Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Stick Around

That’s what the Bucs have told several members of their 2000 practice squad, as three more players are signed to ‘futures’ contracts on Tuesday

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As a practice squad player in 2000, quarterback Ted White did whatever was asked to help the Bucs in their weekly preparations

When rookie CB Anthony Midget was released by the Atlanta Falcons on August 27, 2000, he had one day to clear waivers and then he became a man in control of his own immediate destiny.

If he didn't get claimed by another team or signed to an active roster, Midget was a prime candidate for an NFL practice squad. He would be under no obligation to any specific team and would get to pick and choose if more than one team was interested.

A former Tampa Bay Buccaneer gave Midget some advice: If you had the chance to get on the Buccaneers' practice squad, do it. As a defensive back, he was told, you would receive excellent tutelage from position coach Herman Edwards. Midget took that advice when the Bucs came calling and joined the Tampa Bay practice squad the very next day.

In addition to making it easier for teams to field a full practice each week, these five-man squads also allow unproven players a chance to develop and impress a coaching staff. If a practice squad player shows enough promise, he can often find himself promoted to the 53-man active roster.

That was the route taken by rookie WR Frank Murphy and first-year FB Charles Kirby with the Bucs this past fall, and by RB Aaron Stecker before him. Stecker joined the Tampa Bay practice squad midway through the fall of 1999, was re-signed at the end of the season and eventually made the active roster out of training camp in 2000. T DeMarcus Curry followed a similar path.

Most of the five men who ended the 2000 season on the Bucs' practice squad will get the same opportunity. Last Friday, Midget re-signed with the Buccaneers, becoming the first of the five to re-sign. On Tuesday, Tampa Bay announced the re-signing of DT Chartric Darby and QB Ted White, also off the 2000 practice squad. In addition, the club also signed free agent TE Damian Vaughn to a two-year contract.

At the end of each season, members of all 31 practice squads around the league immediately become free agents. However, their former team has an exclusive seven-day period in which to try to re-sign those players before they become available to all teams. The Bucs took advantage of the period to retain, so far, three of those players who proved their worth day by day in practices.

Like Midget, Darby and White each spent the entire season on the Bucs' practice squad.

Darby (6-1, 273) played in all four preseason games with Tampa Bay after completing a stint with the Barcelona Dragons in NFL Europe. With the Bucs, he finished with five tackles, one sack and one forced fumble in the preseason. He played collegiately at South Carolina State.

White (6-2, 225), in his second NFL season, completed 16 of 35 passes for 116 yards and two interceptions this past preseason with the Kansas City Chiefs. He was released by the Chiefs on August 27. White spent the 2000 offseason in NFL Europe with the Frankfurt Galaxy, for whom he completed 73 of 158 passes for 891 yards, five touchdowns and seven interceptions. He played collegiately at Howard University and originally signed with the Chiefs as an undrafted free agent on April 20, 1999.

Vaughn (6-4, 252), an athletic tight end with good speed and a tenacious blocking style, first entered the NFL as Cincinnati's seventh-round draft pick in 1998. He then spent the entire '98 and '99 seasons on the Bengals' practice squad before playing for the Barcelona Dragons in the 2000 NFL Europe League season. The leading NFLEL receiver among tight ends with 40 receptions, Vaughn was also a first-team all-conference selection as a senior at Miami (Ohio).

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