The Detroit Lions tried to keep Craig Reynolds a secret for as long as they could, hiding him on the practice squad and protecting him in recent weeks. But after two stellar performances, Reynolds was signed to the active roster on Monday, opening up an opportunity to protect another practice squad player in Week 16.
Deciding who would take that open spot was probably an easy choice after starting quarterback Jared Goff landed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday. Goff did tell local radio that he was “feeling good” Tuesday morning, but the Lions surely wanted an insurance option, and that meant protecting practice squad quarterback Steven Montez.
Montez was protected most of the season while reserve quarterback Tim Boyle was on injured reserve with a broken throwing hand. Montez was not protected in recent weeks with three healthy quarterbacks on the active roster and other position groups thinning out. With the quarterback position once again becoming vulnerable, the Lions made the wise decision to make sure they had options.
Here is the full list of players the Lions elected to protect in Week 16:
- QB Steven Montez
- TE Shane Zylstra
- DL Bruce Hector
- K Aldrick Rosas
Zylstra not being signed to the active roster yet is mildly surprising, as the team only has one rostered tight end: UDFA rookie Brock Wright. While Zylstra remains on the practice squad, he has been elevated three times this season, including each of the past two weeks as a COVID-19 replacement.
Practice squad players can only be activated to the active roster twice a season in the standard format but can be elevated unlimited times as a COVID-19 replacement. Therefore only one of his three elevations count against the standard allotment, leaving him with one more available this season.
Here is a list of players on the Lions’ practice squad who have been elevated this season (as well as how many standard elevations remain):
- TE Shane Zylstra: 1 standard, 2 COVID (1)
- WR Geronimo Allison: 1 standard (1)
- OT Dan Skipper: 1 standard
- IOL Parker Ehinger: 1 standard (1)
- DL, Bruce Hector: 1 standard, 1 COVID (1)
- LB Tavante Beckett: 1 standard (1)
- LB Curtis Bolton: 1 standard, 1 COVID (1)
- CB Nickell Robey-Coleman: 1 standard, 1 COVID (1)
- CB Corey Ballentine: 1 COVID (2)
- CB, Parnell Motley: 1 standard (1)
- K, Aldrick Rosas: 1 standard (1)
Hector and Rosas have been protected nearly every week they have been on the practice squad and as you can see in the above list, and each has one more standard elevation remaining if needed.
With defensive tackle Jason Cornell still on the reserve/non-football injury list, Hector gives the Lions insurance along the interior defensive line. If the Lions opt for six defensive linemen on gameday, Hector would currently be that sixth option.
Rosas and rookie kicker Riley Patterson have a weekly kicking competition, but Patterson has been the Lions kicker the last four games and has yet to miss a kick in a game, converting all seven field goals and all eight extra points. At this point, Rosas is likely being protected primarily as insurance in case Patterson suffers injury or lands on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
Also of note: the Lions announced they released CB Shakur Brown from the practice squad.