Who the Bills protected on their practice squad for Week 16

Bills Wire

The Buffalo Bills announced who the team has placed on the protected portion of their practice squad ahead of their Week 16 meeting with the New England Patriots. The names come to us via the NFL’s transaction wire.

In 2020, the NFL implemented a new rule to help NFL teams deal with the outbreak of COVID-19. With the virus still causing the league to have a variety of safety protocols in place to prevent outbreaks, the protected portion of the practice squad is back.

These players are not allowed to be signed by another team the rest of this week. After game day, all are then fair game to be signed until the Bills name their protected players from their practice squad for the ensuing game.

This week, the Bills are back to only using three of their four slots. Those are:

  • DT Eli Ankou
  • DB Nick McCloud
  • WR Isaiah Hodgins

Sometimes we can potentially connect some injury-related dots to these protections. This time, we can’t.

Rather, this week’s hint has to do with the COVID-19 list.

Hodgins was protected for the first time this season likely to provide depth because wide receiver Cole Beasley will be out against the Patriots. He was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list.

In terms of Ankou, he has been protected for numerous games this season.

McCloud is a new addition, however, he replaces Josh Thomas, essentially. Thomas has bee protected numerous times this season but not this week. Both Thomas and McCloud are defensive backs.

The reason for the Bills not using the fourth and final spot is to leave themselves flexibility in case another player has to be added to it as a depth option later this week. That likely has to do with COVID-19 issues sweeping the NFL currently.

For more reference on the protected portion of the practice squad, here is our explanation of it from last season when it was introduced:

Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic in the United States, the NFL’s owners and players came to an offseason agreement that we’ve seen the first installment of on Tuesday evening. Each team in the league can “protect” four players on their practice squad each week.

The idea is to provide some extra depth for teams in case of a COVID-19 outbreak in a locker room late in the week prior to a Sunday or Monday game. Those four can be called up to the active