TAMPA — The unspecified injury to Bucs starting S Chris Conte is serious enough that Tampa Bay on Tuesday signed veteran Major Wright to add experienced depth, waiving backup RB Mike James to make room.
Wright, 28, has not played in the NFL this season. He was among the Bucs' preseason cuts in August and had workouts with the Dolphins and Panthers but wasn't signed by either. He had 76 total tackles with Tampa Bay in 2014-15 and worked with Bucs defensive backs coach Jon Hoke when they both were with the Bears.
Conte played all but four plays in Sunday's win against Seattle but could miss this week's game with an undisclosed injury. If Conte can't play at the Chargers, Keith Tandy would start in his place, with Wright as a backup, along with rookie Ryan Smith, who hasn't played a snap on defense yet.
MURPHY CUT: The Bucs also announced that WR Louis Murphy has been waived off the PUP-reserve list. He has not played this season, suffering a setback the first week he returned to practice from ACL surgery last year. Murphy would have been paid for the rest of the season, so it's likely he asked to be waived so he can play elsewhere. He was due to make $2 million in 2017, so the move opens up some salary cap room for the Bucs next season.
GAME MOVED: With the Bucs surging to a 6-5 record after three straight wins, their next home game — Dec. 11 against the Saints — has been flexed to a 4:25 p.m. kickoff at Raymond James Stadium, giving Tampa Bay a larger audience as the Bucs seek their first playoff appearance since 2007.
The Bucs' Dec. 18 game at Dallas is another candidate to be flexed from its current 1 p.m. kickoff.
SPENCE NOMINATED: Bucs DE Noah Spence, who had 11/2 sacks and a forced fumble in Sunday's win, is a finalist for the NFL Pepsi rookie of the week. Spence has 51/2 sacks on the season, second among NFL rookies to the Jaguars' Yannick Ngakoue (six).
MORE MOVES: The waiving of James suggests that RB Jacquizz Rodgers, who has missed the past four games with a foot sprain, is ready to return Sunday as a backup to Doug Martin. Rodgers had two 100-yard rushing games filling in for Martin before his injury.
Contact Greg Auman at [email protected] and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.