Bubble Takes Shape

August 25th, 2015
Bucs rookie WR Kenny Bell has no catches this preseason

Bucs rookie WR Kenny Bell has no catches this preseason

Who’s going to make the final roster? Who’s on the bubble? Who’s getting noticed?

With two preseason games in the books, the bubble is taking shape.

And like every year, the backbone of the bubble is injuries.

A few examples: Demar Dotson is hurt but expected to return in October. He’ll eat a roster spot, so the Bucs likely will have to carry an extra offensive lineman. Gosder Cherilus, last week’s free agent signing at right tackle, isn’t even in game shape yet. Before yesterday’s preseason game, Lovie took to the WDAE-AM 620 radio airwaves and declared that Cherilus needs more time to get ready physically and is learning the playbook. The Bucs might even need two more linemen than usual.

Tampa Bay has injuries on the defensive line with ends Jacquies Smith and T.J Fatinikun. The returning sacks leader, Smith, isn’t going anywhere. And Lovie often shares man love for Fatinikun. Joe is confident those guys will make the roster, but the Bucs will be sure to keep extra bodies around.

Will Akeem Spence, out with a back injury, get sent to injured reserve?

Lovie handpicked safety Chris Conte in free agency, and he’s been out all summer with a bad hamstring. Would Lovie cut him?

Hardly a popular name, but linebacker Orie Lemon was a contributor last year. He’s banged up and the Bucs might not be so quick to dump him on the street. That might require more depth at linebacker.

Tight end Tim Wright looks be a luxury at this point. Luke Stocker, because of his special teams prowess and fullback ability, isn’t going anywhere. Brandon Myers can catch the ball and has the most tight end experience on the roster. And the regime is committed to Austin Seferian-Jenkins.

How many receivers will the Bucs keep? Louis Murphy and Russell Shepard are locks right now as No. 3 and No 4 receivers, respectively. Rookies Kenny Bell and Kaelin Clay appear to be shoe-ins for the roster, but it sure would help them to get noticed. Bell has zero catches this preseason. The regime likes undrafted rookie Rannell Hall, too. Clay was better on punt return duty last night — the reason he was drafted — but not enough to prevent anyone from wondering whether Bobby Rainey would be just as good.

With two more preseason games, there will be more injuries. That’s the sad reality. Those injuries will either muddy the picture or make decisions much easier.

Joe can’t close this without a shout out to running back Mike James. The kid’s a good, versatile football player. Can the Bucs afford to cut any of those?

43 Responses to “Bubble Takes Shape”

  1. Ray Rice Says:

    Mike James better not get cut!

  2. DB55 Says:

    Tough decisions ahead. How about bowers clogging up the middle and causing the safety? The kid looks inspired.

  3. Getaclue Says:

    We haven’t seen the kid from hAwaii get a carry we drafted either , was hoping to see him in that goal line situation last night

  4. DallasBuc Says:

    Kenny Bell is an overrated liability when the game clock is running. Charles Sims is below average. Both players will make it though because of egos of the people running this team. Rannell Hall makes plays when given the opportunity but watch him get cut

  5. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    We are loaded at WR……no room for Herron, Hall or Humphries…..bad to have a name beginning in H…..

    Not certain Tim Wright will make the team……Bowers will have an uphill climb.

  6. DallasBuc Says:

    To reiterate…Kenny Bell and Charles Sims suck!

  7. Bucco Brice Says:

    ditto on James, he’s the #2 back!…trade Sims – the dancing deer. Lemon is a keeper for sure. Need to see others in the return game maybe. Clay has done squat. 4 TEs? Brate has looked good.

  8. R.O. Says:

    I agree on both K Bell and C Sims.. Both may well make the team but not deserved in my opinion.

  9. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    EDS & Koenen are $7 mil non-guaranteed that could both be cut……watch that waiver-wire!!!

  10. Dusthty Rhothdes Says:

    Charles Sims another horrible personnel decision for this team and I agree on Kenny Bell if you evaluate the roster and free agents, they could have grabbed a need at this spot like along the OL….

  11. BucFan20 Says:

    No room for D. Brown. Can’t run past his own shoelaces anyway.

  12. Bucco Brice Says:

    some decent players are going to be cut this year…but we are done with decent, right? time to have a great front line group and “good/solid” backup unit

  13. Architek Says:

    Mike James looked so good and ran hard with limited snaps. He has earned his roster spot and he’s a darn good pocket protector against the rush!

  14. DB55 Says:


    I’m with you on Simms, he is a huge liability in pass blocking and I’m not overly impressed with his running skills. #icecream

    Bell on the other hand I’d keep. He seems like an intelligent players with skills. He’ll get there, I’m sure of it.

  15. DallasBuc Says:

    Mike James is another casualty of lapdog Licht’s ego

  16. Buc1987 Says:

    I’ve always liked Mike James. Since preseason 2013. He’s a scrapper that will fight for that extra yard when he’s running between the lines. I like his fight.

  17. DB55 Says:

    The U

  18. DallasBuc Says:

    Db55- Bell drops passes that hit his hands and makes penalties that contradict your assertion of his intelligence. I was hopeful about this kid but all he has shown us so far is that he cannot cut it on this level. I’ll take the undrafted kid Rannell Hall from UCF that carches anything near him and will do it in traffic. He doesn’t have fabulous hair or room with the QB in training camp so I guess that means he should get cut.

  19. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    This is finally a great problem to have……cutting good players….and we are first with waiver wire pickups…..I would be shocked if we don’t sign at least 1 or 2…..

    The only way James is a casualty is if we don’t keep 4 rbs…,,,,or if we choose to go without a FB (I doubt)

    I really always liked Mike James….gets the tough yards.

    Draft ego will cause us to keep Sims…..but, even now I still feel the jury is out on him.

  20. DB55 Says:


    Lmbo, I must admit I didn’t breakdown the second half but I will tonight. Hence fourth, I know not what I speak of AND I know better than to question you. I guess I’m just caught up in the excitement.

  21. ElioT Says:

    Conte is a gonner. DJ Swearinger solidified his place at FS last night.

    Go Sucs!

  22. unbelievable Says:

    Really hope they keep James and Hall, but either one is probably viewed as a luxury at this point, despite the fact that they have made more plays that other players ahead of them on the depth chart. Hall has perhaps been the most clutch out of any of those young guys.

    I agree Sims looks real bad pass blocking. He does have some wiggle and speed is his movement once he gets the ball though. I think the regime really needs to find out who the best slot and/or stretch receivers are going to be for this team, and whether those same guys can play special teams. I’m intrigued by Bell’s speed, but he has done nothing so far as a WR. Of course, he’s a 5th round rookie so I’m not sure if you can cut the cord just yet. And, IIRC, he made some big plays on special teams punt coverage.

  23. scott Says:

    Kepp James over Dominique Brown. Neither are the goial line back we want but James showed much more. Brown couldnt even run it in from the 1

  24. mac Says:

    There should be plenty of receivers on the waiver wire very soon that are better then Bell and Clay… Both will probably go…

  25. Nole on Sat.-Bucc on Sun. Says:

    Bell better tightin up cause I’m feelin the play of Adam Humphries a.k.a Wayne Chrbet. Dude snatching every pass comes his way.

  26. Eric Says:

    All teams lean toward the players drafted or signed by the current regime.

    Not a thing unusual about it.

  27. Hawaiian Buc Says:

    It’s a good problem to have to cut good football players. When was the last time we did that? For once, we have some pretty good depth at some positions (DT, LB, RB, TE). I really like Mike James, but I think he’s going to be the odd man out. Probably the same for Tim Wright.

  28. Lord Cornelius Says:

    I thought Sims looked decent on a few runs last night but maybe that’s just me lol.

    Hope we keep all 4 backs.

    Not sure at WR. Shepard looks most reliable. Would be good for Bell / Clay or Herron to make some plays in week 3

    Cameron Brate played well too at TE

  29. NewTampaChris Says:

    One area we won’t be cutting any good players from is OL. I have to believe that some guys who’ll get cut from other teams will be better than what we have here. A little depressing to have cleaned house a couple of years ago (Penn, Joseph, Zuttah) yet be way worse off today.

  30. Soggy Says:

    Bell did bat the ball out of the end zone to around the 1 or 2 yard line, nice play that was just before verners pic 6, maybe keep bell on special teams and see if he can get it together..

  31. Casual Observer Says:

    Sims dropped one of the easiest passes of the night. Good hands?

  32. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Edwards didn’t impress……you hope to keep your draft picks….but surely there will be a player cut that is better….
    Not much chatter about Iosefa……not much actiivity.

    As far as Clay is concerned…..I like him…..I think he has no problem with ball control and will break one soon……one thing I have noticed, however, is that he seems to want to run it up the middle and doesn’t try to break to the outside where his speed will help him.

  33. Atlanta Buc Says:

    Mike James looked solid at RB! Should be kept as 4th RB! I was impressed with R. Hall as well at WR; not enough tape to make judgement on rookie K. Bell, but would love to be able to stash him on the practice squad; but worried he would probably get snatched up by some needy WR team like Carolina for his potential. Agree that T. Wright and C. Brate are probably a luxury we cannot afford this year, especially with other more needy depth areas like Oline and DEnd. Swearinger looked like he was really starting to feel comfortable in his safety role in Lovie’s Tampa-2, say goodbye Mr. Conte, can’t make the club in the tub!

  34. Stanglassman Says:

    From what I’ve seen so far it will be Shepard, Murph, Herron and Bell with Hall on the PS. Bell returning K/P. I hope Clay has a few good returns in the 3rd game because it would be really nice to have a solid K/P return guy on this team.
    This will be a difficult team to make when you consider the 800 plus players soon available with the Bucs having the 1st shot at the waiver wire.

  35. Hawaiian Buc Says:

    Since I’m from Hawaii, I watched Iosefa pretty much exclusively for every play he was in. I really hope he makes the team. He wasn’t very good. He missed several blocks. I would love to see them give him the ball on the goal line (he’s a monster in short yardage), but that’s not why he’s here. He’s here to block, and he did a poor job of it last night. Practice squad is probably his best case scenario, but I don’t even see that happening.

  36. Pickgrin Says:

    WR cuts are not going to be easy. UDFAs Hall, Dye and Humphries are all making legitimate cases as to why they should be kept. I imagine at least 1 or 2 of those rookie receivers will wind up on our practice squad. Kenny Bell has grossly underperformed so far – and Clay (who has looked good to me as a returner in practice) has shown nothing worth noting in 2 games so far (and that’s getting basically all the return attempts).

    Nice to see Swearinger stepping up – he was a good addition off the waiver wire – and may well wind up starting if he keeps doing what he’s shown so far. Lovie likes Major Wright – and Tandy will likely be kept – so Conti is probably the odd man out at safety.

    I think Orie Lemon showed enough last year that he will be retained.

    RB Brown didn’t show much last night. Mike James looked OK. Martin looked great – Rainey looked good – Sims had a couple decent plays. Mike James may have a hard time sticking considering the talent at other positions they may choose to keep instead.

    I could see the Bucs keeping only 3 backs + a FB – in order to keep 7 WRs or perhaps 4 TEs.

    A BIG factor in many of these decisions will come down to special teams play. Is #6 receiver Russell Shepard as a special teams ace going to make more impactful plays than Mike James as the #4 back over the course of a season?
    Probably. If you cut both Brown and Jameis – then who carries the ball on 3rd or 4th and 1 yard?

    Some tough decisions coming up over the next 2 weeks. And even those 45-53 spots on the roster who “make” the team cannot be comfortable the first couple weeks of the regular season as Licht is likely to be fairly active with 1st choice of anyone who hits the waiver wire.

  37. Stpetebucsfan Says:


    Great post. Agree with all that you said.

    I imagine at least 1 or 2 of those rookie receivers will wind up on our practice squad. Kenny Bell has grossly underperformed so far

    And that’s where I need an education. Who is eligible for the practice squad?
    Just rookies? How many players do we get to keep? 7? Do they have to clear waivers before we can put them on that PS?

    Kenny Bell certainly got noticed against the Bengals by Chucky for making the worst freaking and costly penalty of the night. But he shows promise and is prime PS material. Several others fit that category nicely. I want to see that Hawaiian kid get a few more reps but he’s not going to make the 53 but I still don’t won’t to give up on him yet. Again PS material.

    Our safeties played well last night and McDougald appears to be the real deal!
    If Chris Conte fails Father Dungy’s first rule..best ability is availability he’s gone.

  38. FuNkYxMuNkEy Says:

    I would cut Conte in a heartbeat. McDougle n Swearinger are way better options IMO. Clay would be a cut option. I don’t think u waste a roster spot on a one trick pony whose trick isnt that good n the first place.

  39. Dreambig Says:

    Agree Kenny Bell has underperformed. He did have a nice special teams play on a punt at the 11:58 mark of the second quarter where he jumped up and prevented the ball from going into the end zone enableing the bucs to down the ball on the 1 yard line. So kudos for that one.

  40. Lakeland Buc Says:

    Kenny Bell has no receptions, and he’s been target 4 times. Mike Evans has no receptions, and he’s been target 5 times. Kenny Bell is playing great special teams, and he’s blocking also. But he did get call for 2 holding penalties last night. I don’t think Kenny Bell should get cut,he has too much potential..And it’s too early to call him a bust, Kenny Bell will perform for the Bucs.

  41. Danati74 Says:

    I think M. James stays. D. Brown hasnt done anything. K. Bell and Clay have shown alot in practice…as so with the UDFAs. To me they are all about the same. Same with R. Herron. They all flash, then they all have head scratchers. Sheppard every year has gotten better. From Special teams to contributor. Knowing we drafted Bell and Clay, we may keep them. We will try to hide a few of them on the practice squad and they will be snatched. All I can say is the team looks better than last year. A better feel to the team. Im actually going to watch some games this year

  42. Pickgrin Says:

    SPBF – Practice squads are mainly for 1st and in some cases, 2nd>3rd year players. Teams can have 10 players on the practice squad in addition to the 53 on their “active” roster.

    When a player is released – he must “clear wavers”. Any other team can sign them to their 53 man roster. If no team signs that released player to their active roster – then they are eligible to be signed to the practice squad – either by the team that released them or any other team. Players on a team’s practice squad are not “protected” in that any other team can “steal” a practice squad player from another team – simply by signing that player to their active 53 man roster at any point in the season. (This is how we got Omameh from the 49ers as an example).

    Here are all the details if you are interested:

    Every year teams have to let good prospects go because they are too “loaded” at a particular position and can’t afford to hold a spot on their roster for potential. So they release the player and hope they can sneak that good prospect through waivers and re-sign them to their own practice squad.

    The Bucs will likely be releasing young NFL caliber players at DT, WR, LB etc this year and some will be scooped up by teams with great need at that position and thus will not available for us to hang onto and develop.

    The upside is that we can potentially shore up our own weaknesses at OL, DE etc and having 1st choice of all players released because of the 2-14 record last year is a big advantage.

  43. Stpetebucsfan Says:


    Thanks for that explanation!