The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have chosen to use all four of their practice squad protection options in Week 12, and they've submitted the exact same list they did a week ago: running back Kenjon Barner, kicker Greg Joseph, defensive lineman Jeremiah Ledbetter and guard John Molchon.
The list has become familiar. Joseph has been protected every week of the season, a nod to the difficulty a team would face getting a new kicker onto the roster in time for a game if Ryan Succop were to suddenly become available late in the week. Ledbetter has become a fixture on the list ever since Vita Vea was lost to injured reserve in October. And Molchon has been protected four weeks in a row, ever since he was activated off of injured reserve.
This is the second week in a row that Barner has been protected. He has also been elevated to the active roster on game day three times, including this past week when he took over both punt and kickoff return duties against the Los Angeles Rams. Wide receiver Jaydon Mickens, who has handled the Bucs' returns for most of the season, has missed the last two games while on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Mickens has not yet been activated from that list.
Barner returned three punts for 19 yards and one kickoff for 24 yards against the Rams. Last year he was the Falcons primary return man, averaging 7.6 yards on 35 punt returns and 23.9 yards on 17 kickoff returns. Though the rules for practice squad elevations state than any specific player can only be elevated twice by a team during the season, the Bucs were able to do it a third time with Barner because of an exception that allowed him to replace a player on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
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.