Bucs' release surprises ex-Gator
Published: Wednesday, October 2, 2013 at 12:42 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 2, 2013 at 12:42 p.m.
TAMPA — The locker room at One Buc Place got a little quieter Tuesday.
On any given day, one voice could always be heard yapping – safety Ahmad Black. Whether it was messing with rookie running back Mike James about their Polk County days, or messing with any of his defensive back mates about their days playing against one another in the SEC, Black brought plenty of excitement and smiles to his teammates.
Now someone else will have to pick up that role because the former Lakeland High and University of Florida standout was cut by the team Tuesday.
“You develop this relationship with the guys, but you always know it's a possibility,” safety Dashon Goldson said. “This is what (is bad) about the game.”
Black was a fifth-round pick in the 2011 draft. He injured his ankle during training camp and was put on the practice squad. In December of that year, he was activated and played in his first NFL game.
Black played primarily in the team's passing packages but has made two starts. In 24 games, Black has 49 tackles, five pass breakups and two interceptions, including 12 tackles this season.
When the 5-foot-9 safety came into work Tuesday, he was told coach Greg Schiano wanted to see him. That's when Schiano told him the news.
“I'm shocked,” Black said. “I haven't been playing terrible. My mind is almost blanked. Never thought in a million years this would happen. It definitely caught me off guard.”
If a team doesn't claim Black within 24 hours, he will become a free agent and will be able to sign with anyone.
Schiano said the move to cut Black as well as wide receiver Kevin Ogletree was because of performance.
“Like every move we make, we just thought it was best for the team at this time,” Schiano said. “Mark and I discussed it at length. We have time here with the bye week to regroup a little bit; some personnel moves, some schematic moves, there will be a couple of things we try to work through.”
Meanwhile, the locker room will be a little less lively without the former Gator.
“That one hurt,” said running back Jeff Demps, who played with Black at Florida. He was like a brother to me. If I needed someone, I knew I could turn to him. That one hit deep. Hopefully, he'll get another shot.”
Black hopes the same thing as he comes to grips with the fact he may have to leave the state of Florida for an extended time for the first time in his life.
“It's all going to pan out,” Black said. “Everything happens for a reason.”
Rick Brown may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow his Bucs coverage at BucsScene.blogs.theledger.com and on Twitter @ledgeronbucs.