TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have activated Pro Bowl center Ryan Jensen from injured reserve, making him eligible for Monday night’s NFC wild-card game against the Dallas Cowboys (8:15 ET, ESPN/ABC).
The Bucs had until 4 p.m. ET to activate Jensen, who was on Day 19 of his 21-day practice window, for him to be eligible to play. Jensen had returned to practice Dec. 28 and had been moving around well, but the final hurdle was him being cleared for contact, which came on Friday, a source told ESPN.
A source confirmed to ESPN that Jensen had torn multiple ligaments in his knee, including his ACL, at the beginning of training camp. The injury, first reported by Fox Sports, forced him to miss all of the 2022 regular season. Jensen, known as “The Enforcer” on the Bucs’ offensive line, had been expected to anchor a revamped interior that had two new guards in rookie Luke Goedeke and Shaq Mason. But Jensen’s injury thrust second-year offensive lineman Robert Hainsey, a converted college right tackle who was expecting to compete for the starting left guard spot, into a starting role at center.
Hainsey left the Week 18 game at the Atlanta Falcons with a hamstring injury and did not return, forcing starting left guard Nick Leverett to move to center and John Molchon to step in at left guard in his first-ever NFL regular-season action. Leverett suffered shoulder and knee injuries in that game, however, and is officially doubtful for Monday night, while Hainsey is questionable, meaning there are still questions as to who will line up where.
Jensen did start at guard with the Baltimore Ravens and that is an option if Hainsey does play, while Hainsey has lined up only at center as a pro. Goedeke did start in Week 1 at left guard, as well, before he suffered a foot injury and was replaced by Leverett in Week 7, and he started last week at right tackle for Tristan Wirfs, whom the team wanted to rest, as he’s still dealing with a high ankle sprain.
To make room for Jensen, the team waived linebacker J.J. Russell.