Per a team announcement, the Bills have placed DT Star Lotulelei on the reserve/COVID-19 list, thereby rendering him ineligible for today’s game against the Jets. Fellow DT Brandin Bryant has been elevated from the taxi squad to take Lotulelei’s place on the active roster, as Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic tweets.
Lotulelei, who will turn 32 next month, is in the midst of a five-year, $50MM deal he signed in 2018. He exercised his right to opt out of the 2020 season due to COVID concerns, which tolled his contract and keeps him under club control through 2023. He landed on the reserve/COVID-19 list in August, but he returned for Buffalo’s Week 2 win over Miami and has started each of his seven games this season.
Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics have not been high on Lotulelei’s work in some time, and that trend has continued this year. Though his 66.8 pass rush grade is above average — he does have two sacks this year, which matches his 16-game total in 2019 — his overall mark of 53.1 positions him as the 86th-best interior defender out of 124 qualifiers. Still, he typically plays the most snaps in Buffalo’s D-line rotation, so his absence will be noticed.
As Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk observes, it is believed that Lotulelei is unvaccinated. That is because the 2013 first-rounder previously needed to isolate for five days following a close contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19, something that only an unvaccinated player would be required to do.
There is some good news to pass along for Bills fans. As Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets, RB Zack Moss, who suffered a concussion in last week’s loss to the Jaguars, has cleared protocols and will be able to play this afternoon. Moss and Devin Singletary have shared RB duties this year, but Singletary has been the better performer from a YPC perspective. Moss has mustered just 3.6 yards per carry on 65 attempts, while Singletary has posted a strong 4.9 YPC mark on 73 carries.
Moss, however, has been more effective as a receiver out of the backfield, catching 18 balls for 166 yards and a score.