The Tampa Bay Buccaneers waived rookie inside linebacker Chapelle Russell on Friday but will still have plenty of players available for Saturday night's Wild Card game at Washington after making four practice squad elevations.
The Buccaneers elevated linebacker Deone Bucannon, guard Ted Larsen, cornerback Herb Miller and defensive lineman Benning Potoa'e from the practice squad for Wild Card weekend. Miller and Potoa'e are designated as COVID-19 replacements, as the team still has two players – inside linebacker Devin White and defensive lineman Steve McLendon – on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
The Buccaneers also updated their injury report on Friday, downgrading running back LeSean McCoy (illness) from 'questionable' to 'out.'
Russell, a seventh-round pick in the 2020 draft out of Temple, played in the last 11 games of the regular season after spending the first five weeks on the practice squad. He appeared exclusively on special teams until seeing three snaps on defense in the Week 17 win over Atlanta.
With the waiver of Russell and the practice squad elevations, the Buccaneers will head into FedExField on Saturday night with 54 available players, from which they can keep 46 active. The elevations all add potential depth to positions that have been thinned by injuries.
The option to elevate up to two players from the practice squad for each game was new in 2020 and not related to the roster rule revisions instituted this summer to help teams deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the new rules also allowed for additional elevations for players as replacements for teammates who are on the reserve/COVID-19 list, and the NFL chose to make practice squad elevations unlimited for the playoffs. All four players elevated for Saturday's game will automatically revert to the Bucs' practice squad on Sunday without having to pass through waivers.
Bucannon just re-joined the team on Wednesday but is a familiar resource for Bruce Arians and the coaching staff. He played five games for the Buccaneers last season and spent his first four NFL seasons under Arians with the Arizona Cardinals. With White out for Saturday's game, Bucannon joins Jack Cichy as the two backups at insider linebacker behind Lavonte David and Kevin Minter.
Larsen, who also played under Arians in Arizona, rejoined his original NFL team on December 8 and has been on the practice squad since. He was also elevated for game day in Week 15 at Atlanta. The Buccaneers do not have an offensive lineman on their injury list this week but they have been carrying only eight of them since A.Q. Shipley was placed on injured reserve November 28.
Miller has spent the entire season on the Buccaneers' practice squad but has recently become an honorary member of the active roster, having played in four of the last five games after elevations. He has played extensively on special teams and has two kick-coverage tackles but has also seen some action on defense, recording three tackles and an interception. The Buccaneers hope to get cornerback Carlton Davis back from the groin injury that has kept him out of the last two games but still will have Miller available just in case.
Potoa'e adds much-needed depth to a defensive line that will be without McLendon and Jeremiah Ledbetter, the latter due to a calf injury. Potoa'e, a rookie signed as an undrafted free agent in the spring, made his NFL debut last Sunday against Atlanta after being elevated from the practice squad.