Bucs Cut Roster Down To 53

September 2 - There were a few surprises at One Buccaneer Place as the Bucs trimmed their roster down to 53 on Sunday. Among them was the release of OT George Hegamin, keeping four QBs on the roster, the Bucs keeping only two TEs and four CBs, especially with the foot injury to CB Dwight Smith, which will sideline him for 2-3 weeks.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a few surprises in store for NFL cutdown day, a day in which all teams are required to trim their rosters down to 53 players. The Bucs released 17 players and put an 18th - backup guard Kendall Mack - on injured reserve with a season-ending triceps injury.

Here are the Bucs' 17 roster cuts:

P Andrew Bayes
G Wilbert Brown
WR Gerald Harris
OT George Hegamin
C/G Leon Hires
CB Corey Ivy
WR Khori Ivy
DT Terry Jolly
WR/KR Robert Kilow
SS Than Merrill
TE Randy Palmer
RB Pepe Pearson
LB Al Rice
TE Mike Roberg
DE Joe Tafoya (injury settlement)
LB Byron Thweatt
TE Damian Vaughn

One of the biggest surprises was the team releasing veteran offensive tackle George Hegamin and keeping the unproven DeMarcus Curry, who was flagged for false starts three times in the preseason. Hegamin, who was scheduled to have a salary cap value of $1 million this season, was the only established veteran to be waived.

Defensive end Ron Warner and linebacker Marq Cerqua were the only undrafted free agents to make the team.

Another surprising cut was center Leon Hires. With starting center Jeff Christy expected to be out for 1-2 more weeks with an MCL sprain, the team will go with Todd Washington as the starter without a reserve center against Dallas. The team also decided to keep fifth-round draft pick Russ Hochstein to be the backup guard over Wilbert Brown, although Hochstein has missed most of the preseason with a broken hand and foot.

The release of Corey Ivy leaves the Bucs' perilously thin at cornerback to start the season. Donnie Abraham, Ronde Barber and Brian Kelly are healthy, but they are the only ones. Rookie Dwight Smith has a foot sprain and is expected to miss 2-3 weeks. Ivy had a solid preseason and may be a practice squad candidate. The team might do the same with the other Khori Ivy (no relation), who played wide receiver, or kick returner Robert Kilow.

Another surprise was the release of three tight ends: Damian Vaughn, Randy Palmer and Mike Roberg. That leaves the Bucs with just two tight ends in Dave Moore and Todd Yoder. The Bucs were not happy with the play of the tight ends in camp and will be looking at the waiver wire to add another one. If the Bucs keep a tight end on the practice squad it might be Vaughn, who looked the most impressive of the three players who were released.

But perhaps the biggest surprise was not who was cut, but that the team ended up keeping four quarterbacks. There was some discussion among the Bucs brass that the team would place Ryan Leaf on injured reserve to help the team's roster situation. Leaf has an ailing right wrist and may need offseason surgery to correct the problem. The fact that Leaf wound up on the injured list for the Atlanta Falcons game added to the speculation.

The team wanted to keep last year's No. 3 quarterback Joe Hamilton, but was enamored with Leaf's potential enough to keep him on the roster and continue his development, at least for the time being. The Bucs will likely have to add another tight end to the roster and some point in time and there's a chance Leaf could still be placed on injured reserve, especially if the condition of his wrist deteriorates.

The Bucs can establish a five-man practice squad on Monday after 4:00 p.m.


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