Training camp and the preseason are over but you can’t say the same about some of the position battles those two events were supposed to determine.
Not with the Buccaneers youthful competition anyway.
The Bucs filled out their first practice squad of the 2016 season on Sunday afternoon and from the looks of things, their third running back and fifth wide receiver slots are still up for grabs.
When the Bucs reduced their roster to the NFL’s 53-man limit on Saturday, it looked like Mike James and Evan Spencer had won those two spots, respectively.
Now James finds himself back in a battle with Peyton Barber and Russell Hanbrough while Spencer finds himself battling yet again with Freddy Martino as well as newcomer Jeremy Butler.
Barber, Hansbrough, Martino and Butler were among the eight players the Bucs signed to the practice squad on Sunday (the rest are listed below) and Butler may be the most intriguing of the bunch.
At 6-foot-2, 218 pounds he’s a big receiver who, like Spencer, doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty. The difference he brings is that he can be a deep threat as well as an inside threat.
Butler’s ability to mix it up over the middle or win a contested ball down the sideline was one reason he caught on with the Ravens last year and Butler wound up catching 31 passes for 363 yards in 2015.
Like a lot of teams, the Bucs use their practice squad to develop players they believe have a future in the NFL. They also use it regularly to store players that wind up playing regularly on Sundays.
Don’t be surprised if sometime soon you see Barber or Hansbrough put on the active roster and dressed for a game instead of James and likewise, Butler in the lineup ahead of Spencer. After all the battle for playing time never ends.
In addition to Barber, Hansbrough, Butler and Martino the Bucs also signed offensive linmen Josh Allen (who started and played whole first half of preseason game three) and Ben Gottschalk, cornerback Javien Elliott, safety Isaiah Johnson and linebackers Josh Keyes and Micah Awe to their practice squad.