DT Keith Wright spent three weeks on the Bucs' practice squad before getting a promotion on Friday
The late-season reworking of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' defensive line continued on Friday, as the team promoted first-year defensive tackle Keith Wright from the practice squad, released rookie defensive tackle Jon Bradley and signed second-year defensive end Corey Smith to the practice squad.
Earlier in the week, the Bucs revealed that Greg Spires, who started the first 13 games of the season – and all but one game over the past three years – at left end, would open this Sunday's game at under tackle. That cleared the way for second-year defensive end Dewayne White, who has been impressively productive filling in at defensive tackle, to start at his natural position, and for Chidi Ahanotu, who started the last five games at under tackle, to move back to the outside as well.
Now the Bucs will give Wright a shot at the reserve defensive tackle role that has been filled by Bradley for the last six weeks, ever since Bradley was promoted from the practice squad in the wake of Anthony McFarland's shoulder injury.
If that sounds like an awful lot of maneuvering, it is. Season-ending injuries to three tackles – McFarland, Ellis Wyms and Damian Gregory – have forced the Bucs to try new players and familiar players at new positions for most of the season's second half. In fact, if and when Wright gets into a game, he will be the 12th defensive lineman to see action for Tampa Bay this season.
Wright first joined the team just three weeks ago, when he was signed to the practice squad upon the promotion of running back Ian Smart. Wright was originally a sixth-round draft choice of the Houston Texans in 2003, and he spent the first half of this season on the Indianapolis Colts' active roster, though he did not appear in a game.
The 6-2, 275-pound Wright was a two-year standout at Missouri after transferring from Sacramento City College, where he played defensive end. As a Tiger, he played in 23 games and racked up eight sacks and 34 tackles for loss. Quick off the snap and possessed of good closing speed, Wright had six sacks in his senior season.
Bradley appeared in six games and contributed six tackles and a sack. He too started out on the Bucs' practice squad but spent only one week there before being signed to the active roster on Nov. 13. Bradley first entered the league this past spring as an undrafted free agent with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Smith makes a return trip to the practice squad, where he spent the first six weeks of this season, as well as part of 2003. He was promoted to the active roster on Nov. 6 and went on to see action in four games, contributing three tackles. He was inactive for the last three contests, however, as the Bucs' put rookie Josh Savage in the rotation. Earlier this week, the Bucs released Smith in order to sign tight end Billy Baber.
Smith also saw brief action for the Buccaneers in each of the past two seasons, playing one game in 2003 and six in 2002. In '02, he had two tackles and a sack before landing on injured reserve with a knee injury suffered on the practice field. This past spring, Smith played in the NFL Europe League and helped the Berlin Thunder win World Bowl XII, recording 7.5 sacks during the season.