The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are getting a major boost against the Dallas Cowboys as the team activated center Ryan Jensen with the Pro Bowler expected to make his season debut against the Dallas Cowboys. Jensen sustained a significant knee injury on the second day of training camp and was sidelined for the entire regular season.
The Bucs released linebacker J.J. Russell to make room on the active roster for Jensen who was previously on injured reserve. Jensen took first-team reps with Tom Brady throughout the practice week and the team plans to start the veteran at center, per Tampa Bay Times’ Rick Stroud.
“My information is that Jensen will start at center,” Stroud tweeted on January 16, 2023. “G Nick Leverett is doubtful and they may start Luke Goedeke at guard. Robert Hainsey is an option but has hamstring strain. Bucs activate center Ryan Jensen for tonight’s playoff showdown vs. Cowboys.”
Jensen Signed a 3-Year, $39 Million Contract Last Offseason
The re-signing of Jensen was one of the Buccaneers major moves last offseason as the center inked a three-year, $39 million deal. The Buccaneers are hoping Jensen can help play a role in slowing down the Cowboys pass rush led by Micah Parsons. Tampa Bay head coach Todd Bowles discussed what the team needed to see from Jensen in order for the Pro Bowler to play against Dallas.
“”We’ll see how he is at the end of the week – he’s coming along and he’s practicing hard,” Bowles explained during a January 14 press conference. “We’ll see where he is – he’s got some tests to pass.
“…You work on his movement first – you work on all his movement and then you progress to that point and see where he is. He’s not at that point yet – he’s having some contact but until you turn it up more and see exactly where he is, right now it’s still the [beginning stages].”
Parsons on Brady: ‘He Bleeds the Same Way’
The Buccaneers and Cowboys have a great deal of familiarity as the two teams have squared off on two previous occasions going into the final game of the Wild Card slate. Heading into the primetime postseason matchup, Parsons praised Brady but also emphasized the defense would not be nervous to take on the NFL legend with their season on the line.
“It’s always cool going against Brady because, s***, none of us know when his last game is,” Parsons told reporters on January 12. “So, hopefully we get the win and get to be known for being the last [team to beat Brady]. If not, we’ll probably see him again next year, we know how he is.
“So, that’s what it’s about, but he’s just like any other quarterback. He bleeds the same way. He throws [the same way]. He’s just a better quarterback than most. So, the challenge is higher.”
The Bucs Secondary Is Healthy vs. Cowboys
Tampa Bay has dealt with a string of injuries throughout the season with the secondary being one of the units most impacted. The good news is all signs point to the Bucs top safeties and cornerbacks playing against Dallas, a rare occurrence this season.
“Bucs are likely to have their top three corners (Davis, Dean, SMB) and top three safeties (Winfield, Edwards, Ryan) all healthy and available together tonight for the first time since Week 4,” Fox Sports’ Greg Auman tweeted on January 16. “Those six have missed a combined 27 games, all sidelined at least four except Dean (2).”