The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' offense could soon be getting some reinforcement up front.
On Wednesday, the Buccaneers designated Pro Bowl center Ryan Jensen for return from injured reserve. Jensen has spent the balance of the regular season on I.R. after suffering a significant left knee injury on the second day of training camp.
Jensen can begin practicing with the team as soon as Wednesday morning, opening a 21-day window in which he take part in all team activities without counting against the 53-man roster. He may be activated at any point during those three weeks, at which point he would be eligible to play in the Buccaneers' remaining games. That could potentially include the playoffs if Tampa Bay is able to secure the NFC South title over the next two weeks.
The Buccaneers kept open the possibility of Jensen's return in 2022 by waiting until after the final roster cutdown to 53 players to place him on injured reserve. At that point, he was eligible to return after missing a minimum of four games. If Jensen does come back to the 53-man roster, he will be the fifth player the Buccaneers have activated from injured reserve this season, following tackle Josh Wells, running back Giovani Bernard, safety Logan Ryan and inside linebacker K.J. Britt.
Jensen made his first Pro Bowl following the 2021 season and is regarded as one of the best centers in the NFL. He originally joined the Buccaneers as an unrestricted free agent in 2018, then signed a new three-year deal with the team this past offseason. He started all 71 games, including playoffs, during his first four seasons with the team.
One of three Pro Bowlers from the Buccaneers' 2021 offensive line, Jensen anchored a unit that allowed a league-low 23 sacks and finished first with a sacks-per-pass play rate of 3.15%. The Buccaneers also finished first in the NFL in passing offense, second in total offense and second in scoring. Jensen was on the field for 1,297 of a possible 1,328 offensive snaps, playoffs included.
Second-year man Robert Hainsey has started every game at center in Jensen's place. The Buccaneers have recently had to deal with several offensive line injuries, with both Donovan Smith and Tristan Wirfs missing time.