For the first time this season, the Buffalo Bills have made receiver Isaiah Hodgins a protected player on their practice squad this week. The move comes in the wake of Cole Beasley being placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list and Emmanuel Sanders missing last week’s game with an injury. Sanders returned to the team’s walkthrough on Wednesday but that’s no guarantee he’ll be ready for Sunday’s game. Hodgins has yet to be active for an NFL game in his two-year career.
The other two protected players are frequent flyers on the list; DT Eli Ankou and CB Nick McCloud. McCloud is especially important in the wake of Tre’Davious White’s injury. When Dane Jackson was hurt in last Sunday’s game and missed a few plays, it was special teamer and converted safety Siran Neal who took cornerback snaps.
Ankou has played in three games for the Bills this year including in the previous game against this week’s opponent, the New England Patriots. He remained on the practice squad last weekend with Star Lotulelei back and healthy.
McCloud played in two games for the Cincinnati Bengals earlier this year before being released.
Every team has 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.
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.