The NFL is a tough business, especially for players on the roster bubble or practice squad. On any given week, a player could be signed, elevated, or waived in what must be a rollercoaster of emotions.
Detroit Lions wide receiver Maurice Alexander was a late addition to training camp and signed to the practice squad to open the season. Since then he was elevated from the practice squad in Week 4, signed to the active roster in Week 5, waived from the roster heading into the bye week, re-signed to the active roster ahead of Week 7, and on Monday, the Lions announced that they are waiving him... again.
With injuries at the wide receiver—DJ Chark and Quintez Cephus are on injured reserve, Jameson Williams remains on the reserve/NFI list, Amon-Ra St. Brown in concussion protocol, and Josh Reynolds is nursing a knee injury—the Lions have leaned on Alexander as positional insurance, while also deploying him as their starting kick returner.
While none of the receivers on the reserve lists are likely back for the next few weeks, St. Brown has already been cleared, is working his way through the league protocols, and is expected to play this week. Reynolds also played through his knee injury last week.
And despite both St. Brown and Reynolds being hobbled in Week 7, Alexander still only saw the field for three snaps on offense. Through his three games played, he does not have an offensive snap. He has been sharp on special teams as a returner, but with the majority of NFL teams simply kicking the ball out of the end zone on kickoffs now, that role is becoming less necessary every week.
Now, this doesn’t mean the end for Alexander in Detroit. He will likely be re-signed to the Lions practice squad and there’s a chance he is even called up to contribute again in the future. But for now, his role seems to be predicated by injuries to the receivers on the depth chart ahead of him.
The Lions have not announced a corresponding move, and they tend to keep these backend spots open throughout the week to have flexibility, but it’s worth pointing out that they still do not have a kicker signed to the active roster, and practice squader Michael Badgley has already used two of his three elevations allowed for the season.