TAMPA, Fla. — With uncertainty looming over their wide receiver position heading into Sunday’s home opener against the Green Bay Packers (1-1), the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-0) have elevated wide receiver Cole Beasley from the practice squad to the active roster, the team announced Saturday.
Beasley, an 11-year veteran who spent the past three seasons with the Buffalo Bills, signed with the club Wednesday to help offset the loss of a trio of Pro Bowlers wideouts: Mike Evans — who is serving a one-game suspension for his role in last week’s melee at the New Orleans Saints — Chris Godwin and Julio Jones, who are dealing with hamstring and knee injuries, respectively.
After missing Week 2’s victory at New Orleans, Jones was able to return to practice Friday, spending the portion of practice open to the media working with team trainer Bobby Slater off to the side. He is officially listed as questionable for Sunday, while Godwin was ruled out Friday. Wide receivers Russell Gage (hamstring) and Breshad Perriman (knee), who are both expected to have bigger roles Sunday, are also carrying injury designations, illustrating how precarious the Bucs’ predicament is at the position.
Beasley, who spent the week trying to get up to speed quickly with wide receivers coach Kevin Garver, said there is some carryover from previous offenses he’s played in, which included his first seven years with the Dallas Cowboys, with whom he established himself as one of the premier slot receivers in the league.
“He’s quick, catches up to speed [really] fast, he understands the system,” Coach Todd Bowles said Friday. “He’s played and he’s got a lot of reps under him, so if we needed him, I think he’ll be ready.”
Beasley, 33, said he wasn’t sure if he’d get an opportunity to play in the NFL again, having not been part of a training camp for the first time in his career. But playing with quarterback Tom Brady was always something he wanted given Brady’s reliance on slot receivers. He began reaching out to Brady months ago on Instagram, but it wasn’t until the recent rash of injuries that a spot opened up for Beasley in what was once a very crowded receiver room.
“I’ve been wanting to play with Brady for a long time, so it’s exciting for me,” Beasley said. “I’m excited for the opportunity and just ready to get back at it. It’s a humbling experience kind of waiting this long. It’s the first time I’ve never been through a [training] camp. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do.
“This is the perfect situation,” Beasley said. “I’m just happy to be a part of it. Whatever my role is, I’ll fulfill it. Wherever they need me, I’m just coming in and helping any way I can.”
Beasley said he progressed over the week and was getting more and more comfortable. But one concern he expressed was adjusting to the heat and humidity — a problem he encountered when the Bills and Bucs went into overtime in prime time of Week 14 last year. Sunday’s high in Tampa will be 90 degrees with 67% humidity and a 30% chance of rain.
“I remember being gassed trying to come back. It was hard trying to come back in that stadium with the humidity. That’s what I’ll remember. I’ll remember that and coming up short a little bit,” Beasley said.
Offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich said Beasley will adjust.
“It takes a little time to get used to it down here,” Leftwich said. “I didn’t see anything in practice — a game and practice are a lot different. He [would] be getting more reps in a game as opposed to what he did today in practice. … He’s a veteran, he’s a pro — he knows how to do that.”