As expected, running back Charles Sims has been activated from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' injured reserve list and will be available to play on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints.
Wide receiver Adam Humphries will not play in Sunday's game after being ruled out on Friday, which likely prompted the elevation of wide receiver Donteea Day from the practice squad on Saturday. Both Humphries and Dye first joined the Buccaneers as undrafted free agents in 2015.
To make room for Sims and Dye on the 53-man roster, the team waived guard Josh Allen and defensive tackle John Hughes.
Sims had practiced for the past two weeks without counting against the team's 53-man roster. However, his activation from IR forced the team to open a spot on that list and they did so by waiving first-year guard Josh Allen. Allen spent the first 11 weeks of the season on Tampa Bay's practice squad before being promoted on Nov. 22; he has been a game-day inactive each of the last two weeks.
Sims hasn't played since suffering a knee injury against Denver in Week Four. He was placed on injured reserve on October 5 but the Buccaneers have chosen to use their one IR-designated for return option on the third-year back, thus returning the offensive backfield to full strength in time for the playoff stretch drive.
Prior to his injury, Sims carried 41 times for 116 yards and a touchdown and added 14 receptions for 112 yards and another score. Considered the team's best pass-catching back, he was the perfect complement to lead back Doug Martin last year, as Tampa Bay boasted the only backfield with two runners who each surpassed 1,000 yards from scrimmage.
Sims finished the 2015 season with 1,090 yards from scrimmage, splitting it nearly down the middle with 529 on the ground and 561 through the air. His 4.94 yards per carry ranked fifth in the NFL among all players with at least 100 rushing attempts. As a rookie, Sims missed the first half of the season due to injury but returned to contribute 375 yards from scrimmage. He was originally a third-round draft pick out of West Virginia in 2014.
After putting together the fifth-best rushing attack in the NFL in 2015 with 135.1 yards per game, the Buccaneers haven't fared as well on the ground this season. With four games to play, Tampa Bay's offense ranks 17th in the league with 104.9 rushing yards per game. The Bucs also ranked second in the league with 4.75 yards per carry, a number that has dipped to 3.6 in 2016. Injuries have obviously played a role, with Sims's eight-game stint on injured reserve coupled with absences of six games by Doug Martin and four by Jacquizz Rodgers.
Martin's return from a hamstring ailment has coincided with the Buccaneers' four-game winning streak, and Rodgers just came back from a foot injury last weekend. With Sims now in the picture, the Bucs suddenly have a loaded backfield and hope to use it to produce a more robust ground game down the stretch.
"We need to run the football better," said Head Coach Dirk Koetter on Wednesday. "You've got to run the ball better at the end of the year and that's going to be a point of emphasis for us this week. Me saying it and us doing it are two different things."
In contrast, Tampa Bay's receiving corps was thinned out by a pair of injuries sustained early in last Sunday's win at San Diego. Cecil Shorts was lost for the remainder of the season with a knee injury but was quickly replaced on the active roster by Josh Huff, who was also promoted from the practice squad earlier in the week. Humphries has been in the concussion protocol all week, and though he practiced on Thursday and Friday he was not cleared from the protocol and thus cannot suit up on Sunday. With Dye back on the active roster, where he spent 10 weeks as a rookie last fall, the Buccaneers will have the option to suit up their preferred number of five receivers.
Dye caught 11 passes for 132 yards and one touchdown in his rookie campaign. He went back to training camp with the Buccaneers this past season and played in three preseason games before being waived with an injury settlement. He had one catch for 20 yards during the preseason. The Buccaneers brought Dye back into the mix in Week Eight and he has spent most of his time on the team's practice squad since then.