Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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Johnson, McKenzie Promoted as Two More Placed on IR

DE George Johnson and LB Tyrone McKenzie become the 10th and 11th players signed off the Bucs' own practice squad


Of the eight players who were on the first iteration of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' practice squad in Week One of the 2010 season, only rookie defensive end George Johnson was still a part of that unit in Week 14.

Now Johnson has moved on, as well, but as it was for most of his fellow Week One practice-squad members, that's a good thing.

On Tuesday, the Buccaneers promoted Johnson to their active roster, along with linebacker Tyrone McKenzie, who joined Tampa Bay's practice squad in Week 10.  Those two took the roster spots opened when defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and linebacker Quincy Black were placed on injured reserve Tuesday.

The Buccaneers promptly filled one of the two new openings on the practice squad by re-signing linebacker J.D. Folsom, who had a brief stint on that same unit earlier in the season.

With Johnson's promotion, there are now six members of that original practice squad on the Bucs' active roster.  He joins previous call-ups safety Vince Anderson, tackle Will Barker, wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe, guard Derek Hardman and tight end Ryan Purvis.  Only punter Brent Bowden and linebacker Lee Robinson are no longer with the team; Robinson is currently a member of the Denver Broncos' active roster.

In all, there are now 11 players among the team's 53 actives who previously spent time on the team's practice squad this year: the aforementioned seven plus guard Brandon Carter, cornerback D.J. Johnson, fullback Erik Lorig and defensive tackle Frank Okam.

The additions of Johnson and McKenzie will help repair the depth issues caused in the front seven with the most recent pair of season-ending mishaps.  The injuries to McCoy and Black against the Washington Redskins on Sunday forced the Buccaneers to put two starters on injured reserve for the third straight week.  The previous four were safety Cody Grimm, cornerback Aqib Talib, guard Davin Joseph and center Jeff Faine.

McKenzie gives the Bucs another outside linebacker reserve as Dekoda Watson and Adam Hayward will now split time replacing Black on the strong side.  And while Johnson is an end, he still fills a need along the front because the Bucs intend to use defensive end Michael Bennett at tackle in McCoy's absence.

Johnson signed with the Buccaneers as an undrafted free agent on May 3 after impressing in the team's rookie mini-camp on a tryout contract.  At Rutgers, the 6-4, 265-pound pass-rusher played in 38 games and compiled 132 tackles, 13 sacks, 31.5 tackles for loss, three fumble recoveries, one forced fumble, two interceptions and three passes defensed.  Though his collegiate career was hampered by a string of injuries, Johnson still peaked as a senior in 2009 with 6.5 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss.

McKenzie is a former prep star in nearby Riverview who also finished his collegiate career at USF and has now completed his trip up the Tampa football ladder with his promotion to the Bucs' active roster.  The 6-2, 243-pound linebacker has always shown a lot of promise, as evidenced by his selection in the third round by the New England Patriots in 2009.  However, he missed his entire rookie season when a knee injury suffered in his very first mini-camp with the Patriots sent him to injured reserve.  He was healthy for New England's 2010 training camp but ended up on the team's practice squad to start the season.  When the Patriots waived McKenzie from their practice squad on November 6, the Buccaneers quickly stepped in to sign him.

McKenzie spent one season each at Michigan State and Iowa State before coming home to finish his collegiate career and support his family.  Prior to the 2007 season, he transferred to USF in order to take care of his widowed mother, who had been injured in a car accident and subsequently lost her daycare business.  Thanks to a hardship waiver he received from the NCAA, McKenzie did not have to skip a season after his transfer and he immediately became one of the Bulls' most productive players.  He led the team in tackles in each of his two seasons, totaling 237 stops and earning first-team all-conference honors as a senior.

The 6-3, 230-pound Folsom first signed with the Buccaneers on September 28, at the beginning of the team's bye week.  He spent two weeks on the practice squad before his release on October 11.  Folsom was originally a seventh-round pick of the Miami Dolphins in 2009 out of Weber State.  He spent the majority of his rookie season on the Dolphins' practice squad, though he was promoted to the active roster on two occasions and saw action in two regular-season games.  In two seasons at Weber State, Folsom played in 23 games and accumulated 149 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, two sacks and one interception.

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