The Detroit Lions locker room continues to be impacted by COVID-19, with another three starters being added to the list on Monday, including offensive tackles Taylor Decker and Penei Sewell. To protect themselves against either, or both, starting offensive tackles missing this week’s game, the Lions were proactive in protecting the only tackle on the practice squad: Dan Skipper.
Will Holden and Matt Nelson are both on the active roster, and as long as they stay healthy, they would presumably be the next men up. But Skipper could still potentially be a critical piece on offense, especially with the recent reliance on six offensive linemen, and protecting him was a no-brainer decision this week.
Including Skipper, here is the full list of players the Lions elected to protect in Week 18, with the new additions bolded:
- OT Dan Skipper
- LB Tavante Beckett
- DL Bruce Hector
- K Aldrick Rosas
To make room for Skipper, the Lions passed on protecting tight end Nick Eubanks. With Brock Wright returned to the active roster, as well as the recent additions of Jared Pinkney (active roster) and Ross Travis (practice squad), protecting a tight end was no longer a priority.
With only one game remaining, every member of the Lions practice squad has at least one standard elevation remaining, meaning all are eligible to be elevated if the coaches need depth at a specific position—like off-the-ball linebacker.
Beckett remains a protected priority as he fills Detroit’s fifth linebacker role. The Lions have kept five off-the-ball linebackers active on gameday all season, mainly for special teams purposes, and Beckett has filled that role three times this season.
For reference, 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 Javon McKinley: 1 standard (1 remaining)
- WR Geronimo Allison: 1 standard (1)
- TE Ross Travis: 1 standard (1)
- OT Dan Skipper: 1 standard
- IOL Parker Ehinger: 1 standard, 1 COVID (1)
- DL, Bruce Hector: 1 standard, 2 COVID (1)
- LB Tavante Beckett: 1 standard, 2 COVID (1)
- CB Nickell Robey-Coleman: 1 standard, 1 COVID (1)
- CB, Parnell Motley: 1 standard (1)
- K, Aldrick Rosas: 1 standard (1)
Now, again, knowing which players have been elevated this season doesn’t hold much weight for Week 18, but the numbers do speak to who the team has leaned on in the past, and with futures contracts being right around the corner, players like Beckett, who have been elevated three (and likely four) times, could be at the front of the line for a futures deal next week.
Another player who was elevated three times this season is Hector, and no surprise, he was also protected this week, as he has been all season. The Lions like what they have in the young defensive tackle and he seems destined to return to Allen Park in 2022.
Rosas, the final member of the Lions' final protected practice squad, appears to be solely on the list for insurance purposes. Patterson has only missed one field goal in his six games played this season and it would be surprising to see them turn away from the rookie in the last game of the season.