Roster changes and challenges
Probably the biggest hurdle that the Detroit Lions and every other NFL team will have to make is finalizing their roster. With all the precautions being taken by the league just to try to get on the field and players being put on the COVID-19 list, the opportunity for coaches to assemble the best roster possible is being put to the test.
Meanwhile, the opportunities that fringe players will have to impress the coaching staff have been diminished. With no preseason games and contact between players seemingly being re-evaluated every day, this is a very difficult situation for players and coaches alike.
That being said, the league has instituted some new roster rules for this fall which will also have no shortage of impact on how each team decides to select their roster.
Each team will be allowed to have 48 players dressed for games instead of the usual 46 and the practice squad is expected to be expanded to 16 players. Teams will also be allowed to call up two players from the practice squad on game days without it counting against the 53 man roster.
Determining the final roster has always been a sort of strategy session, but it will be even more so this year. The league has done their best to give every team an opportunity to be ready at a moment’s notice to fill in holes on the roster that will inevitably arise from injuries or more to the point of all this, players testing positive to Covid-19.
The Lions already have eight players that have been placed on the Covid-19 reserve list. Quarterback Matthew Stafford, receiver Kenny Golladay, tight ends T.J. Hockenson and Issac Nauta, cornerbacks Amani Oruwariye and Justin Coleman, as well as punter Arryn Siposs and safety Jalen Elliott.
This of course doesn’t mean they have all been infected, but they have at least been in contact with someone who is infected.
This also doesn’t mean they will be out for the season, but any infected player has to be expected to be out for two weeks. It’s no different than a minor injury.
So the construction of the roster has just gotten murkier. In the past coaches have been unable to account for injuries they can’t see coming, now they have to be able to account for a pandemic that could strike at any moment, not just during practice or gameplay. This isn’t an easy situation.