The Detroit Lions made two roster moves ahead of their Week 3 game with the Baltimore Ravens, elevating kicker Ryan Santoso from the practice squad to the active roster as a COVID-19 replacement, and placing defensive lineman Kevin Strong on injured reserve.
The Lions’ kicker position has been a roller coaster all year. In January, Matthew Wright was signed to a futures contract, then in March, the team brought in Randy Bullock. The pair entered training camp in a competition but after several poor attempts, the Lions released Wright.
Next Detroit signed Zane Gonzalez, but at cut-downs, both he and Bullock were released. The Titans signed Bullock to their active roster, while Gonzalez would sign on to the Lions practice squad. The Lions then claimed Austin Seibert off of waivers from the Cincinnati Bengals, and he became their starting kicker.
After a Week 1 missed extra point, the Carolina Panthers released Santoso and signed Gonzalez off the Lions practice squad. Santoso was signed to the Titans practice squad, but after Bullock kicked a game-winner to beat the Seahawks in Week 2, they released him.
On Wednesday, Santoso was signed to the Lions practice squad and was immediately given a protection tag. The very next day, Lions kicker Austin Seibert was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Now elevated to the active roster, Santoso will be the Lions’ starting kicker on Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens.
One of the new rules the NFL put in place last season was the ability to elevate players from the practice squad to the active roster as a way of expediting the onboarding process due to the COVID-19 virus. Up to two times in a season, a player on the practice squad can be elevated to the active roster for a game and then revert back to the practice squad after the game. If a team wants a player to play in a third game, they would need to sign the player to the active roster.
It’s been a tough road for Strong with injuries this season. After suffering a concussion in Week 1, he was unable to be cleared by the next game and missed Week 2. He appeared to be headed towards clearing the league’s concussion protocols in Week 3 after participating in a full-contact practice on Thursday. But after suffering a thigh injury on Friday, he was given a questionable designation, downgraded to out Saturday morning, and eventually placed on injured reserve Saturday afternoon.
Strong will be unable to rejoin the team for the next three weeks and could return to action in Week 6 at the earliest.
The team currently sits with 52-players on the active roster—the maximum is 53—but because they have a game Sunday that only allows them to dress a maximum of 48 players, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the team stay at 52 until after the game when they can reassess their roster needs.