Bucs release DTs Okoye and Okam in final cuts
TAMPA, Fla. (AP)
The team announced Friday night that Okoye, a former first-round pick of the Houston Texans who played for the Chicago Bears last year, had reached an injury settlement. Okam was a fifth-year pro who appeared in 12 games over the past two seasons.
Okoye signed a one-year, $2 million contract during the offseason and had arthroscopic knee surgery in June. Releasing him and Okam - along with a July trade that sent third-year pro Brian Price to the Bears - leaves first-year coach Greg Schiano without much experienced depth on the defensive line.
Receivers Jordan Shipley, signed late in training camp after being released by Cincinnati, was among 21 players who were waived.
Safeties Larry Asante and Sean Baker, receivers Tiquan Underwood and Landon Cox, linebackers Rennie Curran and Jacob Cutrera, tight ends Drake Dunsmore and Zack Pianalto, kicker Kai Forbath, tackle Jermarcus Hardrick, running backs Mossis Madu and Robert Hughes, fullback Cody Johnson, defensive tackles Jordan Nix and Teryl White, center Moe Petrus, quarterback Brett Ratliff, cornerback James Rogers and defensive lineman E.J. Wilson were waived.
Guard Desmond Wynn was waived injured.
Schiano is making the transition to the NFL after spending the past 11 seasons at Rutgers. Although trimming the roster to 75 and then 53 players was a new experience for him as a head coach, he previously had been exposed to the process as an assistant.
''There's nothing fun about it, there's nothing happy about it but it's part of the business. It's part of pro football. I think everybody understands that when they get into it,'' Schiano said earlier in the week .
''I've been very clear that we have to find the best 53 guys for the Buccaneers. That may not be the best 53 guys for some other team but the best for this team. I made it clear what my expectations were and what my criteria were to be part of that 53.''
Barring an unexpected change to the depth chart, the Bucs will enter the Sept. 9 season opener against Carolina with six new starters on offense, including first-round draft pick Doug Martin at running back.
Safety Mark Barron, the seventh overall selection in the draft, and second-round linebacker Lavonte David have earned starting jobs on a defense that will feature four players either new to the roster and playing a different position.
''Lavonte has done a nice job. He's come in here, worked very hard. He's been no nonsense, all business and secured a starting job. ... I think he's made plays in the preseason,'' Schiano said. ''He's got a long way to go. He's just scratching the surface of what he can be, but I think we drafted him with the thought he could come in here and help and I'm glad he has so far. He's an important guy.''
As a top 10 pick, Barron was penciled into the lineup the night of the draft. Martin was the 31st pick in the opening round and put together a solid preseason to beat out third-year pro LeGarrette Blount - a 1,000-yard rusher as an undrafted rookie - to be the starting running back.
Schiano said Blount's attitude remains positive, despite being disappointed.
''He's about this team. He's about us winning,'' Schiano said. ''At the very beginning, I sat them both down and told them what the deal was and they knew it.
''When you watch the tape, and LeGarrette is a smart guy, he sees that he got outperformed. But that doesn't mean that's it,'' the coach added. ''As I've told him, that can go the other way if you outperform him. We don't hand jobs and sign them over. It's always competition around here, continual. I think Doug's done a great job. That's why he has the No. 1 seat, but he's got to work to keep it.''
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