The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have to find an improved pass rush without the services of second-year defensive end Noah Spence. Darryl Tapp, a 12th-year veteran with 28 career sacks, could be part of the answer.
On Wednesday, the Buccaneers placed Spence on injured reserve due to his second shoulder injury in as many NFL seasons. Taking his spot on the roster and in the defensive line rotation, presumably, is Tapp, who most recently played for the New Orleans Saints last year. The Buccaneers also added some needed depth at cornerback, signing third-year cornerback Deji Olatoye, who was on the Atlanta Falcons' roster to start the season.
There was on open spot on the 53-man roster for Olatoye after Tuesday's waiver of safety Isaiah Johnson. The Buccaneers also had a spot on the practice squad to fill and did so on Wednesday by signing rookie defensive end Marquavius Lewis.
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Spence, a second-round draft pick in 2016, has proved quite tough, wearing a harness and playing through his injuries for most of his rookie season and much of this year as well, but he apparently had become too limited by his shoulder. Spence's one sack in 2017 came in the season-opener against Chicago. Spence did not miss a game in two seasons before landing on injured reserve, recorded 6.5 sacks and four forced fumbles in 22 outings. The Buccaneers had hoped he would be one of their most dangerous edge rushers in 2017 and he was on the field for most passing downs.
Tampa Bay's defense has generated a league-low seven sacks through four games, with only two of those coming from defensive ends. Tapp joins an end rotation that also includes Robert Ayers, who had a sack last Sunday against Buffalo, Will Gholston, Will Clarke and Ryan Russell. Russell has missed the last two games with a shoulder injury of his own.
Tapp (6-1, 270), a former second-round pick of the Seahawks, has played for Seattle (2006-09), Philadelphia (2010-12), Washington (2013), Detroit (2014-15) and New Orleans (2016). He had a career high 7.0 sacks in 2007 and is also considered a very stout end against the run, with 329 career tackles. He has played 162 career NFL games with 38 starts and has 12 forced fumbles, 10 fumble recoveries and 21 passes defensed.
Olatoye (6-1, 197) first entered the league as an undrafted free agent in 2014 with the Baltimore Ravens. He had practice squad stints in Baltimore and Kansas City as a rookie, then spent much of the 2015 campaign on the Dallas Cowboys' practice squad before a November promotion to the active roster. Last year he started the season on the Falcons' practice squad before another November promotion, and he subsequently made Atlanta's roster to start this year before being waived on Sept. 22. Overall, he has played in 12 regular-season games with two starts, recording 17 tackles, one interception and four passes defensed.
The Buccaneers are potentially in need of additional cornerback depth with Robert McClain currently in the NFL's concussion protocol.
Lewis (6-4, 278) signed with the Buffalo Bills as an undrafted free agent this past spring. He was on Buffalo's practice squad before being released last week. Lewis played his college ball at South Carolina.