On the Saturday afternoon leading up to their Week 15 game against the Tennessee Titans, the Detroit Lions announced a slew of roster moves. Directly affecting the gameday roster is the full promotion of tackle Dan Skipper from the practice squad and activation of guard/tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai from injured reserve. Vaitai, who was moved to the injured reserve list on the day before Thanksgiving, missed the requisite three games (Bears, Texans, Packers) and became eligible to return to the active roster this week.
Both join the active roster to bolster an offensive line that will be without starting center Frank Ragnow and right tackle Tyrell Crosby. The Lions already used the twice-free temporary promotions available in 2020 to elevate Skipper from the practice squad to the active roster earlier in the season against Washington and again against Chicago. In order to bring him to the active roster a third time this week (no longer free), the team signed him to a regular active roster contract.
Meanwhile, the team ended defensive lineman Da’Shawn Hand’s season by placing him on the injured reserve list. Hopes had been high for Hand to recapture some of the magic he showed in 2018 as a rookie, but injuries hit hard again in 2020. A groin injury kept the former fourth-round draft pick from the field for four games since early November. He was inactive in Week 11 against Carolina, Week 12 against Houston, and Thanksgiving Day against Chicago but finally made the active gameday roster against Green Bay last week. Following the Week 14 loss to Green Bay, Hand showed up on Wednesday’s injury report with an ankle injury and did not participate in any practices during the week, so this move is not a complete surprise.
The 53-man roster spots now occupied by Skipper and Vaitai are the two vacated by Hand and Jeff Okudah moving to the injured reserve list this week. Okudah underwent season-ending surgery to repair a core muscle issue and was officially placed on injured reserve on Wednesday. Skipper’s practice squad spot was filled by re-signing punter Arryn Siposs, who comes back two days after being cut from the practice squad (again).
The Lions also temporarily elevated defensive end Kareem Martin and center Marcus Martin from the practice squad to the active roster using the aforementioned special rules available in 2020. Both Martins (no relation) joined the team’s practice squad back in September. Marcus Martin had not yet been elevated to the gameday roster until this week, but Kareem Martin was a temporary elevation in Week 14 as depth coverage when Everson Griffen became unavailable.
Finally, cornerback Alex Myres was elevated by the team as a COVID-19 Replacement from the practice squad. Myres was signed to Detroit’s practice squad on December 2, the same day that Desmond Trufant went to the injured reserve list. This is a designation that indicates Myres is replacing a player who will be unavailable because they are on the reserve/COVID-19 list due to either a positive test or close contact. The spot being covered by Myres is Everson Griffen’s spot on the 53-man active roster, who was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on the Friday prior to Week 14’s game against the Packers.
Teams are allowed to elevate a practice squad player in such a situation beyond the two free temporary elevations they are usually allowed by the 2020 rules addendum. Such COVID-19 Replacement elevations were used recently by the Broncos and Ravens in high profile examples right after Thanksgiving.