The Tampa Bay Buccaneers re-signed wide receiver Chas Gessner on Tuesday, according to a league source. They may also be looking for a new kickoff returner, as Chad Owens and Bethel Johnson tried out for the Bucs at their practice facility.
The Bucs need a new returner because they placed Torrie Cox on injured reserve on Tuesday with a knee injury.
Tampa Bay also placed wide receiver Chad Lucas on waivers, terminated wide receiver Derrick Hamilton's practice squad contract and signed cornerback Darrell Hunter to the practice squad.
By moving Cox to IR and putting Lucas on waivers, the Buccaneers opened up two roster spots, so another signing could come later this week.
Cox suffered a knee injury against Jacksonville on Sunday that apparently will keep him out for the rest of the season. Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden did not elaborate on the seriousness of Cox's injury on Monday. But Cox took over kickoff return duties from Mark Jones, who suffered a season-ending knee injury against Detroit two games ago.
Gessner was part of the Bucs' final cuts after the preseason, but he had a solid preseason with Tampa Bay for the second straight year. He was the fourth-leading receiver in preseason, as he caught six passes for 83 yards.
Gessner, who has spent the past two training camps in Tampa Bay, may be more comfortable with Tampa Bay's offensive schemes than Lucas. The Bucs may also feel they need another receiver until Michael Clayton is ready to resume play after an ankle injury.
But Gessner may not be able to help the Buccaneers in a critical area — kickoff returns. That's why the Bucs took a look at Owens and Johnson.
Owens was cut by the Buccaneers midway through the preseason. He returned four kickoffs for a 23.5-yard average, and three punts for an 8.0-yard average. He is familiar with special teams coordinator Richard Bisaccia's blocking schemes and could make a solid transition with the bye week coming up next week.
Johnson has a Super Bowl ring from his time with New England, where he was primarily a kickoff returner. His career average of 24.6 yards includes two touchdowns.
Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for BucsBlitz.com and the Charlotte Sun-Herald in Port Charlotte, Fla. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association and has won national awards for his Buccaneers coverage from the PFWA, the National Newspaper Association and the Associated Press Sports Editors. He is also a contributor to the Scot Brantley Show from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WHBO 1470-AM in Tampa-Clearwater.