The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed Isaiah Johnson to the active roster on Wednesday afternoon, promoting the first-year safety from the practice squad. To make room among the 53 active spots, the Buccaneers waived defensive end Jacquies Smith.
Johnson's promotion was not unexpected given the Buccaneers' current injury report. Safeties Keith Tandy and T.J. Ward are both suffering from hip injuries and are serious question marks for Thursday night's game against the New England Patriots. Without Tandy and Ward, Tampa Bay's depth chart for the position would have been limited to Chris Conte, rookie Justin Evans and Josh Robinson, a converted cornerback who plays almost exclusively on special teams.
Johnson has been with the Buccaneers without interruption since he was signed as an undrafted free agent in the spring of 2016, but this will be his first opportunity to play in a regular-season game. He spent his entire rookie season on Tampa Bay's practice squad and was added to that unit again this September after going to a second training camp with the Buccaneers. In eight preseason games for the Bucs over the past two summers, Johnson has contributed 14 tackles, one interception, four passes defensed and four kick-coverage stops.
Smith also originally entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent, though he came to the Buccaneers as a waiver claim from Buffalo in 2014. He played in 27 games over the 2014-15 seasons and recorded 13.5 sacks in that span. Smith began last year as a key member of the team's defensive end rotation but suffered a season-ending knee in the opener at Atlanta. A setback in his recovery just before the start of the Bucs' 2017 training camp kept him off the field for another two months, but he made his return to action last Sunday against the New York Giants.