buccaneers in 2009 and two games with the Cleveland Browns in 2010.
Roberson (5-10, 182) originally came to the Buccaneers in September of '09, first joining the practice squad and then getting a promotion to the active roster on October 17. In his six games during that first stint in Tampa, he pitched in with three tackles and three passes defensed.
Roberson played his college football at Rutgers under current Buccaneers Head Coach Greg Schiano. He entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with Houston in 2007 and spent time on practice squads in Houston, Baltimore and Minnesota over the next two seasons. After his action with Tampa Bay in 2009, he went to camp with the Buccaneers again in 2010 but was released in the final cuts, ending up in Cleveland for roughly half of that season. Roberson rejoined the Buccaneers this past May.