On Monday, August 27, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers trimmed their roster to 75 players per NFL rules. The reduction by 15 players actually started last week when 3 undrafed free agents were let go. The cuts were further minimized by moving guard Davin Joseph to injured reserve and defensive end DaQuan Bowers to the physically-unable-to-perform list. Though these fired Buccaneer players are likely devastated, many will land on their feet as part of the NFL carousel. Here's a look at the unique stories of these 13 released players.
Ed Gant: The 25 year-old receiver was a member of the Bucs' practice squad for the past 2 seasons and hoped this year would bring his big break. The Fort Myers native made an impression during last year's pre-season, highlighted by a 96 yard TD against the Washington Redskins. Yet, the undrafted North Alabama product could not distinguish himself this year among a crowded group of wideouts. Gant caught only 1 pass for 10 yards in the summer's first game against the Miami Dolphins.
Collin Franklin: This 24 year-old tight end was also a member of last year's practice squad, after being released by the New York Jets in training camp. Franklin did compete, however, in a pair of 2011 contests against the Indianapolis Colts and San Francisco 49ers, when Luke Stocker was injured. Unable to supplant Stocker, the 6'5" 252 pound player was likely doomed when the Bucs selected Drake Dunsmore in the 2012 draft.
Mike Ingersoll: The 300 pound tackle has enjoyed a wild ride around the NFL, despite not appearing in a real game. The North Carolina product began last year with the Kansas City Chiefs, where he competed in pre-season but failed to make the team. He eventually finished 2011 on the Bucs' 8 man practice squad. During the off-season, Ingersoll signed with the New England Patriots, but the lineman was cut following their mini-camp in June. The 24 year-old landed back with the Bucs when a calf injury kept Donald Penn out of camp. With Demar Dotson playing at a high level and Penn returning for last week's game, there was again no room Ingersoll.
Greg Ellingson: A graduate of Tampa's Robinson High School, the 23 year-old wide-receiver was also cut in training camp last year by the Jacksonville Jaguars. The 4 year starter at FIU played arena football this spring for the New Orleans Voo Doo, where he caught 8 TD's in 10 games.
Brian Smith: The former Notre Dame linebacker joined the Bucs a week into training camp, after competing in 2 games in 2011 for the Cleveland Browns. Despite weakness in Tampa Bay's line-backing corps, the 23 year-old was did not catch Coach Schiano's eye in the first 2 pre-season contests.
Andrew DePaola: Though Schiano has favored signing former Rutgers University players, such loyalty could not earn this long snapper a job. The 25 year-old rookie dressed for all 3 exhibition games, but was unable to supplant Andrew Econmos, who has handled such duties for the Bucs since 2006.
Eric Guthrie: Extra kickers are always needed in pre-season and this 23 year-old punter was signed from the University of Iowa in May. Possessing a healthy contract, starting punter Michael Koenen is unlikely to face competition anytime soon. Yet, the hefty 6'6" 245 pound punter did boot 13 punts in the first 3 exhibition contests.
Tramain Thomas: The University of Arkansas rookie signed with the Bucs as a free agent in April. Competing against the stars of the SEC, the 22 year-old was a 3 year starter for the Razorbacks and hoped to play his way onto the Buccaneers, but made little impact in 2 exhibition games.
Mike VanDerMeulen: The 6'7" offensive lineman started all 50 games in his 4 year career at Toledo. He signed with the Bucs as an undrafted free agent in April, after passing on an offer from the San Francisco 49ers. VanDerMeulen was 1 of 3 finalists for the 2011 Bobby Bowden Award, which recognizes the year's top student athlete.
De'Anthony Curtis: The 22 year-old running back signed with the Bucs after rookie mini-camp in May. He earned 5 carries for 20 yards, including a 19 yard scamper, in Tampa Bay's triumph over Miami. Curtis impressively played running back, fullback, wide receiver, and cornerback for the Arkansas Razorbacks.
Marquese Wheaton: The 24 year-old cornerback registered 2 tackles in the 2012 pre-season, but it was insufficient to distinguish in a crowded secondary. Wheaton was another undrafted free agent, who played 2 years at Southern Mississippi.
Quintin Anderson: The defensive end attended the small Wagner College in Staten Island, New York. The 23 year-old earned a contract at Bucs' rookie camp, but only competed in the summer's first game.
Armahd Lewis: One of 3 wide receivers that did not survive their 1st cut, Lewis signed with the Bucs in May out of Central Washington. The 24 year-old did not catch a pass in the pre-season.
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Jeff Briscoe is a writer who covers sports for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. A loyal Tampa Bay Bucs fan, he co-hosts the Florida-based radio show, The Sports Train.
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