Earl Watford

Buccaneers Activate DT Vita Vea

Jan. 22: The Bucs have officially activated Vea, as Peter Schrager of the NFL Network tweets. Vea will bolster an already terrific D-line and, depending on how much he plays, could provide a major boost to Tampa’s Super Bowl aspirations. In a corresponding move, the team has waived Earl Watford.

Jan. 18: The Buccaneers could be adding significant reinforcements ahead of Sunday’s NFC Championship Game against the Packers. Tampa has designated defensive tackle Vita Vea to return from injured reserve, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times tweets.

Stroud adds that the big man in the middle “will begin practicing Wednesday and could be activated for Sunday’s NFC title game.” This is something of a surprising development, as Vea was previously believed to be done for the season after fracturing his ankle back in October. The Washington product had been having a career year before going down, and his injury correlated strongly with a general decline in the Bucs’ defense.

He had ten tackles, three for a loss, and two sacks in five games while regularly eating up double teams before getting hurt. The 12th overall pick of the 2018 draft was up and down as a rookie, but started all 16 games in 2019. He had made another big leap in 2020, so it was a shame to see his season get cut so short.

Stroud noted in a follow-up tweet that the team thinks there’s a “very good chance” he’ll be able to suit up against Green Bay, although a final call won’t be made until later in the week. If he’s able to play on Sunday, it’d be a huge boost for Tampa Bay as they look to slow down Aaron Rodgers and the league’s most efficient offense.

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Bucs Sign Earl Watford

The Buccaneers have signed offensive lineman Earl Watford. He’ll take the roster spot of guard Alex Cappa, who has been placed on injured reserve with a season-ending ankle fracture. 

Watford was with the Bucs throughout 2019 season, starting in four of his 15 appearances. He’s a favorite of Bruce Arians, having played in 43 games (21 starts) for him in Arizona from 2014-2017 .

The Bucs beat the Washington Football Team on Saturday, but they lose their a starting lineman when Cappa was forced out. Between the regular season and the Wild Card game, Cappa logged 17 starts for Tampa Bay this season. Cappa, in his second year as a first-stringer, helped the unit place second in sacks while aiding the offense to 30.8 points per game, good for third in the NFL.

Watford, in his eighth year, will be eligible to play against the Saints on Sunday.

He can walk in any play four positions for us,” said Arians of Watford. “[We’ll] just get him back in a little bit of football shape; he stayed in pretty good condition. Just like [with] Ted Larsen – guys that have been in this system for a while, veteran players – when you lose a guy, you try to look for veteran players rather than young guys who might not be ready.”

Aaron Stinnie will start in Cappa’s place, but Watford will be on call if needed.

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NFL Practice Squad Updates: 12/29/20

We’ll keep track of today’s practice squad shuffles here, so be sure to check back later for all the new updates:

Cincinnati Bengals

Detroit Lions

Indianapolis Colts

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Signed: LB Christian Kuntz, G John Leglue

Seattle Seahawks

Washington Football Team

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 12/16/20

We’ll keep track of the latest practice squad moves here:

Baltimore Ravens

Cleveland Browns

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

  • Signed: LS Anthony Kukwa

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars:

Las Vegas Raiders

Miami Dolphins

New England Patriots

Philadelphia Eagles

San Francisco 49ers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFC South Injury Notes: Cappa, Little, Lindstrom, Logan

The Buccaneers will be without starting right guard Alex Cappa this week, according to Jenna Laine of ESPN. Cappa sustained an elbow injury in Tampa Bay’s game against the Jaguars this past Sunday. Head coach Bruce Arians removed Cappa from the game in hopes that the precaution could allow Cappa to play this week, but unfortunately the injury is just too severe.

Veteran offensive lineman Earl Watford is behind Cappa on the depth chart and is expected to start in his place against the Colts. A six-year veteran, Watford has played all across the line, but is primarily an interior lineman. An injury earlier in the year forced Watford to start in place of Cappa for two games, so this will not be entirely unfamiliar territory for Tampa’s o-line.

Here’s some more injury notes from the NFC South:

  • Panthers tackle Greg Little was ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Falcons with an ankle injury, per Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic. While Little was selected with the 37th pick in this year’s draft by Carolina to immediately jump into their rotation along the line, injuries have limited him to only four appearances on the season. Little can play either tackle spot, but was listed as the team’s top left tackle on the depth chart. Fellow rookie Dennis Daley will likely return to the starting lineup in his place.
  • Rookie offensive guard Chris Lindstrom will return to the field for the first time since Week 1 for the Falcons. According to D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Atlanta is activating Lindstrom from the injured reserve to start this week against the Panthers. The Falcons focused on solidifying their offensive line through the draft last offseason, selecting Lindstrom with the 14th overall pick and tackle Kaleb McGary later in the first round. Lindstrom, however, has been out since injuring his foot in the season opener and the offensive line has struggled mightily, allowing 38 sacks on the season.
  • Buccaneers running back T.J. Logan broke his thumb during practice and will be out for the remainder of the season, according to Rick Stroud of The Tampa Bay Times. Logan has played a couple dozen offensive snaps on the season, accruing 23 yards from scrimmage. His primary role though, is as the team’s punt and kickoff returner. This season, Logan averaged 9.5 yards per return on 13 punt returns and 20.8 yards per return on 13 kick returns. Jenna Laine of ESPN reports that Justin Watson and Sean Murphy-Bunting will share punt return duties while Dare Ogunbowale handles kick returns in Logan’s absence.

Buccaneers To Sign OL Earl Watford

The Buccaneers have agreed to sign offensive lineman Earl Watford, according to Adam Green (Twitter link). It’s a one-year deal, tweets Mike Garafolo of NFL.com.

Watford, who spent the 2013-17 seasons with the Cardinals, will now reunite with a bevy of ex-Arizona coaches — including head coach Bruce Arians and run game coordinator/offensive line coach Harold Goodwin — in Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers’ offensive line is already set in stone, so Watford, who can play both tackle and guard, will settle in as a top reserve.

The 28-year-old Watford has historically served in a backup role, although he did start 11 games in 2016. All told, the James Madison product has appeared in 55 games and made 22 starts since entering the league as a fourth-round pick. Watford spent the 2018 campaign in Cleveland on a minimum salary deal.

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Browns To Sign OL Earl Watford

The Browns have signed offensive lineman Earl Watford, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter). Watford was released by the Bears earlier this week, making him a free agent. 

The former fourth-round Cardinals pick signed with the Bears in April and was expected to have a shot at the starting lineup. Unfortunately, things did not pan out that way for him, despite Kyle Long‘s injury history and the departure of Josh Sitton.

Watford started nine games for the Cards last season and eleven in 2016. Pro Football Focus has graded Watford as one of the worst full-time blockers in the game over the past two seasons, but the 28-year-old has made 22 starts over the past three years in spite his so-so performance.

The Browns’ need for depth on the offensive line has been well documented, especially in light of Spencer Drango‘s preseason struggles. Watford can also fill in for rookie Austin Corbett if he struggles to adapt to the pro game.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bears To Release OL Earl Watford

The Bears are releasing offensive lineman Earl Watford, who was reportedly the subject of trade talks, according to Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com (Twitter link). 

The former fourth-round Cardinals pick signed with the Bears in April and was expected to have a shot at the starting lineup. Unfortunately, things did not pan out that way for him, despite Kyle Long‘s injury history and the departure of Josh Sitton.

Watford started nine games for the Cards last season and eleven in 2016. Pro Football Focus has graded Watford as one of the worst full-time blockers in the game over the past two seasons, however, but the 28-year-old has made 22 starts over the past three years in spite of that.

The Bears project to start Charles Leno, James Daniels, Cody Whitehair, Long, and Bobby Massie on the front line in Week 1.

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Bears Expected To Sign Earl Watford

Earl Watford visited the Bears on Monday, and that that summit is expected to lead to a contract agreement. The Bears are expected to sign the UFA offensive lineman, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune reports.

A Watford signing would reunite him with former Cardinals line mates Bobby Massie and Bradley Sowell, while supplying depth to the Bears’ offensive front.

With the Bears having released Josh Sitton earlier this offseason, and Kyle Long enduring more three more surgical procedures this offseason (story via Jeff Dickerson of ESPN.com), there’s a route to the starting lineup for Watford. The former fourth-round Cardinals pick started nine games for the Cards last season and 11 in 2016. The Jaguars initially signed Watford last March but released him later in the year, and he wound up back in Arizona.

Chicago does not have an obvious replacement for Sitton on its current roster, and Watford would bring the most experience among the candidates to start at left guard opposite Long. Eric Kush and 2017 fifth-rounder Jordan Morgan are also expected to be in that mix, per Biggs, adding that Watford could be a candidate for a swing role if he’s beaten out for a starting spot. Both Kush and Morgan underwent surgery in recent months, and Long will not participate in OTAs, per Biggs.

Pro Football Focus has graded Watford as one of the worst full-time blockers in the game over the past two seasons, however, but the 27-year-old James Madison product has made 22 starts over the past three years.

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Cardinals Place Jared Veldheer On IR

Left tackle Jared Veldheer is headed to the injured reserve list with a fractured ankle, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians told reporters on Monday morning (Twitter link via Darren Urban of the team website). Meanwhile, right guard Earl Watford is likely to miss time with high ankle sprain. Jared Veldheer (vertical)

The Cardinals have been dealing with offensive line injuries all year long. Starting guard Mike Iupati landed on IR with an elbow injury in Week 4 and season-ending maladies later sidelined offensive linemen D.J. Humphries and Daniel Munyer. Without starters Veldheer and Watford, the Cardinals will have to dig even deeper.

Fifth-round rookie Will Holden figures to move into the starting lineup while center Evan Boehm may be asked to fill-in at right guard. Interior lineman Max Tuerk, who was recently plucked from the Chargers’ taxi squad, could be in line for significant reps. The Cardinals will also likely add an offensive lineman or two to hold them over for the final stretch.

The Cardinals have Veldheer under contract for one more season at a $10.24MM cap number, but they can release him with just $3.25MM in dead money this offseason. Watford is scheduled to hit the open market in March.

The Cardinals advanced to 6-7 on the year with a win over the Titans on Sunday. They’ll wrap up the regular season with games against the Redskins, Giants, and Seahawks in the final three weeks. Even if they run the table, odds are they will not qualify for the playoffs.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.