The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have to reduce their roster from 91 players to 53 by Saturday at 4:00 p.m. ET. There’s one more game to be played before those cuts, however, and so the business of maintaining that larger roster depth continues.
On Monday, the Buccaneers tweaked the depth chart by signing defensive ends Mehdi Abdesmad and Hendrick Ekpe. To make room, the team placed defensive end Justin Trattou on injured reserve and waived running back Blake Sims.
Ekpe (6-3, 245) signed with Chicago as an undrafted free agent this past spring. The Bears listed the rookie defender as a linebacker, but the Buccaneers will line him up at end, where he excelled at the University of Minnesota. Ekpe got into one preseason game with the Bears and logged 22 snaps on defense but was waived on August 18. At Minnesota, Ekpe appeared in 48 games over four seasons, with 23 starts. He peaked as a senior last fall with 28 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks.
The Buccaneers wrap up their preseason on Thursday night with a home game against the Washington Redskins. The team is expected to sit all or most of its starters, as well as some other key players, leaving the snaps to players still battling for roster spots. As such, the team needed to maintain depth at the back end of each position on the depth chart, and Monday’s signing indicates that there was more of a need at defensive end than running back. Even with the release of Blake Sims and the possible resting of Doug Martin, Charles Sims and Jacquizz Rodgers, the Bucs can still share carries among Peyton Barber, Jeremy McNichols, Russell Hansbrough and perhaps even fullback/tight end Austin Johnson.