The Detroit Lions have stuck to their protected practice squad routine for most of the season. The only times we have seen them alter their approach is when a previously protected player was elevated to the 53-man roster (Jalen Elliott and Brock Wright) or released from the team (Ryan Santoso).
This week, with a healthy quarterback room, and a positive COVID result on the offensive line (Evan Brown was put on the reserve/COVID list on Monday) the Lions made a slight alteration to their Week 14 protected list: adding IOL Parker Ehinger and not protecting QB Steven Montez.
Here are the players the Lions elected to protect in Week 14:
- Parker Ehinger, offensive lineman
- Bruce Hector, defensive lineman
- Shayne Zylstra, tight end
- Aldrick Rosas, kicker
Ehinger was elevated from the practice squad in Week 12 for the Lions’ Thanksgiving game, but only saw three snaps, all on special teams. His elevation for that game was mainly to bring the offensive line count on the 53-roster up to eight, thus allowing the team to expand their game-day roster. He also served as an insurance option if the team suffered any injuries to players higher on the depth chart.
Currently, the Lions have eight offensive linemen (Brown was nine before landing on the reserve/COVID list and does not count against the roster), so elevating Ehinger may not be necessary. But he does provide them an important insurance option if any of the eight can’t play on Sunday—and it’s worth noting that Matt Nelson has not played in the last three games.
Hector has been protected every week this season and last game he was finally elevated for game day with John Penisini unable to play due to an illness and Jashon Cornell still on the reserve/non-football illness list. In the game, Hector saw 21 defensive snaps (28 percent) and earned a grade of 73.6 from PFF—illustrating his value and explaining why the Lions have been so diligent with their protection of him.
Zylstra continues to provide depth at tight end, as they only have two true tight ends on the active roster, meaning he is just one injury away from getting called upon.
Rosas and Patterson’s weekly kicking competition will continue, but as long as Patterson remains on the active roster and producing—he is 3-for-3 on field goal and 4-for-4 on extra point attempts—he will likely get the nod on game days.