The first iteration of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 2019 practice squad has a familiar look. Through Sunday afternoon, the Buccaneers had filled seven of the 10 spots on that unit by re-signing players they had waived on Saturday. That includes the only 2019 draft pick who did not make the 53-man roster, defensive lineman Terry Beckner, and one of their most intriguing undrafted rookies, quarterback Nick Fitzgerald.
The seven players the Bucs signed to their practice squad on Sunday are:
· RB Bruce Anderson
· S John Battle
· DL Terry Beckner
· QB Nick Fitzgerald
· WR Emanuel Hall
· C Nate Trewyn
· CB Mazzi Wilkins
All seven are rookies. Beckner was a seventh-round draft pick, the last of eight selections made by Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers signed Anderson, Fitzgerald and Trewyn immediately after the draft. Wilkins was added just before the start of training camp and both Battle and Hall (as a waiver claim from Chicago) came aboard during camp.
The practice squad allows teams to develop young talent, often leading to eventual promotion to the active roster. For example, five of the 10 players who were on Tampa Bay’s practice squad in Week One last season are now on the active roster to start the 2019 campaign: outside linebacker Demone Harris, tight end Tanner Hudson, defensive lineman Patrick O’Connor, running back Dare Ogunbowale and wide receiver Bobo Wilson.
In addition, the practice squad helps a team fill out a full practice and cover areas of the depth chart that have been thinned by injuries or other roster decisions. The Bucs kept only three running backs on the 53-man roster, for instance, so Anderson will be a valuable addition on the practice field and potential reinforcement on the roster. Trewyn gives the Bucs a 10th offensive lineman and a second center, allowing for a full scout-team line in practice. Battle will help a safety unit that was trimmed to four players on Saturday.
Anderson (5-11, 210) played in all four of the Buccaneers’ preseason games and carried 23 times for 73 yards and one touchdown, adding two receptions for 13 yards. A Bay area native and prep standout at Newsome High School, Anderson played his college ball at North Dakota State, helping the Bison win three FCS national titles. In 52 games he ran for 2,896 yards, caught 32 passes for 448 yards, scored 31 touchdowns on offense and also took two kickoffs back for scores.
Battle (6-0, 201) initially signed with the Jets this spring as an undrafted rookie out of LSU, and was then waived in June. A three-year starter for the Tigers, Battle played in 47 games and started 28, contributing 144 tackles, five interceptions, 11 passes defensed and two forced fumbles. He played in three preseason games for the Buccaneers, recording four tackles and two passes defensed.
Beckner (6-4, 296) was the 215th player chosen overall in the 2019 draft. A former top high school recruit, Beckner overcame a pair of significant knee injuries to play in 43 games at Missouri and record 143 tackles, 13.5 sacks, five passes defensed, one interception and one fumble. He was a second-team All-SEC selection as a senior. Beckner got into all four preseason games and totaled three tackles and a pass defensed.
Fitzgerald (6-5, 226) played in 45 games and started 37 during a hugely prolific collegiate career at Mississippi State. A dual threat quarterback, he threw for 6,207 yards and 55 touchdowns and added 3,607 yards and 46 touchdowns as a ballcarrier. Fitzgerald set SEC quarterback records for career rushing yards, career 100-yard rushing games (21) and yards per carry in a single season (7.1). He missed all of the Buccaneers’ training camp and preseason schedule after sustaining a hamstring injury in a non-football activity in July.
Hall (6-2, 201) was a former teammate of Beckner’s at Missouri. A big-play specialist, he averaged 20.8 yards per catch in his college career and scored 16 times, including 14 touchdowns and a 23.5-yard average over the last two seasons. In all, Hall caught 97 passes for 2,016 yards for the Tigers, earning second-team all-conference honors as a senior. Hall signed with the Bears as an undrafted free agent then came to Tampa as a waiver claim on August 14. He played in the Bucs’ preseason finale but did not record a catch.
Trewyn (6-4, 315) played three seasons at Wisconsin-Whitewater, earning Division III first-team All-America honors from the Associated Press as a senior. He was also tabbed as the top center in Division III, winning the Rimington Award. Trewyn played in 35 games for the Warhawks and, as a senior, helped the offense rack up 240.5 rushing yards per game. He played in all four of the Bucs’ preseason games.
Wilkins (6-0, 181) didn’t take long to make a good impression after signing with the Buccaneers on the eve of training camp. The former South Florida standout also played his prep ball in Tampa at Plant High School. At USF, he played in 47 games over four seasons, with 22 starts, and racked up 110 tackles, 22 passes defensed and three interceptions. Wilkins got into all four preseason games for the Bucs, contributing four tackles, one tackle for loss, one forced fumble and a team-high four stops on special teams.