WR Mario Urrutia caught seven passes for 85 yards during the 2009 preseason
Players have come and gone on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' always-fluid practice squad roster since the beginning of the 2009 season, but wide receiver Mario Urrutia has held down one of those eight spots since the beginning. That nearly complete season of service paid off on Monday when Urrutia was signed to the Buccaneers' 53-man active roster.
Urrutia takes the spot vacated by rookie wide receiver Sammie Stroughter, who was placed on injured reserve due to a foot fracture suffered Sunday in Seattle.
Like Stroughter, Urrutia entered the NFL as a seventh-round draft pick, going 246th overall to the Cincinnati Bengals in 2008. He spent his rookie campaign on the Bengals' practice squad, then began training camp this summer with the New York Jets. The Bucs signed him on August 7, 2009, shortly after he was released by the Jets, and Urrutia quickly made a good impression on Tampa Bay's practice field.
The 6-6, 232-pound Urrutia obviously has elite size and he showed an impressive burst during his first few Buccaneer practices in camp. He displayed promise during the Bucs' preseason games, as well, catching seven passes for 85 yards to rank fourth on the team in both categories.
At Louisville, Urrutia appeared in 34 games with 23 starts and recorded the sixth-most receiving yards (2,271) and touchdown receptions (16) in school history despite being limited by injury in his senior year.
The swap of Urrutia for Stroughter keeps the Bucs' receiving corps on the active roster at seven players, though three of those have yet to play an offensive snap for the team in the regular season – Urrutia, Yamon Figurs and Terrence Nunn. In addition, veteran Michael Clayton has missed the last three games with a knee injury, elevating Maurice Stovall into the starting lineup. The most pressing need in the passing game would appear to be to identify a new primary slot receiver to replace Stroughter. Candidates include the above players plus Brian Clark, Stovall if Clayton returns to action and now Urrutia.