For the third week in a row, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have elected to use practice-squad protection options on kicker Greg Joseph and defensive lineman Jeremiah Ledbetter. For the second week in a row, the Buccaneers are only protecting those two players, choosing not to use their other two options. In Week Six, the Bucs also protected defensive lineman Benning Potoa'e along with Joseph and Ledbetter.
The four weekly protection options take effect at 4:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday, and 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 Buccaneers have protected Joseph in all eight weeks so far, which is a nod to how difficult it would be to replace the kicker on the active roster if he became unavailable to play late in the week. Many teams are carrying a second kicker on their expanded 16-man practice squads this season so they already have a replacement in the building and through COVID protocol.
The Buccaneers have protected Ledbetter ever since defensive lineman Vita Vea was lost to a leg fracture in Chicago in Week Five. The team has since traded for former Jets nose tackle Steve McLendon but would still like to have the option to add depth on the line if needed. Ledbetter was elevated from the practice squad in Week Six and played 24 snaps against Green Bay.
Protected players do not have to be elevated for the game, and the Buccaneers did not use either of their two elevation options last week.
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.