The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have either one or two new starters on the offensive line this week due to injuries, and they will also have a new reserve waiting to step in if needed.
On Saturday, the Buccaneers promoted first-year center Ben Gottschalk to the active roster from their own practice squad. They had held a spot on the 53-man roster open since putting running back Antone Smith and defensive end Howard Jones on injured reserve on Monday, and apparently the O-Line is the spot that needed it most.
The Buccaneers also promoted Gottschalk's fellow practice squad member, second-year defensive end Ryan Russell, to make up for the loss of Jones. The team had to open a spot on the roster to make that move, and did so by waiving rookie running back Russell Hansbrough. Hansbrough had also been promoted from the practice squad earlier in the week after the loss of Smith, but his release could be a sign that starting running back Doug Martin is close to returning to action. Martin was listed as questionable on the Bucs' Friday injury report.
Left guard Kevin Pamphile is still in the league's concussion protocol and has already been ruled out for Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears, while center Joe Hawley is considered doubtful due to a knee injury. If Hawley can't play, that would presumably push into action the team's two interior-line reserves, Evan Smith and Caleb Benenoch, which meant the Bucs needed to find some reinforcements behind them. Tampa Bay generally keeps two offensive line reserves active on game day, one to back up the two tackle spots and one to provide depth at guard and center.
Gottschalk has been on the Buccaneers' practice squad since the start of the regular season. He also spent the last six weeks of the 2015 season on that unit before being re-signed by Tampa Bay immediately after the end of the campaign. He first entered the league as an undrafted free agent with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2014, after playing his college ball at SMU.
The 6-5, 293-pound Gottschalk played in all four preseason games for the Buccaneers this summer, starting at center in the summer finale. He also spent a week on the Chiefs' practice squad in 2014 and was briefly with the San Francisco 49ers during the 2015 offseason.
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