The Detroit Lions added quarterback Steven Montez and tight end Shane Zylstra to the protection list in Week 16, but neither made the list this week, as Montez was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list and Zylstra fractured his kneecap and was placed on the practice squad injured reserve. That means spots were available this week, so let’s take a look at who took Montez and Zylstra’s places.
Here is the full list of players the Lions elected to protect in Week 17, with the new additions bolded:
- TE Nick Eubanks
- LB Tavante Beckett
- DL Bruce Hector
- K Aldrick Rosas
The Lions have been put through the wringer at tight end. Excluding the turnover ahead of the season (with Josh Hill, Hunter Bryant, and Charlie Taumoepeau), they released Darren Fells, placed T.J. Hockenson on IR, placed Shane Zylstra on practice squad IR, recently added Brock Wright to the reserve/COVID-19 list, while fullback/H-back Jason Cabinda is dealing with a knee injury and may not play this week.
That leaves practice squader Nick Eubanks as the lone-standing tight end who was on the roster before Tuesday—so obviously, protecting him is a massive priority.
It’s possible Eubanks will be elevated to the active roster for game day, and could even start, but the Lions did add some reinforcements on Tuesday, signing Jared Pinkney—formerly of the Lions practice squad—to the active roster.
After adding Alex Anzalone to IR last week, his replacement Josh woods was added to IR on Tuesday, leaving the Lions with just four off-ball linebackers on the active roster. All season, the Lions have utilized five off-ball linebackers on game days—mostly for special teams purposes—so protecting Beckett gives them an opportunity to elevate him to fill that LB5 role.
Beckett has been elevated twice this season, once as a standard elevation, and once as a COVID-19 replacement. Because COVID-19 replacements don’t count against the standard elevation totals, Beckett still has one standard elevation remaining—but with four players on the active roster currently on the reserve/COVID-19 list, Beckett could simply be elevated as a replacement for one of them without issue.
Here is a list of players on the Lions’ current practice squad who have been elevated this season (as well as how many standard elevations remain):
- WR Geronimo Allison: 1 standard (1 remaining)
- OT Dan Skipper: 1 standard
- IOL Parker Ehinger: 1 standard (1)
- DL, Bruce Hector: 1 standard, 1 COVID (1)
- LB Tavante Beckett: 1 standard, 1 COVID (1)
- CB Nickell Robey-Coleman: 1 standard, 1 COVID (1)
- CB Corey Ballentine: 1 COVID (2)
- CB, Parnell Motley: 1 standard (1)
- K, Aldrick Rosas: 1 standard (1)
Hector and Rosas have been protected every week they have been on the Lions' practice squad.
With defensive lineman Jashon Cornell returning from the reserve/non-football illness list this week, protecting Hector is not as necessary as it has been in previous weeks, but that speaks to the value they see in him as a player.
Rosas is technically in a weekly kicking competition with rookie Riley Patterson, but Patterson has yet to miss a field goal (10 for 10) or extra point (9 for 9) in five games, so protecting Rosas here is simply insurance in case of injury.