The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had two open spots on their 53-man roster entering their Week Nine preparations for Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Rams, and they filled both with internal promotions.
On Wednesday, the Buccaneers signed first-year guard John Molchon and rookie inside linebacker J.J. Russell to the active roster from their practice squad. The resulting vacancies on the 16-man practice squad were then used to re-sign outside linebacker JoJo Ozougwu and tackle Justin Skule.
The two openings on the 53-man roster were created by the move of outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett to injured reserve on Monday and the waiver of tackle Fred Johnson on Tuesday.
Molchon (6-5, 309) has been with the Buccaneers since first arriving as an undrafted free agent out of Boise State in 2020. He split his rookie season between injured reserve and the practice squad, then did the same in 2021 before re-signing with the Buccaneers in January. He went to his third training camp with the Buccaneers this summer before being waived in the final roster cuts and re-signed to the practice squad. In Week Three, he was elevated to the active roster for game day but he did not play in the game against Green Bay.
The promotion of Molchon puts the Buccaneers' offensive line numbers back to nine players after Johnson's release. It also provides added interior-line depth while rookie Luke Goedeke recovers from a foot injury suffered in Week Seven.
Russell (6-1, 225) joined the Buccaneers in May as an undrafted free agent out of Memphis. He played in all three preseason games and finished second on the team with 12 tackles, along with two quarterback hits. Russell was waived in the final roster cuts before the start of the regular season, then signed to the practice squad. Last week, he was elevated to the active roster for the game against Baltimore and was on the field for 84% of the team's special teams snaps.
Russell's signing restores the Bucs' four-man depth at inside linebacker following the move of K.J. Britt to injured reserve on October 24. Britt must remain on I.R. for at least three more games before being eligible to return to the active roster.
Ozougwu originally joined the Buccaneers as an undrafted free agent out of Arkansas Sate in May. He went to camp with the team but was waived with an injury settlement on August 22. Skule previously spent four weeks on Tampa Bay's practice squad before being released on October 18. A sixth-round pick by San Francisco out of Vanderbilt in 2019, he played in 31 games with 12 starts for the 49ers during the 2019-20 seasons.