Wide receiver/kick returner Yamon Figurs nearly lost his job last week after a disappointing game against the Jets, but his time with the Buccaneers ended when he was released Tuesday.
He was replaced by Micheal Spurlock, a wide receiver/kick returner who was released by the 49ers earlier this season.
On Dec. 13, Figurs filled in for kick returner Clifton Smith, who was placed on injured reserve after suffering his second concussion. He returned five kickoffs for 105 yards, a 21-yard average, in a 26-6 loss to New York. He also returned two punts for 21 yards.
Those numbers are well below what the Bucs felt they should've gotten out of their return game that day. In fact, the Bucs considered releasing Figurs last week but weren't sure of the status of rookie kick returner Sammie Stroughter.
Coincidentally, Stroughter suffered a broken foot against the Seahawks on Sunday and was placed on injured reserve. But special teams coach Richard Bisaccia feels more comfortable with Spurlock than with Figurs.
Spurlock, 26, had the first kickoff-return touchdown in franchise history on Dec. 16, 2007, against the Falcons. He also could contribute more as a receiver than Figurs.
The Bucs' return game has been one of the best in the NFL this season. Smith, a Pro Bowl selection a year ago, was averaging 29.1 yards on 11 kickoff returns this season, including an 83-yarder.
Stroughter proved to be equally effective. He filled in for Smith against Carolina and returned a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown. His 11 kickoff returns averaged 29.5, and he had 12 punt returns for a 9.9-yard average.
--QB Josh Freeman has had one game this season in which has hasn't thrown at least one interception.
--RB Derrick Ward is coming off a season high 67-yard rushing effort against Seattle, when he had a season-high 19 carries.
--FB Chris Pressley has now played in five NFL games, starting two for the Bucs this season. He could see more action as the team returns to a power running game.
--TE Kellen Winslow needs 34 yards receiving to tie Jimmie Giles for the most receiving yards by a Bucs tight end in a season. Giles had 786 receiving yards in 1981.
--S Tanard Jackson, who was suspended for the first four games of the season, has four interceptions, which ranks second on the team behind Aqib Talib's total of five.
--CB Elbert Mack is third on the Bucs with three interceptions this season, including two last Sunday at Seattle.
--LB Barrett Ruud leads the Bucs in tackles with 179.
--PK Conner Barth is 11-for-16 in field-goal attempts this season and has stabilized the kicking situation for the Bucs.