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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tough Cut: Bucs Get to 53

It required some difficult decisions, but the Buccaneers were able to trim their roster to 53 players on Sunday, releasing such men as Brandon Bennett, Danny Farmer and Corey Smith


Despite the release of WR Danny Farmer, the Bucs kept six wide receivers, including Charles Lee and Frank Murphy

Hurricane Frances kept many West Florida residents in their homes this weekend but, unfortunately, couldn't keep the Turk away from his work on Sunday.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made their league-mandated roster cuts on Sunday at 4:00 p.m. ET, the task for which the mythical Turk is famous.

The Bucs trimmed 18 players from the active roster to get from 72 down to 53 (Michael Pittman, who began serving a three-game suspension on Sunday, will not count against the limit). Among the players released were former Florida running back Earnest Graham and recently-signed defensive tackle Oliver Gibson. Two players were not cut but put on reserve lists and are still with the team; Kerry Jenkins was placed on injured reserve due to a neck injury and wide receiver Joe Jurevicius was moved to the reserve/non-football injury list. Jenkins is out for the year; Jurevicius can return after six games.

Even when the weather is perfect, final cutdown day is never particularly popular around the NFL. Many of the players trimmed from the roster on Sunday were men the team would have liked to have kept.

"It will be tough to not keep some players who may have earned their opportunities to be here, but that's been the case every year I've been a coach and on every team I've been on," said Head Coach Jon Gruden. "It's just a very difficult part of the process this time of year."

Here is the Bucs' entire list of roster moves on Sunday:

Released: * RB Brandon Bennett * LB Michael Brown * C Ben Claxton * LB Dustin Cohen * WR Danny Farmer * DT Oliver Gibson * RB Earnest Graham * S Will Hunter * C Scott Jackson * WR Mark Jones * C Austin King * WR Marcus Knight * S Kalvin Pearson * DT Cleveland Pinkney * DE Corey Smith * CB Ronyell WhitakerPlaced on injured reserve: * G Kerry JenkinsPlaced on reserve/non-football injury list: * WR Joe JureviciusOf course, the term 'final cutdown' is a little misleading. The Bucs had to pare their roster to 53 players by the deadline, but that doesn't prevent the team from making additional moves in the coming days, as long as the roster remains at 53. Tweaks to the opening-day roster are actually quite common in the days after the 'final' cut.

Last year, for instance, the Bucs cut down to the limit on August 31, then the next day released one of those 53, tackle Lance Nimmo, and signed veteran TE Tony McGee. Four days later, McGee was released in favor of TE Daniel Wilcox, a strong special-teamer.

In 2002, Tampa Bay formed its 53 on September 1, then made two swaps the next day, waiving linebackers Jack Golden and Justin Smith in order to sign wide receiver Reggie Barlow and claim fullback Darian Barnes off waivers.

There are, however, a number of interesting implications to today's cut list. Among them:

  • Savage Days: The player who overcame the longest odds to make the team is DE Josh Savage, an undrafted free agent out of Utah. Savage was one of just three rookie free agents signed by the Bucs the day after the draft, a much smaller number than usual due to the high number of veteran free agents the team added in March and April. During the preseason, he led the team with three sacks. Savage beat out Corey Smith, who was coming off a fine season in the NFL Europe League, and veteran Reinard Wilson, who was cut last week. Savage joins second-year man Dewayne White as the two backups at end, but fourth-year man Ellis Wyms is more than capable of playing both end and tackle, too. * Stacked Receivers: Even with the cuts of Farmer, Jones and Knight, and the move of Jurevicius to the NFI, the Bucs kept six receivers and expect to get Jurevicius back later. It seemed certain that Joey Galloway, Tim Brown, Michael Clayton and Bill Schroeder would be retained, but Charles Lee and Frank Murphy overcame some odds to force their way onto the roster. Lee missed most of training camp and the first three games of the preseason due to a hamstring strain but turned in a fine performance in his 2004 debut in Houston on Thursday night. Murphy has proved to be lightning on kickoff returns – an area the team vowed to improve in '04 – and has shown marked improvement at the receiver position since his last go-around with the Bucs in 2002. * Backfield Roles: While Pittman is out, the Bucs will make due with two tailbacks and three fullbacks, an indication that the team is confident in Mike Alstott's return to form. Alstott, of course, is another option to carry the ball along with Charlie Garner and Jamel White, while fullbacks Greg Comella and Jameel Cook are more of the blocking/pass-catching variety of fullback. * O-Line Depth: With Jenkins moving to IR and Jason Whittle traded to the Giants last week, the Bucs will go with mostly young players as backups. The Bucs kept nine offensive linemen, a typical number, with the starters set as LT Derrick Deese, LG Matt Stinchcomb, C John Wade, RG Cosey Coleman and RT Todd Steussie. The backup tackles are Kenyatta Walker, who has starting experience on both sides, and Anthony Davis, who was one of the great surprises of the preseason for his strong work at left tackle. The backups at the interior spots are two players who were recently drafted: Sean Mahan (fifth round, 2003) and Jeb Terry (fifth, 2004). Either player is capable of moving to center, as is Stinchcomb. In addition, veteran Matt O'Dwyer, who is on the reserve/physically-unable-to-perform list, could return after six games. * Lots O' Linebackers: The Bucs, who were somewhat deficient in linebacker depth last year, have fixed that problem quite well with the drafting of Marquis Cooper and the free agent additions of Ian Gold, Jeff Gooch and Keith Burns. The Bucs kept all of those players – all of whom who could be a great help on special teams – giving them seven linebackers among their 53 players. They have carried no more than six and sometimes only five over the past two years. Gooch, Burns, Cooper and Ryan Nece will back up starters Gold, Derrick Brooks and Shelton Quarles. In turn, the Bucs kept only four safeties, with John Howell and rookie Will Allen backing up starters Jermaine Phillips and Dwight Smith. * Fourth Corner: There was a heated battle going on for the fourth cornerback spot between Whitaker, Torrie Cox and Corey Ivy. It's not necessarily over, as both Cox and Ivy made the team. In Houston, Cox came into the secondary before Ivy, but both players performed very well. Also, Ivy is a proven asset to the team as a special teamer and Cox looked good in that regard in training camp, as well.
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