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Lions elevate 5 practice squad players ahead of Week 17 game against Seahawks

Lions add game depth at multiple spots.

Buffalo Bills vs Detroit Lions Photo by Jorge Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Injuries and COVID-19 continue to limit the Detroit Lions roster. As they travel to Seattle to take on the Seahawks in Week 17, the Lions once again needed to dip into the practice squad in order to field a roster for game day.

On Saturday, the Lions announced the elevations of five players:

  • WR Javon McKinley - standard elevation
  • TE Ross Travis - standard elevation
  • IOL Parker Ehinger - COVID-19 replacement elevation
  • DL Bruce Hector - COVID-19 replacement elevation
  • LB Tavante Beckett - COVID-19 replacement elevation

Curiously, the Lions had the option to elevate up to five players with the COVID-19 designation (this designation does not count towards the standard allotment) but they only choose to exercise three of those spots, suggesting they could be holding out hope that two of the players currently on the reserve/COVID-19 list could be cleared ahead of Sunday’s game—but it’s not clear if that is possible within the current timeframe.

“We’re planning on getting Josh (Reynolds) back tomorrow,” coach Dan Campbell said at his Friday morning press conference. “We’ll see how he feels, but we can get him back technically tomorrow as long as he’s asymptomatic. I think he’s trending the right way.”

At this time, Reynolds has still not cleared the protocols as was hoped and remains unavailable to play.

With Reynolds and fellow starting wide receiver Kalif Raymond also currently on the reserve/COVID-19 list, the Lions brought up UDFA rookie McKinley for added depth. He will likely be WR5, behind Amon-Ra St. Brown, Tom Kennedy, Trinity Benson, and Khadarel Hodge.

There has also been a bunch of damage incurred at the tight end position recently. Starter T.J. Hockenson was placed on injured reserve two weeks ago, TE2 Brock Wright is on the reserve/COVID list, Superback Jason Cabinda has been ruled out, reserve Shane Zylstra was placed on the practice squad injured reserve on Monday, and now the Lions are turning to two tight ends they just signed on Tuesday. Former Lions’ practice squader Jared Pinkney was signed to the active roster and could be in line to start, and Travis was elevated today for depth.

With starting right guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai also on the reserve/COVID-19 list, Ehinger was called up to give the team offensive line depth. His addition gives the Lions nine healthy and active offensive linemen, though OL6 Matt Nelson is expected to see his role expand, possibly even taking on some blocking tight end responsibilities.

Starting defensive tackle Michael Brockers is also on the reserve/COVID-19 list, and reserve defensive lineman Jashon Cornell was removed from the reserve/non-football injury illness list on Tuesday, but it’s unclear if he will be ready to go on Sunday. Hector gives the Lions depth on the interior defensive line and could be called up to hold down a DT4 or DT5 role.

The Lions typically prefer to carry five off-the-ball linebackers active on gameday, mainly for special teams purposes. After Alex Anzalone and Josh Woods were placed on injured reserve the last two weeks, the Lions only have only four OTB linebackers on the active roster. Beckett’s elevation gives them five for this week’s game.

Of note: Practice squad quarterback Steven Montez was removed from the reserve/COVID-19 list.

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