Practice squads were expanded from 10 to 12 players with the NFL and NFLPA’s new CBA agreement established this offseason.
Due to the current coronavirus pandemic, the NFL opted to increase the practice squad even more.
Teams now have 16 total spots they can use -- with up to six veterans, no matter their number of years of experience.
Another novel rule this season is the option to protect certain players on the practice squad.
There will still be a window where any of the 16 players will be able to be poached. But, after 4 p.m. EST on Tuesday, organizations will be able to designate four individuals that can’t be touched by other teams.
Important to note, the four protected players can be changed from week to week.
In essence, this gives teams that are weak at a certain position the ability to have backups or additional reserve options if need be.
Teams are also allowed to call up two practice squad players per game without having to cut another from the 53-man roster.
In theory, the 53-man roster can become a 55-man roster on game days.
After the game, they revert back to the practice squad without being subjected to the standard waivers process.
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However, if a practice squad player is called up for active duty on three occasions throughout the season, they will revert to the old waiver protocol after the third game.
Given the fact that it takes five days to get a new signee even into the building, last-minute signings to replace injured players will be incredibly difficult this season. Hence, the reason for more flexibility surrounding roster construction.
This entire COVID-19 ordeal is still very fluid, and it feels like the NFL is adjusting rules as it goes.
At this juncture, it would appear the practice squad is going to play a much larger role in 2020, especially if a team develops an unfortunate run of positive COVID-19 tests.
In regard to the Lions, there are plenty of bubble players and losers of training camp battles that will benefit from these amendments.
Even if a participant is not on the active roster, that doesn’t mean the individual can’t see some live regular-season action at some point.