The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be without four regulars on Sunday when they take on the Los Angeles Rams, but they gave themselves a little more depth on Saturday through the practice squad elevation option.
The Buccaneers elected to elevate cornerback Rashard Robinson and tight end Deon Yelder from the practice squad in Week Three, making them eligible to play on Sunday in L.A. Both were Robinson and Yelder were designated as COVID-19 replacements, meaning these elevations will not count against the maximum of two times they can be elevated during the regular season.
Both inside linebacker Kevin Minter and wide receiver Antonio Brown were placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list this week and they are not expected to play. In addition, the Buccaneers will be without starting outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul and primary return man Jaydon Mickens due to injuries.
The new practice squad elevation rule was introduced in 2020 as part of the new collective bargaining agreement and it allows teams to elevate up to two players from the practice squad for each game. Additional practice squad players may be elevated to replace players lost to the reserve/COVID-19 list.
The two elevations give the Bucs a 53-man roster heading into Thursday night. They will have to declare either five or six of those players inactive 90 minutes before the kickoff to go with either 47 active players or 48 if eight offensive linemen are kept active. Robinson and Yelder could be among the 47 or 48 active players or they could be declared inactive.
Robinson just joined the Buccaneers' practice squad on Tuesday. Prior to coming to Tampa, Robinson spent the 2021 offseason with the Dallas Cowboys but was waived in mid-July. He has plenty of NFL experience, having appeared in 42 regular-season games with 18 starters for the Cowboys, Jets and 49ers. Robinson began his career as a fourth-round draft pick by San Francisco in 2016 and he started 6 games as a rookie, contributing 28 tackles, one interception and eight passes defensed. He started seven more games for the 49ers in 2017 before being traded at midseason to the New York Jets. Robinson spent most of last season on the Dallas Cowboys' practice squad but was promoted to the active roster in December and got into four games with three starts.
Yelder also has regular-season playing experience, having gotten into 26 games with two starts over the past three seasons in Kansas City. His career totals include 10 receptions for 86 yards. Yelder went to training camp with the Titans this summer but was waived in August. He first entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the Saints out of Western Kentucky in 2018. Yelder played against the Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV for the Chiefs, seeing six snaps on offense.
After the game, Robinson and Yelder will automatically revert to the practice squad without having to pass through waivers.