Notably, the Lions activated three players that were on the practice squad to the active roster, making them eligible to play on Sunday. Receiver Tom Kennedy was signed to the 53-man roster, while kicker Aldrick Rosas and offensive lineman Tommy Kraemer were elevated from the practice squad
Rosas’ elevation is particularly interesting because Detroit is looking for a kicker to replace Ryan Santoso, who missed an extra point and a game-winning overtime kick in last week’s game against the Steelers. The Lions signed Rosas to the practice squad to replace him, but also signed rookie kicker Riley Patterson from the Patriots practice squad. Rosas’ elevation seems to suggest that he will be the kicker this week, not Patterson.
Rosas is the more experienced kicker, and, in fact, he made the Pro Bowl in 2018 after making 30-of-33 field goals for the Giants. He has struggled with his accuracy since then, however. As for Patterson, the Lions said they were high on him during the draft process, so they appear to be holding onto him as a potential long-term, developmental piece.
“But he was a guy that we had ranked really high in our evaluation process,” special teams coordinator Dave Fipp said of Patterson.
Kraemer’s elevation appears to be a numbers game trick for the Lions. There’s a rule in the NFL that if you have eight offensive linemen active on game day, your gameday roster can be expanded up to 48 players, not the normal 46. With reserve offensive tackle Matt Nelson already declared out, the Lions need one more linemen active in order to use this rule stipulation, so Kraemer is the guy. It is a bit surprising the Lions didn’t choose Dan Skipper instead, who was added to the practice squad this week to help add tackle depth to an injured squad.
Kennedy’s elevation to the 53-man squad is slightly different than the other two, because while the other two elevations are temporary—Rosas and Kraemer will go back to the practice squad after Sunday’s game—Kennedy signed a contract to the 53-man roster, meaning he’ll stay there after the game, unless Detroit decides to cut him. This could be a sign that Kennedy will have a longer stay on the 53-man roster, or that Detroit is more confident he’ll clear waiver than Rosas and Kraemer. It’s unclear if Kennedy will get much playing time on Sunday, but with Trinity Benson popping up on the injury report late in the week, Kennedy provides some needed depth.
To make room for Kennedy on the 53-man roster, the Lions have waived defensive tackle Kevin Strong. Strong has had a difficult season in 2021. He suffered a concussion after the team’s Week 1 game, and just when it looked like he was about to return, he suffered a thigh injury that landed him on IR. He returned from the injured list at the beginning of November, but he was a healthy inactive last week.
Strong’s future with the team may be over at this point. The Lions are very crowded at the interior defender position, especially after the return of Da’Shawn Hand last week. Detroit also has Michael Brockers, Alim McNeill, Nick Williams, Levi Onwuzurike, and John Penisini, on the roster. Additionally, Jashon Cornell is also on the team, but he was placed on the reserve/non-football illness list last week and will sit for at least two more games.
Strong has made 15 game appearances for the Lions since 2019, nothing 23 tackles and 1.0 sacks in his career.