The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Week 14 list of protected practice squad players includes one who is getting that designation for the first time and one who has now been protected every week.
For the week leading up to Sunday's game against Minnesota, Tampa Bay will protect kicker Greg Joseph, cornerback Herb Miller and guard John Molchon. The Bucs only chose to use three of their four protection options this week.
Miller is protected for the first time while Joseph has been on the list every week. Molchon has also become a regular on the list, as he has been protected five weeks in a row since coming off injured reserve and joining the practice squad.
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.
For their last game before the bye week, the Buccaneers also elevated Miller and Molchon from the practice squad to make them eligible to play against Kansas City before reverting to the practice squad the next day. Though practice squad protections and elevations are two separate procedures, the latter of which was already a new rule before the COVID-related revisions, the Week 12 elevations for Miller and Molchon might indicate why the Buccaneers were eager to protect those players in Week 14. Miller was elevated in the wake of cornerback Jamel Dean being ruled out with a concussion while Molchon was called up because both Donovan Smith and Ali Marpet were questionable heading into that game.
When Marpet and Smith were cleared to play against Kansas City, Molchon was named one of the team's seven inactives. However, Miller not only made his regular-season NFL debut but even played two snaps on defense when cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting was briefly sidelined by an injury. Even with Dean returning to practice on Tuesday and potentially exiting the NFL's concussion protocol soon, Miller could still provide depth at the cornerback position..