The knee injury that knocked tackle Josh Wells out of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Christmas night win in Arizona will also end his season. On Tuesday, the Buccaneers placed Wells on injured reserve, removing a critical depth piece from their offensive line room.
The Buccaneers used the resulting open spot on the 53-man roster to promote inside linebacker J.J. Russell from the practice squad. Russell has played in three games this season, including the last two, but was out of practice squad elevation options.
The recent promotions of Russell and wide receiver Deven Thompkins created two openings on the Bucs' 16-man practice squad, which they filled on Tuesday by re-signing tackle Dylan Cook and bringing in outside linebacker Ifeadi Odenigbo.
Wells, Tampa Bay's primary swing tackle for the last four seasons, played in 11 games and made seven starts prior to his injury on Sunday. He opened two games at left tackle, three at right tackle and another two as an extra blocker in jumbo packages. Wells also had an earlier four-game stint on injured reserve due to a back ailment. After filling in for injured Pro Bowl right tackle Tristan Wirfs for the first three games of December, he moved over to the left side in Week 16 while Donovan Smith was out with a foot injury. Brandon Walton now becomes the Bucs' primary reserve at the two tackle spots.
Wells played four seasons for the Jacksonville Jaguars before coming to Tampa at the beginning of the 2019 season. He has played in 95 games with 24 stars, 15 of those coming over the past four seasons with the Buccaneers.
Russell's promotion restores the Bucs' depth at inside linebacker to the preferred total of four, with him and K.J. Britt backing up starters Lavonte David and Devin White. The team has carried only three inside linebackers on the active roster during the second half of the season, in part due to Britt's stint on injured reserve, but has used practice squad elevations to have four available on each game day.
Russell, an undrafted rookie out of Memphis, has played exclusively on special teams in his previous three appearances. He recorded his first kick-coverage stop in Sunday's win over the Cardinals.
Cook, an undrafted free agent out of Montana, was on the Buccaneers' practice squad for the first 13 weeks of the season before being released on December 6.
Odenigbo (6-3, 258) played in 13 games for the Indianapolis Colts this season before being waived last Wednesday. He recorded 12 tackles, 3.5 sacks and six quarterback hits in his lone year with the Colts, and also added a blocked punt in his last game with the team. Originally a seventh-round pick out of Northwestern by Minnesota in 2017, Odenigbo spent his rookie season on the Vikings' practice squad before being waived at the end of the 2018 preseason. He was then claimed by the Cleveland Browns, then waived again later in September and claimed by the Arizona Cardinals.
Odenigbo played in one game for the Cardinals in 2018 before returning to the Vikings as a practice squad member. He made the active roster in 2019 and played in all 16 games, contributing a career-high 7.0 sacks to go with 23 tackles, 13 quarterback hits and two fumble recoveries, one returned for a touchdown. Odenigbo played in 15 games for the Vikings in 2020 and recorded 3.5 sacks, then appeared in nine games for the Cleveland Browns last season. In all, Odenigbo has played in 54 games with 15 starts and has compiled 14.0 sacks and 37 QB hits.