According to The Athletic’s Matt Schneidman, the Green Bay Packers protected three practice-squaders this week: quarterback Kurt Benkert, kicker J.J. Molson, and long-snapper Steven Wirtel. Benkert, Molson, and Wirtel have been protected players in all six weeks of the regular season, with the designation preventing the other 31 NFL franchises from poaching those three players late in the week to their 53-man rosters.
The real news in this announcement is that wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown, who was the Packers’ fourth protected player in Week 4 and Week 5, is missing off of this week’s list. According to the COVID era rules that have been in place over the last two seasons, NFL teams can expand their roster to 55 players on game day, with two elevations from the practice squad, so long as the active roster on game day does not exceed 48 players.
After playing against the Detroit Lions, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Cincinnati Bengals, though, St. Brown’s ability to move up from the practice squad for game day has been exhausted, as there is a limit on how many times a player can move up to the active roster from the practice squad through this front office mechanic. If St. Brown plays again for the Packers in 2021, he must do so now as a full-fledged member of Green Bay’s 53-man roster, not as a late game day addition off of the practice squad.
According to Pro Football Reference, St. Brown played 29 offensive snaps and 26 special teams snaps for the Packers over those three games, though he has only been targeted twice offensively for one reception for zero yards. On special teams, he has made two tackles on the season. He has been the second-most-played wide receiver on special teams for the Packers this season, behind Malik Taylor (78 snaps) and ahead of punt returner Amari Rodgers (19 snaps), Allen Lazard (15 snaps), and Davante Adams (1 snap.)