TAMPA, Fla. — It seemed like the perfect fit when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected former Boise State running back Jeremy McNichols in the fifth round in April’s NFL Draft — however, it has been anything but smooth sailing.
McNichols could be on the chopping block when rosters are finalized this weekend. The cutdown deadline to 53 is 2 p.m. Saturday.
On Tuesday’s episode of “Hard Knocks” on HBO, McNichols was highlighted among a crop of rookies trying to make their name. Though he’s seen making a nice special teams tackle, the Buccaneers’ running backs coach, Tim Spencer, graded his 13 offensive plays on Aug. 17 against Jacksonville as a D-minus. McNichols also is shown throwing a punch at a teammate in practice.
“He gets a little overwhelmed sometimes,” Spencer said, noting McNichols’ talent and that he needs as many snaps as possible.
It didn’t get better the next game, however.
Against the Browns on Saturday, McNichols came into the game in the fourth quarter. He lasted just two plays, getting stopped for a short loss on a run, then missing on a pass block that resulted in a sack. Head coach Dirk Koetter pulled him after that.
“He’s going to get our quarterback killed,” said Koetter, noting the defense had given the same look earlier.
At a news conference Sunday, Koetter didn’t mince words when speaking about McNichols, saying McNichols has done well on special teams, but “he’s just making too many mistakes on offense.” Koetter added that McNichols will play plenty in Thursday’s preseason finale (vs. Washington, 5:30 p.m.).
Dirk Koetter fairly blunt on rookie Jeremy McNichols, who will play Thursday: "He's going to get one final chance to show what he can do."— Greg Auman (@gregauman) August 27, 2017
Koetter is the former head coach at Boise State (1998-2000). Two other former Broncos are on the roster: running back Doug Martin, who will be suspended the first three games, and cornerback Jonathan Moxey, who has an outside chance of making the roster. The undrafted rookie could be a prime candidate for the practice squad if he is cut.