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Roster Tweaks: Williams to IR, Douglas Re-Signed

On Tuesday, the Bucs made a series of roster moves, rare in this year’s camp, including a trip to injured reserve for TE T.J. Williams and the return of FB Robert Douglas


TE T.J. Williams will spend his rookie season on injured reserve thanks to an Achilles tendon injury

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have had a relatively injury-free training camp and almost no roster additions or deletions during their three weeks in Central Florida. However, on Tuesday the team announced a trio of personnel moves that are at least partially tied to injuries.

The roster changes were as follows: * Tight end Leonard Stephens was released. * Rookie tight end T.J. Williams was signed and then placed on injured reserve. * Fullback Robert Douglas was re-signed.Douglas, who was with the Bucs during most of the offseason but cut three days before the beginning of training camp, essentially took Stephens' spot on the roster. However, the team first used that opening to take care of Williams' situation.

Williams' trip to IR had been expected for some time, as he tore an Achilles tendon in June, during the Bucs' last workout of the offseason, but there was no hurry to make the move. The team was also under less pressure to get the rookie's first contract finalized, as he obviously was not going to participate in training camp.

However, Williams did have to be signed before he could be moved to injured reserve, which means the Bucs needed to find a spot on the 80-man camp roster for him for at least one day. That was accomplished with the release of Stephens. Then, after Williams spent his 24 hours on the roster and was placed on IR, the spot was opened again for the return of Douglas.

Williams (6-3, 258) was the seventh player drafted by the Buccaneers in April, the second of two sixth-round draft picks and the 202nd selection overall. At North Carolina State, he was a productive pass-catcher, twice leading the Wolfpack in single-season receptions and finishing with 98 catches for 1,283 yards. He finished his collegiate career with more receptions than any other tight end in NC State history.

Williams' placement on injured reserve means he will not be eligible to return to action at any point this season, though the Bucs hope to resume his development next spring.

The decision to bring Douglas back may also be indirectly related to minor injuries along the roster. Fullback Carey Davis has recently been worked heavily into the tailback rotation, even getting 14 carries for 67 yards in the preseason opener last Friday. If that continues, Douglas can assume some of the fullback reps that Davis will be giving up.

Douglas is a tall fullback, standing 6-2 and weighing 240 pounds. He broke into the league last year as an undrafted free agent with the Tennessee Titans, a natural destination for a collegiate standout at Memphis.

Douglas caught a bit of misfortune early, however, fracturing his left fibula in June, a month before the Titans would report to camp. That prompted the Titans to put him on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list as camp opened, and they later released him on September 4.

Douglas was back to health by then, though, and the Titans quickly signed him back to their practice squad. He stayed on that unit for two months before being released on November 1. Several teams, including the Buccaneers in late November, took the opportunity to bring Douglas in for a tryout after he was let go by Tennessee, and the Houston Texans eventually added him to their practice squad for the last two weeks of the season. Of course, practice squad contracts expire at the end of the season, and when he became a free agent he quickly hooked on with the Buccaneers. He was later released on July 24 as the Bucs cleared roster space for the draft choices as they signed their first contracts.

Stephens, who previously played for the Detroit Lions and Washington Redskins, was just added to the Bucs' camp roster last Wednesday, in just the second round of maneuvers the team had made during their time at Disney. He took the spot opened by the release of wide receiver Terrence Stubbs. The only other roster move the Bucs have made since the start of camp was a switch at cornerback 10 days ago, releasing Reuben Houston and re-signing Dwight Ellick, another player cut just before camp.

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