The competition for playing time in the Buccaneers secondary took an interesting turn Wednesday afternoon, when the team announced that one of their veterans will be suspended for the first four games of the season by the NFL.
The team made the announcement that fourth year corner Ryan Smith, has been suspended for use of PEDs and will not be eligible to play in the regular season until October:
GM Jason Licht's statement regarding CB Ryan Smith’s suspension.https://t.co/26uPju49uF
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) July 10, 2019
“We are disappointed that Ryan will be unavailable for the first four games of the season. We do extensive training and education for our players regarding the league’s polices, but ultimately each individual is responsible for what they put in their bodies.”
Smith has battled for playing time over the course of the last couple of seasons and started six times, while being active for all 16 games a year ago. He had 10 starts in the 2017 season. He has 99 career tackles and 11 career passes defended with one interception.
The former fourth-round pick out of North Carolina Central was definitely going to be battling for playing time among highly drafted players. That includes 2016 first round pick Vernon Hargreaves, who missed all but one game last season due to shoulder surgery.
The Bucs picked up the fifth year contract option this off season for Hargreaves and 2020. However, it is something that they could later rescind, if Hargreaves, who’s made little to no impact in three seasons, has another bad/injured year.
Licht continued to stock-pile new defensive backs with premium draft picks in 2018 by using second-round picks on M.J. Stewart and Carlton Davis. And, this past April with new coach Bruce Arians and new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, Tampa Bay took Central Michigan DB Sean Bunting in round two, and again, followed it up with Davis’ Auburn teammate, Jamel Dean in round three.
Smith was obviously going to have a real battle for playing time vs. all of those young defensive backs. He will be eligible to practice and play preseason games with the team, but now will be considered a long shot to make the final roster.
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