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Buccaneers promote Isaiah Johnson, T.J. Ward probably out tonight

The Bucs have some safety issues.

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Cincinnati Bengals Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers just promoted safety Isaiah Johnson to the active roster from the practice squad, waiving Jacquies Smith to make room for him. The latter move was a surprise, but reported yesterday.

Johnson joined the team as an undrafted free agent last year, and has spent every second since then on the Bucs’ offseason roster, or on their practice squad.

Johnson’s addition to the roster probably means safeties T.J. Ward and Keith Tandy aren’t ready to go tonight against the New England Patriots. Both were listed as doubtful on the official injury report. Tandy didn’t practice this week, while Ward was at least able to participate on a limited basis—but probably not enough to actually play.

If so, that means second-round rookie Justin Evans will get the first start of his career, with Chris Conte playing the other safety spot and Johnson as a backup.