What NFL’s Newly Introduced Practice Squad Rule Means For Patriots

Teams will have more roster flexibility this postseason

by

December 15, 2021

In an effort to increase player availability for the 2021 postseason, the NFL tweaked its practice squad regulations Wednesday.

Under the system put in place last season, players from the practice squad can be elevated to the gameday roster up to twice. After two standard elevations, the team would need to sign that player to its 53-man roster in order to use him again that season. (Elevations to replace players on the reserve/COVID-19 list do not count toward this limit.)

Wednesday’s rule change removes the elevation cap for playoff games, according to a memo shared by NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero, making any practice squad player eligible to play in the postseason regardless of prior participation.

Just one member of the New England Patriots’ current practice squad is out of standard elevations: defensive tackle Daniel Ekuale, who also appeared in a third game as a COVID replacement.

Ekuale has been productive in his limited playing time, tallying one sack against the New York Jets and another against the Buffalo Bills. Now, if the Patriots want to use him in a playoff game, they can do so without burning a roster spot.

Safety Sean Davis, end Matt LaCosse, wide receiver Kristian Wilkerson and offensive lineman Will Sherman all have been elevated once.

This rule change could prompt teams to be more liberal with their practice squad elevations late in the season, as they wouldn’t feel the need to save players for potential postseason call-ups. Teams still are permitted to make just two standard elevations per game.

The Patriots, who currently sit atop the AFC at 9-4, will visit the Indianapolis Colts this Saturday night before closing out the regular season with games against the Bills (home), Jacksonville Jaguars (home) and Miami Dolphins (road).

Thumbnail photo via Rich Barnes/USA TODAY Sports Images
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