After the Bills were forced to cut their roster down to 53 players on Saturday, they can now start forming the Buffalo Bills practice squad. Who have they already added?
Practice squads can be very valuable to our Buffalo Bills during the season, giving young players time to develop and prepare in case of an injury to one of the starters — or even backups.
After the deadline for NFL teams to knock their rosters down to 53 players hit on Saturday, teams were allowed to begin formulating their practice squads. Before we get into who the Bills have added so far, I think we should go over what exactly the practice squad is.
In short, an NFL practice squad is made up of 10 players that the team didn’t have room for on the 53-man roster, but still wanted to keep close to the team for development reasons. With a much lower salary and very low risk to keeping these players, it gives the team a low-cost, low-risk way of keeping depth. It’s important to note that these players aren’t on the active roster until promoted.
Not just anybody can be signed to the practice team, though. Here’s a quick list of the requirements for a player to be added to the practice squad:
- If a player has spent at least six games of two different seasons on any team’s 53-man roster, they are ineligible.
- If a player has spent more than 3 seasons on a practice squad for any team, they are ineligible to be signed to a practice squad.
- With a new rule, it was decided that six weeks — instead of the usual htree weeks — spent on a practice squad is equivalent to a whole season of practice squad eligibility. This means if a player has spent five weeks on a practice squad in one season, it doesn’t actually count as a full season on the practice squad.
- Teams can only have 10 players on their practice squad.
- If added to a practice squad, the player can be signed by another team, but only if they are added directly to their 53-man roster.
Now that we have a better idea of what the practice squad is, let’s get to the recent news that surfaced regarding the Buffalo Bills practice squad.
If you don’t recall, both of these players were given an opportunity to shine this training camp and preseason as both were in tight position battles. They also each let other players win those battles, ultimately leading to neither of them making the 53-man roster. It seems the Bills saw some kind of potential in keeping them, though.
Let’s start with Jordan Gay, who has been the team’s kickoff specialist for the past two years after being claimed off of waivers from the Carolina Panthers. Coming into training camp, he was in a battle with Dan Carpenter to become the team’s main kicker. The Bills were finally ready to get rid of having two kickers on their roster, with many fans voicing that it was a waste of a roster spot.
Once training camp started, it was clear who was ready to win that position and it wasn’t Gay. Carpenter quickly saw his foot set on fire as he proved that he still had his accuracy. In fact, he was proving that it was very, very difficult for him to miss a field goal. On the other hand, Gay was struggling and come preseason, he missed his only field goal attempt and 1 of 2 extra point kicks.
Adding him to the practice squad could mean that they still have faith in him as a player and would like to see him develop. Could this possibly mean the team still isn’t sold that Carpenter can handle the team’s kicking? Or could it just be a way of keeping Carpenter on his toes, since we’ve seen what adding competition has done to him.
It’s also possible that they bring him back as the team’s kick off specialist mid-season. Right now, touchbacks will bring the football to the 25 yard line for the start of the season. However, NFL officials could change the rule back to the original 20 yard line touchback rule after Week 4. If so, the Bills would activate Gay to the 53-man roster to handle the kickoffs — which would mean a higher rate of touchbacks and less returns for the opposing team at a less cost.
The Bills also added wide receiver Dezmin Lewis to the practice squad, who also had a big chance of cracking the 53-man roster. It was a very crowded wide receiver crew throughout training camp and preseason, but only a few players stood out. Unfortunately, Lewis struggled to bring that “wow” factor that Rex Ryan and Greg Roman love in their offensive players.
Lewis found himself on the team’s practice squad last year and was only featured in one game for the Bills. He was drafted by the team in the seventh round of the 2015 NFL Draft. There seems to be a lot of potential with Lewis if he can continue to work hard, it just seems the time is not now.
However, at least we know of at least one person the Bills can turn to in the event of an injury to a wide receiver. With Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin’s history of injuries, he could come in to play a role for this team later in the season. Obviously, we hope none of that happens.
After adding Lewis and Gay, the team has eight spots remaining. Remember, these are players that are going to get to practice with the team each week. These players will be the first players the team looks to in case of an injury because they already have a grasp of the plays and schemes the Bills run — making them just as valuable as the starters.
The Bills are currently preparing for their regular season opener against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. Stay tuned as the team continues to fill out their practice squad.
Are you excited that the team brought back Lewis and Gay or do you think they could’ve went with someone else? Who would you like to see them add for their remaining 8 spots? Leave your comments below!
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