The Tampa Bay Buccaneers started four different tailbacks during the first half of the 2016 season and handed off to five different runners. Russell Hansbrough could be the sixth.
The Buccaneers' backfield merry-go-round has been caused by an unusually clustered string of injuries, the most recent of which has landed veteran running back Antone Smith on injured reserve. He and defensive end Howard Jones were placed on IR on Monday after sustaining season-ending knee injuries in Thursday night's game against Atlanta.
Hansbrough was promptly promoted from the practice squad to the active roster for the second time this season. One spot on the 53-man roster remains open as the Buccaneers begin a week of practice in preparation for Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears.
Photos of the Buccaneers' complete roster.
Starting tailback Doug Martin hasn't played since Week Two thanks to a hamstring injury that he later aggravated in Week Five. His replacement and the second half of the backfield duo that was so effective in 2015, Charles Sims, was placed on injured reserve in Week Five due to a knee injury. Jacquizz Rodgers, who was signed in Week Two of the regular season, helped cover for those absences by rushing for 324 yards in three starts against Carolina, San Francisco and Oakland but suffered a foot injury on his last carry in the Raiders game. He was unavailable on Thursday night and his status for Week 10 has not yet been determined.
Hansbrough (5-9, 195) was first promoted from the practice squad in Week Five and he played in the Buccaneers' Monday Night Football win over Carolina, though he did not log a carry or a catch. He first signed with the Buccaneers as an undrafted free agent out of Missouri in May and began the season on Tampa Bay's practice squad. After the Panthers' game, Hansbrough was waived and then re-signed to the practice squad. During the preseason, Hansbrough carried 22 times for 50 yards and snared seven receptions.
Smith and Jones are the sixth and seventh Buccaneers to be placed on injured reserve this season, and five of those are either running backs or defensive ends. Smith, who was signed on October 17, recorded 10 carries for 47 yards and six receptions for 77 yards in three games with the Buccaneers. Jones played in each of the first eight games, contributing one tackle, one quarterback hit and one fumble recovery, plus two stops on special teams.