Tampa Bay safety Cody Grimm was feeling pretty tired Thursday after playing all four quarters of the Bucs' 30-3 loss to the Washington Redskins on Wednesday night, which he considered to be a good thing.
The way Grimm figured it, he would sleep pretty well Thursday night. That's more than can be said for a lot of the other players in his situation.
Grimm went into the 2011 season as a returning starter for the Bucs, but he'll go into today's final round of roster cuts as one of more than two dozen players nervously sitting atop the Bucs' roster bubble.
"Obviously it feels different not being as secure about your spot,'' Grimm said as he changed after the Bucs' brief workout at One Buc Place. "But this is the NFL. You just have to expect this kind of stuff.''
The Bucs must whittle their roster down to the NFL-mandated limit of 53 players by 9 tonight, and the fact Grimm could be a part of what gets whittled away doesn't come as much of a surprise.
He did not finish either of his first two years in the league because of injuries, and his recovery from last year's season-ending knee surgery left him so far behind his competitors that he failed to move off the third string.
Throw in the addition of first-round draft pick Mark Barron, the move of cornerback Ronde Barber to safety and the emergence in camp this year of Ahmad Black and Grimm completely understands why he's on the bubble.
"There was a lot of competition (at safety), and we have a lot guys there now that can do a bunch of different things,'' he said. "You just hope everyone finds themselves a team if they don't find one here."
The situation that Grimm finds himself in at safety is similar to the one that Myron Lewis finds himself in at cornerback and that Tiquan Underwood finds himself in at wide receiver.
Lewis is coming off what was arguably his best preseason, one in which he not only stayed healthy enough to participate regularly for the first time but also played well enough to earn snaps with the first team.
The Bucs' 2010 third-round draft pick faded down the stretch, though, and with prospects such as Anthony Gaitor and Leonard Johnson pushing for spots behind regulars Aqib Talib, Eric Wright and E.J. Biggers, Lewis' future is in doubt.
"I came in here and played to the best of my ability and stayed injury free, which is what I wanted to do,'' Lewis said. "I've got some talent so I feel pretty good, but if I get let go, I just have to hope somebody picks me up.''
Unlike Grimm and Lewis, Underwood knows what it's like to be cut from an NFL roster. He was cut a year ago by the Jaguars and the Patriots in the preseason and spent two agonizing months looking for work.
He eventually found a job again with the Patriots, but after playing sparingly he was cut the day before the Super Bowl. Now he's hoping to stay on with the Bucs, who face some difficult decisions at his position.
Coach Greg Schiano suggested Thursday that the most difficult roster decisions will probably be at wide receiver, where it seems almost certain the Bucs will have to cut someone with NFL game experience.
"The wide receiver battle is one that will be an interesting one to see how it shapes out,'' Schiano said. "Number one, you have to decide how many do we keep. And then, in that number, who makes it.
"It's a tough group to evaluate because there's been production through every level, and a guy who played well (Wednesday) night is Sammie (Stroughter) so you throw that in the hopper. It's a good battle.''
Schiano said the ability to help on special teams as well as the ability to play multiple receiver positions will help players make the team, which is good news for Underwood.
He can return punts as well as play receiver, but the same can be said of Stroughter and Jordan Shipley, who are right there with him atop that roster bubble.
"I'll probably be very emotional (if I make this team), especially after what happened last year,'' Underwood said. "After that, I'll never take (playing in the NFL) for granted again. So if I make it, I'll probably shed a few tears to be honest with you, because you put so much into this and for it to pay off, it will be very gratifying."