Bucs' Evan Spencer eligible to debut against childhood team, the Bears

Evan Spencer was a sixth-round pick of the Redskins in May, but joined the Buccaneers' practice squad on Sept. 22. Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports

TAMPA, Fla. -- Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver Evan Spencer grew up around the Chicago Bears. His father, Tim, coached with the Bears under Lovie Smith and the family lived in Vernon Hills, Illinois.

So when the Bucs play host to the Bears on Sunday, it could be a special occasion for Spencer, who is elibigle to make his NFL debut. On the sideline will be Smith, in his second season as the Bucs' head coach, and Tim Spencer, Tampa Bay's running backs coach.

Evan Spencer, who had been on the practice squad since Week 3, was promoted to the active roster Tuesday. He takes the roster spot of linebacker Orie Lemon, who was released.

"It's amazing," Spencer said. "I get to fulfill a childhood dream and get to go out there and play football against another NFL team and suit up for another NFL team. It's something that I've been looking forward to for a very long time and it being against Chicago makes it even better."

Spencer, who is 6-foot-2, 208 pounds, played at Ohio State and was a sixth-round pick by the Washington Redskins in May. After spending the offseason with Washington, he was released Sept. 9. Tampa Bay signed him to its practice squad Sept. 22 and there he sat until Tuesday.

"We've been looking at him for a long time, on the (practice) squad," Smith said. "He's got good size. He can catch. He's a tough guy (and has) good speed. That's why we moved him up. We put guys on we think eventually deserve to move up. It's good to see guys like that get that opportunity."

For his NFL debut to come against Chicago makes the journey worth it for Spencer, who attended middle school and high school there.

"I'm still really close with all my friends there," Spencer said. "I'm sure I will be getting texts all week and after the game. I'm excited to play. I'm excited to play them and I'm ready to contribute in any way that I can."