TAMPA — It’s not easy to make an impression worthy of an NFL roster spot in just two days, but a couple of the undrafted players participating in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie mini-camp this weekend appear to have done that.
Bucs coach Lovie Smith said Saturday that he intends to announce on Monday the names of the players who have earned a longer look from the Bucs with their performance this weekend.
“We do have a couple, but they don’t know it yet,’’ Smith said. “We’ll let them know on Monday and those that do stay around with the vets, that will tell you how we feel about them.’’
Though rare, several NFL regulars have worked their way into starting positions after first signing as an undrafted free agent or earning an invitation to try out at a rookie mini-camp.
“It’s been documented what Demar Dotson did here,’’ Smith said of the Bucs starting right tackle, who first came to the Bucs as an undrafted free agent during their 2009 rookie mini-camp.
“And when I was in Chicago, I had two defensive backs that started from a tryout camp. So it’s always good to see guys come up the hard way and there are a couple guys that have a chance that we have here right now.’’
Many happy returns
The Bucs have had running back Charles Sims, their third-round draft pick, and wide receiver Robert Herron, their sixth-round selection, fielding punts and kicks during this weekend’s mini-camp.
“Our punt return is an area of concern a little bit and so it was good to see if some of the guys can do it or not,’’ Smith said.
Sims has returned kickoffs but not punts in the past but Smith believes his hands will allow him to eventually do both. Herron struggled fielding punts on a windy day on Friday but showed some improvement in that area on Saturday, Smith said.
The decision to draft tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins in the second round created a logjam at that position but the Bucs eased that logjam a bit on Saturday when they released Tom Crabtree.
Crabtree signed with the Bucs as a free agent last offseason but he was plagued by injuries throughout the year and wound up playing in just seven games, including five as a starter.
“He’s a good ballplayer and he’s been playing good ball in the league, but (his release) does coincide a little bit with what’s going on on the field with some of the rookies,’’ Smith said.