The fabled Turk has been visiting some Tampa Bay Bucs on the early side Friday, including a player who had initially figured to have a key role in the pass rush.
The Bucs have parted ways with defensive tackle Amobi Akoye, the former No. 1 draft pick of the Houston Texans, with the deadline for trimming the roster to 53 looming at 9 p.m. Friday.
Okoye hasn’t seen much action in camp due complications from June arthroscopic knee surgery, missing the last three preseason games. And even though he was projected to return in time for the season opener Sept. 9, the Bucs reached an injury settlement with the player signed in the offseason to a one-year, $1.3 million deal.
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Okoye may still play in the season opener — but for the team that employed him last season, the Chicago Bears. The Chicago Sun-Times has reported that Okoye will be re-signing with the Bears, the team he played for as a backup in 2011, amassing four sacks.
Asked about Okoye on Thursday after practice, Schiano perhaps hinted at what was to come Friday. “You try to nudge it along a little bit, never jeopardizing the player’s health. You can be a little more cautious at times. We’ve tried to do that, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to go out there and earn a spot.”
The departure of Okoye leaves the Bucs even thinner at defensive line, especially with an additional cut Friday of behemoth backup Frank Okam. The moves suggest that general manager Mark Dominik will be scouring the waiver wires, hoping to pick up an experienced pass-rusher to fill the role Akoye was expected to play in some capacity.
While Adrian Clayborn and Michael Bennett will start at defensive end, head coach Greg Schiano has said all along that he plans to take a committee approach on the inside. Who’ll rotate in to help out starting tackles Gerald McCoy and Roy Miller remains to be seen, though E.J. Wilson is one possibility.
Linebacker Dekoda Watson has also stepped in to help the pass rush from the end position, allowing Bennett to move into the middle in some situations.
Meanwhile, other Buc cuts so far include running backs Mossis Madu and Robert Hughes, linebacker Rennie Curran and safety Larry Assante.