Derek Hardman had a particularly busy stretch on the practice field this week, filling in for a number of injured teammates along the offensive line.
For once, all that hard work could pay off with some playing time on Sunday.
On Saturday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed Hardman to their active roster from the practice squad, where he had spent the first six weeks of the 2010 season. To clear a spot on the 53-man roster for Hardman's promotion, the Buccaneers released fullback Chris Pressley.
The 6-6, 300-pound Hardman gives the Buccaneers some game day insurance in case injuries make either Davin Joseph or Keydrick Vincent unavailable against the Rams. Both Joseph (knee) and Vincent (back) were listed as questionable on Tampa Bay's Friday injury report; if either is unable to play, rookie Ted Larsen would move into the starting lineup and tackle James Lee would be the only remaining reserve.
The Buccaneers typically keep seven offensive linemen active on game day, with the five starters backed up by one player who can fill in at either tackle position and one who can step in at guard or center. That means that Hardman could not only be on the 53-man roster but among the team's 45 active players if Joseph or Vincent is unable to play.
Hardman was a first-team All-America selection by the Associated Press in 2009 during his senior season at Eastern Kentucky. He finished his career with a streak of 46 consecutive games started for the Colonels, switching from right tackle to left tackle before his junior campaign. Hardman played in all four of the Buccaneers' 2010 preseason games and started the preseason finale against the Houston Texans at right guard. The Buccaneers' staff considers both Lee and Hardman capable of playing both tackle and interior positions.
Pressley appeared in each of the Buccaneers' first three regular season games but was inactive for the last two. He first joined the Buccaneers in October of last season, signed off the Cincinnati Bengals' practice squad as a rookie. He had entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the Bengals in April of 2009. After joining the Buccaneers, Pressley played in seven games with three starts, rushing once for no yards and catching one pass for two yards.