Former Miami TE Keith Heinrich has played in 17 NFL games with Cleveland and Carolina
With Dave Moore unavailable to practice on Wednesday due to his rib injury, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made not one but two moves to replace his on-field contributions.
At least, that's one possible interpretation of the Bucs' practice squad transactions on Wednesday morning. The team brought in two new players for that eight-man unit: long-snapper Andrew Economos and tight end Keith Heinrich.
To make room for those additions, the Bucs released fullback Rick Razzano. Tampa Bay already had one open spot on the squad thanks to last weekend's promotion of offensive lineman Scott Jackson to the active roster.
Presumably, Economos can take over Moore's long-snapping duties on the practice field, at least for now. After Moore was injured in the Bucs' season opener against Baltimore on Sunday, the Bucs quickly conducted a series of tryouts with long-snappers, including Economos, the former Jacksonville Jaguar. After practice on Wednesday, Head Coach Jon Gruden also reiterated that tight end Doug Jolley as a possible replacement for Moore if the veteran snapper is not ready to play by Sunday. Jolley handled the snapping duties in the opener after Moore sustained his injury.
"We have a guy who could potentially [fill in for Moore]," said Gruden of the addition of Economos. "We're hopeful and optimistic that Dave will play, but he is questionable. Doug Jolley is a guy who we think can snap but we'll update you as the week unfolds."
Economos (6-1, 250) first entered the league as an undrafted free agent with the Jaguars in 2005. He spent the entire 2005 season on Jacksonville's practice squad and went to camp with the team again this summer before being waived on September 2. In both cases, the Jaguars chose to stick with Joe Zelenka, considered one of the best long-snappers in the game.
Economos handled the long-snapping duties for three seasons at Georgia Tech, playing in 39 games and contributing 19 special teams tackles. He hails from Atlanta, Georgia.
Heinrich, who played against the Buccaneers less than a month ago as a member of the Miami Dolphins, will help with practice-field reps at tight end. The 6-5, 250-pound Heinrich, who has been in the league since 2002, has significant regular-season experience, having appeared in 18 games and made three starts with Carolina and Cleveland. A variety of unrelated injuries have limited three of his first four seasons.
Carolina brought the former Sam Houston State standout into the NFL as a sixth-round draft choice in 2002. He made the team and appeared in the first four games, primarily on special teams, before landing on injured reserve with a foot ailment.
The following summer, Carolina waived Heinrich and he was immediately snapped off waivers by the Cleveland Browns. He actually started that season on Cleveland's practice squad but was signed back to the 53-man roster in November and went on to appear in seven games with three starts. During that span, Heinrich caught eight passes for 64 yards and two touchdowns.
The following year, Heinrich started the year on the reserve/physically unable to perform list with an ankle injury, then was activated in time to appear in seven more games, contributing one catch for one yard. His service from 2002-05 did qualify him as an unrestricted free agent this past offseason and he signed with the Miami Dolphins. He caught one 14-yard pass for the Dolphins during the preseason and was waived on the final cutdown to 53 on September 2.
At Sam Houston State, Heinrich started out as a member of the football, basketball and baseball teams before dropping baseball to concentrate on spring football practices. He caught 89 passes for 1,050 yards and nine touchdowns in his four years on the gridiron and was a Division I-AA All-America choice as a senior. Heinrich hails from Tomball, Texas, where he played quarterback in his only season on the football team.