From 68 To 87April 4th, 2014
One of the great stories on the Bucs roster lies with the guy former Bucs tight end Anthony Becht says is “tough as nails” and will “punch you in the mouth.”
Joe had to dig a little deeper, and Joe’s glad he did.
Back in February, the Bucs signed tight end Steve Maneri, who was walking the streets after the Bears cut him in October. He was a Chicago casualty when the Bears needed a roster spot after Jay Cutler got hurt.
Maneri, who’s listed as a gargantuan tight end at 6-7, 280, has ties to Bucs general manager Jason Licht. In 2010, Maneri was an undrafted tight end out of Temple University that the Texans tried to beef up and convert into an offensive tackle. The plan was working. Later that year, Bill Belicheat and Licht, who was then New England’s director of pro personnel, snatched up Maneri and had him on their active roster as a backup left tackle before he was cut and put on the Pats’ practice squad.
Maneri landed in Kansas City following Pats training camp the following season. He made the Chiefs roster as an O-linemen, and the Chiefs decided to convert him back to tight end in 2012. Three years as a lineman and he was asked to cut weight and catch the football.
“When they decided I would be an NFL offensive tackle I was about 265 pounds,” Maneri told the Chiefs official website in 2012, the season after he played with Becht. “Gaining 30 pounds wasn’t easy, but taking the weight off was really easy. I’m naturally a thinner type of person. It just came right off.”
Maintaining a 300-pound frame was a constant struggle for Maneri. One of the ways he kept on the weight was by frequenting his neighborhood Applebee’s to down the “2 for $20” special by himself (that’s two full entrees and an appetizer for $20 if you haven’t seen the commercials).
“I just started eating like a normal person again and the weight came right off,” Maneri said.
Maneri actually signed a decent free agent contract with the Bears last year and started a game before he got cut in midseason.
Entering his fifth year in the league, it’s unclear whether Maneri is in the Bucs’ plans as a tight end, or as an offensive lineman. Perhaps he’s been stuffing his face for the past six weeks to bulk up?
Regardless, Maneri is here to block. Brandon Myers and Tim Wright are not blockers, and the Bucs likely want at least one blocking tight end. A guy with Maneri’s versatility, size and durability might just give him a leg up on Luke Stocker and Tom Crabtree.