The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are using all four of their practice squad protection options for the first time since Week Five, with running back Kenjon Barner joining what had become a typical list of three. The other protected players are kicker Greg Joseph, defensive lineman Jeremiah Ledbetter and guard John Molchon.
Joseph has been protected each week this season, while Ledbetter has been on the list each time since Week Six, coinciding with the loss of defensive lineman Vita Vea to injured reserve. Molchon, an undrafted rookie who initially made the 53-man roster and then was placed on injured reserve in September, has been on the protected list all four weeks since coming off I.R.
Barner has actually played in two games in the season's first month, participating on special teams. However, the Buccaneers have already used both of the two allowed game day practice squad elevation options on Barner so he would have to be signed to the 53-man roster in the traditional way if the team wanted his help on kickoff returns.
Each team in the NFL is allowed up to four practice squad protections per week, and they take effect at 4:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday. Protected players can not be signed away by another team from then through the day of the upcoming game. Unprotected players are always free to sign with another team if the new team is adding them to the 53-man active roster.
The practice squad protection rule was put in place over the summer as the CBA was revised to give teams greater roster flexibility amid the pandemic. All practice squad players still have opportunities to get promoted by other teams between when their team's game is played and the next Tuesday deadline.