Chiefs Elevate Harrison Butker’s Replacement to Active Roster

Getty Chicago Bears kicker Elliott Fry (#8).

With no kicker on the 53-man roster at the start of Week 16, the Kansas City Chiefs promote one from the practice squad.

The Chiefs have elevated kicker Elliott Fry from the practice squad to the 53-man roster, according to the NFL’s official transaction wire.

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Fry, 27, signed a reserve/futures contract with the Carolina Panthers in December of 2019, according to Pro Football Reference. But interest in him in the NFL didn’t fully spark until he spent some time in the Alliance of American Football (AAF) in the spring of 2020. During the lone season of AAF’s existence, Fry made all 14 of his field-goal attempts with a long of 47 yards, per The Football Database.

Since then, Fry has spent time with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and most recently the Atlanta Falcons. Atlanta signed Fry in October of 2020 and retained him via the practice squad throughout the better part of the 2021 season. However, the Falcons opted to release Fry from the practice squad on November 17.

Kansas City signed Fry to the practice squad on December 15.

Fry’s promotion comes in wake of tight end Travis Kelce, kicker Harrison Butker, and cornerback Charvarius Ward being three of the 51 NFL players that were placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday, December 20. Kelce is vaccinated, which gives him the opportunity to test his way back into the lineup before the Chiefs face the Pittsburgh Steelers at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday, December 26.

NFL Revises COVID Protocols in Week 15

The NFL and NFLPA announced a revised version of the COVID-19 protocols on Saturday, December 18, which will reduce the frequency with which vaccinated, asymptomatic players and personnel are tested.

​”The NFL and NFLPA have been engaged with our medical advisors to address the emergence of the new Omicron variant and how to stop the spread to ensure we keep everyone safe and complete the remainder of the season responsibly,” the NFL and NFLPA said in a joint statement.

“The intensive protocols implemented last week and the rescheduling of three games were designed to stop the transmission of the virus and play this week’s games safely. After this weekend’s games, we have agreed to put into place a new set of protocols, which will include a more targeted testing plan, more flexibility for players to attend meetings virtually and also a high-risk player opt-out for the remainder of the season.”

Under the former version of the COVID-19 protocols, players and personnel — regardless of their vaccination status — were tested every week. Under the new guidelines, vaccinated players and personnel will not be tested as frequently and instead will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms. Also, players are welcome to undergo voluntary COVID-19 testing whenever they would like, and teams will distribute home testing kits for their players and families to use, per ESPN’s Dan Graziano.

New High for Player Positives Set on Monday

The 51 players placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday smashed the former high for player positives in the NFL on a single day, 36, which was previously set on Monday, December 14.

Since that Monday, 213 NFL players have tested positive for COVID-19, per Pelissero, which is nearly 10% of the entire league. However, “roughly” two-thirds of players that tested positive are asymptomatic, meanwhile, the other third of those players have mild symptoms.

​”Throughout the pandemic we have continuously evolved our protocols to meet our goal of advancing the safety of the players, coaches and staff. The changes we are making today aim to address the increase in cases and the advent of the Omicron variant,” the NFL said in a statement on Thursday, December 16.

“Effective immediately, all clubs will implement preventative measures that have proven effective: masking regardless of vaccination status, remote or outdoor meetings, eliminating in-person meals, and no outside visitors while on team travel. We will continue to strongly encourage booster shots as the most effective protection. Finally, and based on expert advice, we will adjust the return-to-participation requirements for those who have recovered from COVID-19. All of these changes are grounded in our data and science-backed approach, with safety our number-one goal for the entire NFL community.”


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