The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have a full complement of tailbacks on Monday night against the Carolina Panthers, but they'll be down one of their key offensive contributors for all or most of the remainder of the season.
On Monday afternoon, the Buccaneers placed running back Charles Sims on injured reserve and promoted rookie running back Russell Hansbrough from the practice squad. Sims suffered a knee injury in last Sunday's game against the Denver Broncos. Roster transactions on the day of the game are rare and only possible in this case because the Bucs are playing on Monday, a day when all 32 teams can make moves.
Last year, Sims paired with Doug Martin to form one of the most prolific running back tandems in the NFL. Martin finished second in the league with 1,402 rushing yards and compiled 1,673 total yards from scrimmage. Sims caught 51 passes and tallied 1,090 yards from scrimmage. The Buccaneers were the only team in 2015 with two running back who surpassed 1,000 yards from scrimmage, and Sims and Martin also finished third and fifth, respectively, in yards per carry.
That same formula never got a chance to materialize in 2016, thanks to injury. Martin suffered a hamstring strain in the first quarter of the Bucs' Week Two game at Arizona and has not yet returned to the field. Now Sims is potentially done for the season, though he could return late in the year if the Buccaneers use their one return-from-I.R. option on him.
Sixth-year veteran Jacquizz Rodgers will take over as the lead back as the Buccaneers play the Panthers on Monday Night Football at Bank of America Stadium. He will be backed up by Hansbrough and Peyton Barber, both undrafted rookies. A former Auburn standout, Barber was the Buccaneers' leading rusher in the preseason with 99 yards on 39 carries. Hansbrough, who played his college ball at Missouri, was next with 50 rushing yards on 22 totes. Barber and Hansbrough each added seven receptions.