Vincent Jackson and Major Wright will finish the 2015 season on injured reserve, but it will be a short stint on that list for the Tampa Bay Buccaneer veterans.
The Buccaneers moved Jackson and Wright to I.R. on Wednesday, in advance of the 2015 season finale at Carolina. Obviously, it was deemed that neither player was going to be healthy enough to play against the Panthers, and those two moves created space on the 53-man roster for the promotions of safety Kimario McFadden and tight end Tevin Westbrook.
With McFadden and Westbrook moving up to the active roster and the previous promotion of running back Mike James last Saturday, the Bucs had three open spots on their practice squad for the final week. Those have been filled by a trio of rookie defensive backs: safety Gerod Holliman and cornerbacks C.J. Roberts and Joel Ross.
Jackson has missed five games this season due to a pair of knee injuries and will end up sitting out six, which in turn will break his string of three straight 1,000-yard seasons. The 11th-year veteran wideout has still been productive when he's played, ranking second on the team with 543 receiving yards on 33 catches and scoring three touchdowns. His average of 16.5 yards per reception ranks 13th in the NFL, and 84.8% of his catches have produced first downs, the second-highest rate in the league.
The last three of Jackson's four straight 1,000-yard seasons have come in a Buccaneers' uniform, as he joins Joey Galloway (2005-07) as the only players in franchise history to hit that mark three years in a row. Jackson has produced 4,153 receiving yards in his four Tampa Bay seasons, putting him fourth all-time on the team's career list.
Before landing on IR, Wright played in nine games with two starts this season and contributed 25 tackles, one tackle for a loss and three passes defensed. Wright first joined the Buccaneers in 2014, reuniting with his former Chicago Bears Head Coach Lovie Smith. Last year he started seven of the 12 games in which he played and recorded 52 tackles, two tackles for loss and one pass defensed.
A former third-round pick by the Bears in 2010, Wright has played in 75 NFL games, starting 51, and amassed 240 tackles, nine interceptions, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He has returned three of his nine career picks for touchdowns.
McFadden (5-11, 210) makes his second appearance on the Bucs' active roster this season and also went to training camp with the team this past summer. He was signed on November 10 and went on to appear in two games before moving to the practice squad for the past month. He has contributed on tackle assist on special teams. McFadden first entered the league as an undrafted free agent with the Atlanta Falcons out of South Carolina State in 2014. He has spent time with three NFC South teams, also appearing in Carolina late last season.
Westbrook (6-5, 257) signed with Tennessee as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Florida this past spring and went to camp with the Titans before being waived in September. He spent a portion of September on the Titans' practice squad before joining the Bucs on Sept. 30. At Florida, Westbrook appeared in 40 games and caught 11 passes for 111 yards and two touchdowns. He arrived in Gainesville as a defensive end before switching to offense in his sophomore season.
Holliman (6-0, 218) won the Jim Thorpe Award and was a consensus All-American at Louisville as a junior in 2014 after tying an NCAA single-season record with 14 interceptions. He declared for the NFL Draft a year early and was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the seventh round. Holliman went to camp with the Steelers but was waived during the final roster cuts.
Roberts (6-0, 180) played his college football at Colorado State-Pueblo and joined the Arizona Cardinals as an undrafted free agent in May. He also was waived in the final round of roster cuts in early September. At CSU-Pueblo he played in 51 games and recorded 212 tackles, 14 interceptions, 32 passes defensed and three forced fumbles.
Ross (5-10, 185) also began his NFL career as an undrafted free agent this past March, signing with the Dallas Cowboys out of Appalachian State. He too was waived during final cuts after going to camp with the Cowboys.