The Cowboys have added another veteran defensive back. NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reports (via Twitter) that Dallas has added cornerback Xavier Rhodes to the practice squad.
Rhodes caught on with the Bills practice squad back in September, and he got into two games (one start) before earning his walking papers earlier this week. The 32-year-old made a name for himself in Minnesota, where he started 97 games across seven seasons. During that time, he made three Pro Bowl appearances and earned an All-Pro nod. He spent two seasons with the Colts before joining Buffalo.
With Jourdan Lewis and Anthony Brown down with injuries, the Cowboys have mostly turned to veterans to help fill their secondary. As ESPN’s Todd Archer points out on Twitter, the Cowboys have also signed veterans Mackensie Alexander and Trayvon Mullen in recent weeks, with Archer adding that Rhodes’ experience is a big reason why the Cowboys pursued him.
The Cowboys made some additional moves in anticipation of tomorrow’s game against the Commanders. Archer reports (via Twitter) that Dallas has signed offensive lineman Dakoda Shepley from the practice squad to the active roster. The Cowboys have also used standard elevations on offensive tackle Alex Taylor and safety Tyler Coyle. Offensive lineman Tyler Biadasz suffered a high ankle sprain in Week 17 while Matt Farniok isn’t entirely ready to return from IR, necessitating the extra OL depth.
Benford stepped up early in the season for Buffalo. In a stacked position room, Benford started in place of an injured Tre’Davious White to begin the year, earning the role over first-round rookie Kaiir Elam and fifth-year cornerback Siran Neal. Elam would eventually work his way into the starting role, but Benford has remained a reliable option, starting the past two games that Elam has missed.
Despite the stacked room led by White, Dane Jackson, and nickel starter Taron Johnson and backed by Elam, Benford, and Neal, injuries have limited the production of the position group. Injury absences from White, Elam, and Benford have made it necessary to have a player like Rhodes available when needed.
Rhodes was called up for his Bills debut last week with White and Elam both on the sideline. The 32-year-old will officially join the active roster as Benford’s oblique injury threatens to keep him out for at least four games. White, who’s making his 2022 debut as he returns from last year’s ACL injury, may be on a limited snap count and, with White’s normal replacements, Elam and Benford, out, the door is open for Rhodes to make an impact in his second game of the season. The Bills will likely trot out White, Jackson, and Johnson as their starting three corners, with Rhodes and Neal close by on the sideline to fill in for White when needed.
As Rhodes leaves the practice squad, the team has added veteran former Bills wide receiver John Brown and undrafted rookie defensive tackle C.J. Brewer to their taxi squad.
Two veterans that have been stashed on the Bills practice squad are set to make their season debuts for the team this week. Buffalo has elevated cornerback Xavier Rhodes and running back Duke Johnson for this weekend’s matchup against the Vikings.
The Bills are extremely deep at cornerback, but an injury to first-round rookie Kaiir Elam has him currently listed as doubtful going into Sunday. With Elam out, Dane Jackson would be expected to start opposite Tre’Davious White at cornerback, with Taron Johnson and Siran Neal providing key snaps off the bench. That’s still a reliable amount of depth but adding the veteran Rhodes will provide the Bills with just a bit more security if Elam can’t play.
This has been an interestingly quiet season for Rhodes, who started at least 13 games in every season dating back to his sophomore season before this year. The longtime shutdown cornerback for the Vikings spent two years doing more of the same in Indianapolis before signing to the Bills practice squad in the offseason. After eight years as a fulltime starter, coming in off the practice squad is an unfamiliar role for the 32-year-old.
The Bills traded for another former Colt in running back Nyheim Hines at the deadline in an attempt to bring in a back who can catch passes out of the backfield, something that the team was lacking with Devin Singletary, Zack Moss, and James Cook. The elevation of Johnson from the practice squad may indicate that Hines is not totally comfortable enough with the playbook to take hold of that role yet.
Johnson spent the majority of his career as one of the league’s premier pass-catching running backs. Over his career, Johnson has more receiving yards (2,870) than rushing yards (2,261). He’s an effective weapon, even at 29-years-old, that the Bills have kept stashed on the practice squad all year. Johnson was given an opportunity to start for a depleted Dolphins team last year and rewarded them with two 100-yard rushing performances and three touchdowns in four starts.
Many, including NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, noted that Buffalo was not elevating quarterbackMatt Barkley, indicating that the team is confident that starter Josh Allen will be able to play after sustaining an elbow sprain last week. Allen had been limited in practice this week but was able to grip the ball and provide enough for the Bills staff to show that he can start.
The hits keep coming for the Bills’ secondary. Veteran cornerback Xavier Rhodes, who signed with Buffalo just a few days ago, has been placed on the team’s practice squad injured list (Twitter link via ESPN’s Field Yates). Head coach Sean McDermott said that Rhodes sustained a hamstring injury (Twitter link via Chris Brown of OneBillsLive).
Buffalo’s top corner, two-time Pro Bowler Tre’Davious White, began the season on the PUP list and will therefore miss at least one more game as he continues to recover from an ACL tear. Fellow starter Dane Jacksonsuffered a neck injury in Week 2, and rookie Christian Benfordfractured his hand during last Sunday’s loss to the Dolphins. That is not to mention safety Micah Hyde‘s season-ending neck injury or safety Jordan Poyer‘s foot ailment, which kept him out of the Miami contest and which rendered him questionable for the Bills’ Week 4 matchup against the Ravens.
The practice squad injured list operates under the same rules as the injured reserve. In other words, Rhodes will be forced to miss at least the next four games, at which point there may no longer be a roster spot for him. Indeed, Jackson returned to practice this week and is expected to suit up for the Baltimore game, as Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic tweets. The hope is that White will return shortly, and while Benford will miss time, he could nonetheless beat Rhodes back to the field.
Furthermore, even though Rhodes is on the taxi squad injured list, his activation from that list would still count as one of the Bills’ eight “return from IR” designations. It is possible that the team would elect against using such a designation on a player that had minimal practice time and never appeared in a game.
Rhodes, therefore, could be a free agent again in a few weeks and could be of interest to another team in need of secondary depth.
September 27th, 2022 at 9:05pm CST by Adam La Rose
9:04pm: Buffalo will move ahead with a signing. The former Vikings and Colts corner agreed to join the team Tuesday night, Garafolo reports (on Twitter). Rhodes will rejoin Frazier and help out a cornerback corps suddenly in dire need. It is a practice squad agreement.
10:09am: With plenty of injuries in their secondary, the Bills could be adding a veteran in the near future. Buffalo is hosting cornerback Xavier Rhodes on a visit, per Mike Garafolo of NFL Network (Twitter link).
A first-round pick of the Vikings in 2013, Rhodes spent the first seven seasons of his career in Minnesota. That stretch included three Pro Bowl selections, and the 2017 campaign in which he earned First-Team All-Pro honors. Across 104 games with the Vikings, Rhodes racked up 10 interceptions and 73 pass breakups.
His time there ended on a low note, however. Despite having three years remaining on the five-year extension he had signed, the Florida State product was released in a cost-cutting move in 2020. That led him to the Colts, where he was a full-time starter and registered a pair of interceptions. Given his performance, Indianapolis signed him to another one-year deal last March, though Rhodes saw a lower snap share and took a step back in terms of coverage statistics in 2021.
Rhodes could also reunite with Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, who was the Vikings’ head coach during his rookie season. Given Buffalo’s current injury situation, a deal could see him take the field right away, and give him the opportunity to boost his free agent stock while stabilizing an important position for one of the AFC’s top contenders.