The Redskins’ newly-minted 53-man roster takes the practice field this morning. They will do so without a practice squad. That group will start to be assembled after noon today when they find out which of the practice-squad eligible players they cut have cleared waivers.
All players with fewer than two accrued NFL seasons are eligible for the practice squad. A team also can have four players who have two full accrued seasons. The limit is 10 players. They are paid a minimum of $7,200 per week, although a team can pay more if it thinks it needs to in order to keep a player, who can sign with another team, from getting poached. Practice squad salaries are charged against the salary cap.
Who among the players the Redskins cut is eligible? It’s easier to say who isn’t eligible. The only one who can’t sign on the practice squad is S Will Blackmon. The other players who were released have eligibility except for those with an injury designation. That makes 29 players available.
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One thing to keep in mind is that teams don’t just pick the 10 best players they cut, the ones they ranked from 54-63, and offer them practice squad spots. They need to assemble a practice squad to help them, well, practice. The composition of the 53-man roster has a lot to do with who gets offered a practice squad job.
For example, the Redskins have 27 defensive players on the roster including five inside linebackers. This means that there will be few opportunities for defensive players in general and for ILBs in particular. That is bad news for fans of Nico Marley. They just don’t need a sixth ILB in practice and if one on the roster suffers a short-term injury they have enough bodies at the position to get by.
Looking at other areas on defense, having five safeties on the roster is not good for Fish Smithson fans and having five outside linebackers means that Pete Robertson may have to seek employment elsewhere.
On the defensive line, however, they only kept six, giving opportunities for A.J. Francis, Joey Mbu, and Brandon Banks.
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With only 23 of the 53 on offense, there will be more practice squad opportunity on that side of the ball. There are eight offensive linemen, meaning that players like Kyle Kalis and John Kling could get offers. They also could look for a promising lineman who was cut by another team.
There also will be spots for wide receivers with only five on the 53. The scout team needs lots of receivers to practice against opponents’ multiple WR looks. They likely will carry two or three of them on the practice squad. Sixth-round pick Robert Davis and surprise cut Maurice Harris are almost sure to be offered spots. So could two receivers who performed well in camp, Matt Hazel or Zach Pascal
On the other hand, there is no need to keep a running back or a tight end, with four from each of those positions on the 53-man roster
Going on the assumption that all the Redskins’ players clear waivers and are available for the practice squad, here is a stab at who might make it.
- WR Maurice Harris
- WR Robert Davis
- WR Matt Hazel
- G Kyle Kalis
- T John Kling
- C Lucas Crowley
- QB Nate Sudfeld
- DL Joey Mbu
- DL Brandon Banks
- DL Ondre Pipkins
Of course, they could add players cut by other teams so the pool of available players is not limited to those waived yesterday.
The practice squad will be assembled over the next few days with the goal of being ready to go by Wednesday when the real preparations for the opener against the Eagles get underway.