Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Bucs release Okoye, others ahead of Friday roster deadline
TAMPA - The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have begun whittling their roster down to the NFL's 53-player limit, and at least one of those let go was someone they had been counting on for big things this season. Amobi Okoye, who the Bucs signed to a one-year, $2 million contract in April in the hopes he would add depth to a thin defensive line, was released Friday, Okoye's agent told The Tampa Tribune. According to the agents for the players, running back Mossis Madu, defensive tackle Frank Okam, linebacker Rennie Curran, offensive linemen Jamarcus Hardrick and Moe Petrus, defensive end E.J. Wilson and defensive back Sean Baker have also been released by the Bucs. An Internet report also claimed the Bucs released safety Larry Asante, but neither Asante nor his agent has confirmed that report.Several reports on Twitter also said the Bucs released safeties Cody Grimm and Keith Tandy, but the agents for both players told the Tampa Tribune shortly after noon that neither they nor their clients had been told by the team they were released. The team also released wide receiver Tiquan Underwood and fullbacks Robert Hughes and Cody Johnson Friday. Grimm's agent, Eric Metz, said neither he nor Grimm had been told he was being released. Tandy's agent, Adisa Bakari, said Tandy was not cut. Okoye, who first came into the league as a 10th overall pick by the Houston Texans in the 2007 draft, spent the 2011 season with the Bears and has re-signed with Chicago, agent Darin Morgan said. Okoye had four sacks for the Bears in 2011, primarily in a backup role. Okoye's fate with the Bucs apparently was sealed after he had right knee surgery during the offseason. The Bucs expressed optimism Okoye would still be ready for the start of the season, but his knee limited him greatly during training camp. Okoye played in the Bucs first preseason game but was held out of the next two and was limited in the final exhibition Wednesday against Washington, leaving Bucs coach Greg Schiano to express concern about Okoye's future with the team. "You can be a little more cautious at times (with players) and we've tried to do that (with Okoye), but at the end of the day, you've got to go out and earn a spot,'' Schiano said Thursday. Okoye became the youngest player ever drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft when the Texans selected him at the age of 19 out of Louisville. The decision to release Okoye likely leaves the Bucs with George Johnson and E.J. Wilson as their top reserves along the defensive front, where Schiano has expressed concern about the team's depth. "I think some have done some good things, but there's not a huge mix to play into,'' he said. "It's not an area where we have a lot of depth. So it's one area where, when you get behind the front-line guys, it gets a little thin.'' The Bucs have until 9 p.m. Friday to reduce their roster from 75 to 53. Then, they will then begin the process of tweaking it through the possible signing of players let go by other teams. They will also begin putting together their eight-player practice squad. Stay with TBO.com for updates.
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