With Coronavirus cases spiking across the NFL this week — a total of 151 players tested positive between Monday and Friday alone — the league were forced to make some adjustments. Protocols were modified, games had to be postponed, and a plan was introduced to give teams more roster flexibility during the postseason.
According to a report by NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, the NFL will give its 14 playoff teams unlimited practice squad promotions for the duration of the tournament. Previously, those were capped at two per player each season.
For a player to see additional game-day action he either had to be signed to the 53-man roster or called up as a Covid-19 replacement. Starting with the wild card round, however, clubs will be able to promote players regardless of their status or how often they were called up during the regular season.
The New England Patriots have used multiple practice squad players this year, but only one has actually exhausted his available promotions: defensive tackle Daniel Ekuale, who was added to the game-day roster in Weeks 7 and 8 as a standard elevation. He was given a third chance in Week 13 after safety Kyle Dugger and running back J.J. Taylor were sent to the Coronavirus reserve list.
With the Patriots currently having two active players on reserve/Covid-19 — Taylor and offensive lineman Yasir Durant — Ekuale is a candidate to be promoted again, possible against the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday. Regardless, the NFL’s rule change will help him make the game-day roster again regardless of New England’s Coronavirus situation.