The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have protected newly-signed cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson on their practice squad this week after seeing both Jamel Dean and Dee Delaney leave Sunday's win over Chicago with injuries. The Buccaneers are hopeful that both Dean and Delaney will be able to play this coming weekend in New Orleans but protecting Wreh-Wilson, a ninth-year veteran with extensive experience, give them a potential elevation option on game day.
The Buccaneers used all four of their practice squad protection options in Week Eight, also putting that designation on kicker Jose Borregales, wide receiver Cyril Grayson and safety Troy Warner. Those three were also protected last week, along with tight end Deon Yelder, and both Grayson and Yelder played against the Bears after being elevated. Yelder is now out of standard elevation options, but the Bucs are also hopeful that tight end Rob Gronkowski can return to action on Sunday after missing the last four games with rib fractures.
The Buccaneers have experienced a rash of injuries at the cornerback position, with opening-day starters Sean Murphy-Bunting and Carlton Davis now on injured reserve and September addition Richard Sherman missing the last game with a hamstring strain. The Bucs promoted Rashard Robinson to the active roster last week after using his two standard elevation options. Wreh-Wilson is now the only cornerback on the team's 16-man practice squad.
The option to protect a limited number of practice squad players from being signed away by other teams was one of a number of new rules adopted regarding the practice squad in 2020 to give teams more roster flexibility during the pandemic. The NFL elected to keep those rules in place for 2021.
Each week, a team can submit a list of up to four players on its practice squad that other teams are prohibited from signing to their active rosters. In a normal week with a Sunday game, that protection starts at 4:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday and extends through game day. No players are protected on Monday or on Tuesday before the deadline, so every practice squad player will still have opportunities to sign elsewhere, even with the protected spots.