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Bill Belichick backs idea of expanding practice squads from 8 to 10 players

08.19.14 at 5:26 pm ET
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FOXBORO — The NFL announced Tuesday that the practice squad for each team will be expanded from eight to 10 players in 2014. Patriots coach Bill Belichick said that the idea of having a a couple of extra practice squadders on the roster is a good thing:

“I think the reality of it is that those are probably the players that are going to get signed in the first few weeks of the season when teams have needs at that position,” Belichick said Tuesday afternoon. “If they’€™re not with any team and they’€™re available then those are the kind of guys that you can go out and add on to your team — some of them.

“Now, there are some older veterans that you would do that with too, but certainly those first, second-year guys that maybe made the team last year so their practice squad eligibility is up and this year they don’€™t make the team or a team and you get into the season, three, four weeks into the season and instead of going with a rookie, you look at a player like that. So, ‘€˜Here’€™s what he did last year. He’€™s got six, eight, 10, 12 games of experience, whatever it is, didn’€™t quite make the roster.’€™ That guy might be the roster.

“That guy might be a guy over the rookie, might be over a rookie on your practice squad too. I think keeping those guys in the system, it’€™s probably a lot of the same guys that are going to be signed. The only reason they weren’€™t on the practice squad last year was because they weren’€™t eligible, not because they weren’€™t wanted but they just, by rule, you couldn’€™t do it. I would imagine a lot of those guys would show up there.”

The league has also announced some changes when it comes to practice squad eligibility. From the press release:

The criteria for Practice Squad eligibility has been expanded in two respects.

First, a player must have a minimum of six games –€“ up from the current three games –€“ on a Practice Squad in order for that season to count as one of the player’€™s three permissible seasons of Practice Squad service.

Second, each club will be permitted to sign a maximum of two Practice Squad players who have earned no more than two accrued seasons of free agency credit. Absent this exception, a player who has earned one or more accrued seasons would not be eligible for a Practice Squad unless the player spent fewer than nine games on a club’€™s 46-player active list in each of his accrued seasons.

All other practice squad rules under Article 33 of the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement will remain in effect during the 2014 and 2015 seasons.

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