The Tampa Bay Buccaneers reached their 53-man roster limit Saturday, but not without a late surprise.
Wide receiver Solomon Patton, who led the team in returns with 14 throughout the preseason (six on punts and eight on kickoffs), was thought to be the team’s answer as a return man after a solid preseason. But the Florida product found himself among the final eight cuts.
Along with Patton, those waived were Cameron Brate, running back Jeff Demps, quarterback Mike Kafka, linebacker Brandon Magee and defensive tackle Matthew Masifilo. Meanwhile, defensive lineman Ronald Talley and safety Major Wright were released.
The cuts Saturday leave the Bucs with 10 offensive linemen, nine defensive linemen, six cornerbacks, six wide receivers, five running backs, five linebackers, four safeties, three tight ends, three specialists and two quarterbacks. The breakdown, especially with the number of defensive linemen, shows coach Lovie Smith’s preference to build depth on the defensive line.
Adjustments could be made. The Bucs, who start against the Carolina Panthers on Sept. 7 at Raymond James Stadium, will likely tinker with their roster before opening the regular season.
"There are players that may end up on our 53-man active roster that aren’t here right now," Smith said earlier this week, "and I’ll say every year there have been a few guys that it has turned out that way."
Outside of Patton, there weren’t many surprises in the final round of cuts. Wright, a fifth-year veteran who played for the Chicago Bears before arriving in Tampa, was signed as a free agent in April and appeared to be part of Smith’s early vision to shape the Bucs. Still, Tampa Bay appears set at the position with Dashon Goldson, Mark Barron, Bradley McDougald and Keith Tandy.
With Solomon being cut, Russell Shepard figures to receive many looks as a returner on special teams in addition to his duties as a wide receiver. Defensive end Da’Quan Bowers, a former second-round pick who has been disappointing throughout most of his three-year career, made the team despite being considered by many to be on the bubble.