Bucs lose rights to 5 practice squad players

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers gave up the rights to five practice squad players earlier this week, including a pair of players that have NFL experience on active rosters.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost the rights to five practice squad players earlier this week after failing to tender them free-agent contract offers.

WR Taye Biddle of Mississippi, T Ryan Gibbons of Northeastern, TE Keith Heinrich of Sam Houston State, WR Julius McClellan of North Carolina Central and T Alan Reuber of Texas A&M are all now free agents.

The Buccaneers had a week from the end of their season to make a contract offer to all of their practice squad players or risk losing them to the open market.

Biddle and Heinrich are the most visible of the five. The Buccaneers claimed Biddle of waivers on Sept. 2 and saw him as a possible answer at kick returner, where he had some experience during his 2006 rookie season in Carolina. But two days later, after the Bucs signed LB Jeremiah Trotter, Biddle was released and signed to the practice squad on Sept. 6, where he remained for the entire season.

Heinrich (6-foot-6, 255), a five-year veteran, actually saw some field time in 2007, making four appearances in uniform during the regular season. He spent the first six weeks of the season on the practice squad before being signed to the active roster before the Bucs' loss to Detroit on Oct. 21. He played three games, was inactive for the next four and made his final regular-season appearance on Dec. 16 vs. Atlanta.

Tampa Bay released him on Dec. 26 and signed him to the practice squad the same day.

Heinrich's only significant playing time came in Cleveland in 2003. The Browns signed him to the active roster on Nov. 13. He appeared in seven games, including three starting assignments at HB and totaled 8 receptions for 64 yards (8.0 avg.), including 2 touchdowns.

Gibbons (6-6, 329), a first-year player, came to Tampa Bay on Oct. 3 as a practice squad signee and was released on Nov. 21.

McClellan went to the Carolina Panthers as an undrafted free agent this spring. He signed with the Bucs on Dec. 26 after Maurice Stovall's season-ending injury.

Reuber, a second-year pro, entered the NFL in 2004 as an undrafted free agent signed by Minnesota. He also played with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for BucsBlitz.com and the Charlotte Sun-Herald in Port Charlotte, Fla. An award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers Association, he appears frequently on Scot Brantley Show from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WHBO 1470-AM in Tampa-Clearwater.

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