The Kansas City Chiefs made four roster moves on Thursday — two that are fairly minor, and two that are more significant.
The first is that defensive tackle Khalen Saunders — who has been on injured reserve since September 19 after dislocating his elbow in the Week 1 game against the Houston Texans — has been designated for return from IR. This gives the the team three weeks to get Saunders into game shape and be returned to the 53-man active roster. If he isn’t ready by that time, he’ll have to return to IR for the remainder of the season. When Saunders first went on the reserve list, we believed he would be out for a month; it’s possible he could be activated for the game against the Denver Broncos on Sunday.
The second is that offensive lineman Martinas Rankin, who is on the Active/Physically-Unable-to-Perform list, has returned to practice.
“He hasn’t done anything, so we’ll just see how it works out for him and kind of take that day by day too,” said Chiefs head coach Andy Reid when asked about Rankin. “Again, we just have to see. That’s why they have this in here for us, so you’ve got a three-week period there that you can work with, and let’s just see how he does and where he’s at right now.”
Rankin first went on the offseason version of PUP on July 31, but never returned from it before the final cutdown — forcing the team to put him on Reserve/PUP at the beginning of the season. Being on that list requires missing the first six games of the year. Now the Chiefs have 21 days to either activate Rankin or he stays on the list for the rest of the season.
Third, the Chiefs have moved quarterback Jordan Ta’amu back to the practice squad. As you’ll recall, Ta’amu was placed on the Reserve/COVID list after he tested positive for the novel coronavirus in advance of the Week 4 game against the New England Patriots; it was his positive test (along with the one reported for Patriots quarterback Cam Newton) that caused the game to be delayed from Sunday afternoon to Monday night.
Finally... the Chiefs have protected practice-squad guard Danny Isidora. This does not necessarily mean that Isidora will be moved to the active roster for the game — but it does mean the Chiefs want to have the option to do so; while he is under this single-week protection, Isidora cannot be signed by another team. Under the special rules in place for the 2020 season, teams are allowed to protect as many as four of their practice-squad players on a week-by-week basis. Some teams are protecting four each week, but the Chiefs have only done it on a few occasions — and then only for one or two players.
For now, Saunders does not count against the active roster. The Chiefs have just 52 players there, leaving a roster spot open for the second-year defensive tackle — or perhaps for fullback Anthony Sherman, who could potentially be eligible to return from the Reserve/COVID list before Sunday. With Ta’amu’s return, the Chiefs practice squad now sits at the 2020 maximum of 16 players.