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Buffalo Bills protect two on practice squad, but no tight ends

The Buffalo Bills have only protected two practice squad players for Week 10. They have the option to protect up to four players from signing with another team’s active roster between Tuesday and the end of the game that weekend. The rule is in response to COVID-19, to make sure teams have at least 57 players to choose from on game day.

This is the eighth week in a row the team decided to use fewer than the four allotted protection spots. It doesn’t cost them anything to protect a player, and by leaving a spot open, maybe they can protect a player later in the week. It’s a curious move, but they certainly aren’t alone around the league.

While in the past, the team has chosen to protect OL Jamil Douglas, CB Cam Lewis, and DB Josh Thomas, Douglas was signed to the active roster last week after they placed Jon Feliciano on injured reserve. As you might predict, Buffalo only protected Lewis and Thomas this week.

They are three of the most pro-ready players on the practice squad, but with an injury to tight end Dawson Knox and a very thin group at the position, it’s at least mildly surprising that neither Quintin Morris nor Kahale Warring are on the list. Warring was called up last weekend against the Jaguars. You might think that not protecting a tight end would be good news for Knox, but they didn’t protect anyone at the position over the last two weeks, either.

Lewis was called up to the active roster for the first time this season in Week 4 as a result of a Taron Johnson injury, and got the start as the team’s slot cornerback. The same scenario could happen this week with Johnson in the concussion protocol. He practiced in a limited capacity on Wednesday, which means he still could clear the protocol before Sunday. Lewis gets one more free call-up before the Bills would need to sign him to the active roster for real.

With fully vaccinated players able to come in and play on a day’s notice, the practice squad protections have lost some of their luster from a year ago, when players would take almost a full week from entry into the league’s protocols to being able to play in a game.