On Tuesday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made the expected move of placing defensive lineman Vita Vea on injured reserve due to the broken leg he suffered in last Thursday's game at Chicago. As it turned out, that was just one of a long list of changes to both the active roster and the practice squad.
In addition to Vea, inside linebacker Jack Cichy is also headed to injured reserve after he sustained a hamstring injury on Thursday. While Vea will not return this season, Cichy could be activated from I.R. after as few as three games spent on that list.
To restore some depth at the inside linebacker position and on special teams, the Buccaneers promoted rookie Chapelle Russell from the practice squad to the 53-man roster. Veteran cornerback Ross Cockrell was also signed to the active roster from the practice squad.
In addition, rookie cornerback Parnell Motley was waived from the active roster and rookie center Zach Shackelford was released from the practice squad.
All of those moves left the Buccaneers with five open spots on the 16-man practice squad. Tampa Bay filled four of those four practice squad openings on Tuesday by re-signing wide receiver Travis Jonsen, tight end Codey McElroy and running back Aca'Cedric Ware and bringing in linebacker Tegray Scales. Both Jonsen and McElroy went to training camp with the Buccaneers and Ware was waived in August after spending 10 weeks on the team's practice squad in 2019. Scales most recently went to training camp with the Steelers in 2019.
Vea's season ends after five games, 10 tackles, 2.0 sacks, three tackles for loss and three quarterback hits. He was considered a vital part of the Buccaneers' league-leading rush defense. Cichy played exclusively on special teams through the first five weeks and had one assisted tackle.
Russell, who payed his college ball at Temple, was the first of two seventh-round picks made by the Buccaneers in the 2020 draft. He was waived during the roster cut-down to 53 players on September 5 but signed to the practice squad the next day. In three of the first five weeks of the season, the Buccaneers used one of their practice squad protection options on Russell, making sure he wouldn't be signed away by another team to its 53-man roster. He played in 45 games at Temple and recorded 238 tackles, 3.0 sacks, 19.5 tackles for loss, 10 passes defensed, three forced fumbles and six fumble recoveries.
Cockrell actually played in the Buccaneers most recent game after getting game-day elevation from the practice squad. He joined Tampa Bay's practice squad in the third week of the season as the team used one of its veteran exceptions to add the seventh-year player. Cockrell has played in 69 NFL games with 43 starts, most recently starting 11 games for Carolina last year and recording 62 tackles, two interceptions and eight passes defensed.
Jonsen was signed by the Buccaneers as an undrafted free agent out of Montana State but he was waived with an injury settlement midway through training camp due to a quadriceps ailment. A versatile offensive weapon at Montana State, he ran for 526 yards and a team-leading eight rushing touchdowns, caught 55 passes for 580 yards and even threw a touchdown pass.
McElroy first joined the Buccaneers as a practice squad player last October before a December promotion to the active roster that allowed him to appear in one game and catch one pass for 30 yards on one of the two offensive snaps he played. McElroy's path to the Tampa includes not only NFL stops with the Rams and Cowboys but time spent in college playing football, basketball and baseball.
Ware went undrafted in 2019 but signed with the Indianapolis Colts shortly before the start of training camp. In the preseason, he ran for 108 yards on 33 carries and added nine receptions for 36 yards. Ware was waived in the final roster cut-down and then signed with the Buccaneers in mid-October. He signed with the Bucs' practice squad last year on October 16. At USC, Ware ran for 1,505 yards and 10 touchdowns on 264 carries and caught 19 passes for 126 yards. He was a teammate with Ronald Jones during the 2015-17 seasons.
Scales originally entered the league with the Rams in 2018 as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Indiana. He spent time on the Colts' practice squad late in his rookie season.