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Several Bucs face final tests in trying to make the team roster

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It may not matter to you. It matters to them.

It is the final argument, the last appeal to the head coach. For at least 22 members of the Tampa Bay Bucs, it is one last chance to show Lovie Smith and his staff why this football team cannot operate without you. It is an opportunity to make a play on special teams, to flash in the highlights.

And then, after all the work, to hope that this team doesn’t find someone it likes better on the waiver wire.

Want to play the numbers game? Fine. You get 53 slots, and of those, only 46 dress on game day.

Quarterbacks (2): It seems pretty cut and dried for the Bucs, who will likely only keep two again. That’s Jameis Winston and Mike Glennon. Seth Lobato would be the emergency call-back option, but for now, he’s cut.

Running backs (4): It gets complicated if the Bucs decide they like fullback Javorski Lane. Otherwise, Doug Martin is the starter. Charles Sims seems like a safe bet. This coaching staff of the Bucs doesn’t seem to care much for Bobby Rainey, who could help himself if he returned kicks. Unless the team wants to cut Rainey, it would be left to a decision between Lane and Mike James.

Wide receivers (6, five on game day): Don’t forget special teams. With Russell Sheppard, and possibly with Kaelin Clay, you get filled awfully quick. Of course, Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson and Louis Murphy are sure bets. That leaves a lot of bodies fighting for a very few jobs. Kenny Bell may be worth holding onto. Rannell Hill seems like a practice player, doesn’t he?

Tight ends (3): So this is why the team traded Tim Wright again. With Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Brandon Myers and Luke Stocker, the cupboard seems filled. There just isn’t enough room for Cameron Brate unless the team is weary of Stocker’s injuries.

Offensive line (9, seven on game day): The Bucs are still trying to find five players who can meld together, but the starters seem set with tackles Donovan Smith and Gosder Cherilus, guards Ali Marpet and Logan Mankins and center Evan Smith. That leaves room for two on game day and two more to be inactive. Last year’s draft picks, Kevin Pamphile and Kadeem Harrison, seem like your backups. Your inactives seem like Jeremiah Warren and either Reid Fragel or Patrick Omameh.

Defensive line (9, eight on game day): The Bucs play four linemen at a time, so they could use a rotation. At tackle, Gerald McCoy, Clinton McDonald, Henry Melton and Tony McDaniel seem set. At ends, while Melton may see some spot play, the four keepers are George Johnson, Jacquies Smith, T.J. Fatinikun and either Larry English or William Gholston.

Linebacker (7): A lot of your special teams players are linebackers, so don’t be fooled by the high total. That will include starters Lavonte David, Kwon Alexander and Danny Lansaneh. Free agent signee Bruce Carter and Josh Keyes have also gained some attention. That leaves a couple of spots for a player to try to make an impression.

Defensive back: (10, seven on game day): The Bucs play a lot of defensive backs, as many as five or six at a time. The starters are Alterraun Verner and Johnthan Banks, with Bradley McDougald and either D.J. Swearinger, Chris Conti or Major Wright at safeties. Mike Jenkins and Sterling Moore are also in the mix. Isaiah Frey and Keith Tandy will try to stay on the roster.

Placekicker (1): Patrick Murray hasn’t exactly claimed the job as his. Last week, the team brought in Connor Barth, and this week, it traded for Kyle Brindza. You could get surprised when the Bucs name their man.

Punter: It’s Jacob Schum.

Longsnapper: It’s Andrew DePaola.

Confident with your guys? Do you see eight wins? 10 wins? More? Pick the guys you want, and then see if Smith can do as well.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit

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