The Tampa Bay Buccaneers used all four of their practice squad protection options in Week One, but two of those protected players – safety Andrew Adams and wide receiver Jaydon Mickens – have since been promoted to the active roster. That led to a somewhat different protection list in Week Two.
For the second week in a row, tackle Brandon Walton and Deon Yelder will get that designation. This time, they'll be joined by kicker Jose Borregales and cornerback Herb Miller.
The option to protect 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.
The practice squads were expanded to 16 players last year and became even more important due to another new rule that was part of the new collective bargaining agreement ratified in 2020. Teams are now allowed to elevate two players from their practice squad and increase their game day rosters to 55 spots, with a maximum of 48 active. Additional players can also be activated as late as game day in order to replace players who were placed on the reserve/COVID list. That makes every practice squad player a potential contributor on game day, and teams can make sure that at least four of them are still on that unit at the end of the week.
Both Adams and Mickens were elevated for the season-opening win over Dallas, and both made significant contributions. Mickens was subsequently promoted to the active roster on Saturday and Adams followed suit on Monday.
The Buccaneers are a little thinner at cornerback than they were to begin the season after starter Sean Murphy-Bunting landed on injured reserve on Monday with an elbow injury. Miller is one of two cornerbacks on the team's practice squad, along with recently-signed veteran Pierre Desir. Miller spent all of last season on the Bucs' practice squad but was elevated repeatedly and ended up seeing action in four games.