Buccaneers Jersey Change Reveals New Signing, Roster Cut

Getty Tampa Bay signed Jonathan Hubbard on Monday to aid offensive line depth.

On his first day of practice, Tampa Bay Buccaneers tackle Jonathan Hubbard’s jersey apparently signaled who would get cut next.

The recently-signed offensive lineman wore No. 68 at Monday’s practice, which belonged to tackle Chidi Okeke at the time according to Greg Auman of The Athletic. Okeke didn’t practice on Monday, and Auman speculated that the former Tennessee State standout “might be the corresponding move” to get the roster down to 80 players by Tuesday’s deadline.

It turned out to be the case on Tuesday when the Bucs waived Okeke with an injury designation according to Pro Football Talk. The Bucs signed the Nigerian native on July 29 after stints with the Miami Dolphins, Washington Football Team, and Kansas City Chiefs.

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Bubbles Burst for Bucs Hopefuls

The Bucs also recently cut five players on Sunday following the preseason loss to Tennessee before waiving Okeke. Running back Troymaine Pope also got waived with an injury designation according to Buccaneers.com, but the Bucs waived the other four on Sunday without injury designations — wide receiver T.J. Simmons, linebacker Quinton Bell, and safeties Lawrence White IV and Nate Brooks.

Players waived with an injury designation can go on the team’s injured reserve if not picked up by another team according to NJ.com’s Dan Duggan. Tampa and the rest of the NFL will cut rosters down from 80 players to 53 on Aug. 31.

Bucs players on the roster bubble will likely only have a half, or less, to prove themselves in the preseason finale at Houston on Saturday. Head coach Bruce Arians said he plans to play the starters for the first half.

“Because we’ve got so long before we play. I mean, we can’t go against Dallas, who is really good, and all of a sudden play game speed,” Arians said.

Hubbard Helps Ailing Offensive Line

Hubbard, a 6-foot-5, 275-pound tackle, plugs another hole in an injury-riddled offensive line position group.

Injuries mounted among offensive linemen for the Bucs at training camp, beginning with versatile rookie center Robert Hainsey. The third round pick and former Notre Dame standout will make his preseason debut on Saturday at Houston.

“Yeah, he should be ready to roll, barring no setbacks during the week,” Arians said on Monday.

Bucs guard Sadarius Hutcherson landed on injured reserve after tearing his ACL in the preseason opener on Aug. 14. Center Donnell Stanley got injured before being waived in the first round of cuts on Aug. 17. Guard John Molchon apparently injured his leg on Aug. 18, per Buccaneers.com, and hasn’t practiced since according to Auman.

Tampa plugged holes in the depth chart with three other signings throughout training camp. The Bucs signed tackles Jake Benzinger and Brandon Walton, and the team brought back guard Earl Watford, who played for the Bucs last season. Watford notably couldn’t practice on Tuesday per Auman.

“We know what Earl is,” Arians said on Sunday. “So everybody else, they’re still fighting.”

Hubbard, who most recently played on the Dolphins practice squad, has one week of practice and one preseason game in his home state of Texas to fight for a spot on the 53-man roster. He signed with the Dolphins as an undrafted free agent in 2020 after playing college football at Division I FCS Northwestern State where he started 21 games in two seasons from 2018 to 2019 according to Buccaneers.com.

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