As part of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement regarding COVID-19, NFL teams now have the ability to protect four practice squad players from being signed until after the next game. This allows teams to protect positions on their active roster that could be thin in the event of a positive COVID-19 test. Then, players can be called up to the active roster at any point between now and when inactives are due 90 minutes before kickoff.
In Week 1, the Buffalo Bills are pretty healthy across the board and with depth very good to start the season, the team chose to protect their top level of practice squad players instead of focusing on a position group.
Offensive lineman Evan Boehm, defensive tackle Justin Zimmer, and cornerbacks Dane Jackson and Cam Lewis were the four picked by Buffalo.
As general manager Brandon Beane said prior to training camp, it would be difficult for a player signed off someone else’s practice squad or a free agent to make an immediate impact. After traveling to Buffalo, they would need two negative COVID-19 tests one day apart just to be in the building and practicing. They might get one practice before being thrown into the fire, so practice squad players who are in your system are the best bet for a short-term fill in.