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The Buffalo Bills announced who the team has placed on the protected portion of their practice squad for their Week 11 meeting with the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. The names come to us via the NFL’s transaction wire.
In 2020, the NFL implemented a new rule to help NFL teams deal with the outbreak of COVID-19. With the virus still causing the league to have a variety of safety protocols in place to prevent outbreaks, the protected portion of the practice squad is back.
These players are not allowed to be signed by another team the rest of this week. After game day, all are then fair game to be signed until the Bills name their protected players from their practice squad for the ensuing game.
This week, Buffalo opted to only protect three players (they can do so with four max) on their practice squad. Those three are:
DT Eli Ankou
DT Brandin Bryant
DB Josh Thomas
These three appear to be directly related to some recent updates from the Bills.
First, Thomas has been protected for weeks now. Just last week, only him and cornerback Cam Lewis were protected.
Lewis is not on this list anymore because also last week, he was eventually signed to Buffalo’s 53-man roster.
Additionally, cornerback Rachad Wildgoose was signed off of the practice squad by the New York Jets this week. Because of those two, the Bills will want to protect Thomas even more so as a depth option now.
In terms of Ankou and Bryant, they are likely protected because of fellow defensive tackle Star Lotuelei.
Lotulelei remains on the Bills’ Reserve/ COVID-19 list as of early this week ahead of facing the Colts.
Ankou was only signed to Buffalo’s practice squad on Tuesday as well.
The decision to protect three instead of four is to leave some wiggle room. The Bills can add someone in their other spots later in the week, if they so choose to.
For more reference on the protected portion of the practice squad, here is our explanation of it from last season when it was introduced:
Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic in the United States, the NFL’s owners and players came to an offseason agreement that we’ve seen the first installment of on Tuesday evening. Each team in the league can “protect” four players on their practice squad each week.
The idea is to provide some extra depth for teams in case of a COVID-19 outbreak in a locker room late in the week prior to a Sunday or Monday game. Those four can be called up to the active roster up until Sunday morning prior to kickoff every week.