TAMPA — Not coincidentally, the team with the NFL’s oldest roster also has one of its oldest injury reports.
The Bucs on Wednesday placed 31-year-old backup offensive tackle Josh Wells (calf) and 30-year-old backup running back Giovani Bernard (ankle) on injured reserve, meaning both will miss at least the next four weeks. In corresponding moves, receiver Kaylon Geiger and inside linebacker Kenny Young were signed off the practice squad to the active roster.
The news comes a day after the Tampa Bay Times confirmed that veteran defensive tackle Akiem Hicks, 32, could miss up to a month with a plantar fascia tear in his left foot. Meantime, the status of 33-year-old receiver Julio Jones, already slated to miss practice with his regular rest day Wednesday, remains unclear for Sunday’s home opener against the Packers.
Jones and Hicks were among five players who didn’t participate in Wednesday’s practice, joining receiver Chris Godwin (hamstring), left tackle Donovan Smith (elbow) and rookie tight end Cade Otton (personal reasons).
Coach Todd Bowles said it’s “too early to tell right now” if Smith, who missed last Sunday’s 20-10 victory against the Saints, will play against the Packers.
As a result of the mounting injuries, the Bucs formally signed 33-year-old free-agent receiver Cole Beasley and former 49ers offensive tackle Justin Skule to their practice squad. A sixth-round pick of the 49ers in 2019, Skule appeared in 31 games (with 12 starts) between 2019 and 2020.
In theory, both could play Sunday. Teams are permitted to elevate two practice-squad players each week to the 48-player active game-day roster without having to open a spot on the 53-player roster.
In other transactions, the team promoted nose tackle Deadrin Senat — a former USF standout who signed in April — from the practice squad to the active roster, and added defensive lineman Khalil Davis to the practice squad. The Bucs’ sixth-round pick in 2020, Davis was waived last October.
Wells started at New Orleans in place of starting Smith. Upon his exit, Seminole High alumnus Brandon Walton stepped in, logging 44 snaps at the position in his first NFL offensive action. Walton is expected to make his first NFL start Sunday.
“I know he’ll fight,” Bowles said. “He’s got a lot of fight in him, he’s not going to get pushed around. It’s just a matter of fundamentals and technique; that’s big when you don’t get the reps as a starter coming in.”
Those practicing on a limited basis Wednesday were cornerback Carlton Davis III (hip), tailback Leonard Fournette (hamstring), receiver Russell Gage (hamstring), center Robert Hainsey (knee), receiver Scotty Miller (calf) and receiver Breshad Perriman (knee).
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Contact Joey Knight at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls
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