The Washington Football Team is taking advantage of the rule changes on the practice squad, giving security to certain players.
The uncertainty of the 2020 offseason gave way to numerous rule changes and protocol modifications across the NFL. Some of those rule changes revolved around the practice squad — both its occupancy and its flexibility, and teams such as the Washington Football Team have already put them to use.
For the 2020 season, and quite possibly beyond, depending on how these changes develop, practice squads occupancies have been increased to 16 players across the league. Teams can elevate four of these players to be active on game day, and they can also protect four practice squad players from being poached by opposing teams per week.
Today, teams had their first chance to protect practice squad players, and well over half of the franchises got in on the action. The Washington Football Team was among them, as they chose to protect offensive guard Joshua Garnett, safety Jeremy Reaves, and wide receiver Cam Sims.
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Washington only used three of their four protected slots, but all three of their decisions make sense. Offensive guard, safety, and wide receiver are all positions that could use safety blankets, and all three of the chosen players have been around a few years, but also boast enough youth to market long-term utility.
Garnett received some first-team reps in camp at guard, but was ultimately cut and placed on the practice squad. Reaves roamed with the second and third-team defenses, and he provides added security at a position that has relatively little depth. Sims, meanwhile, flashed down the stretch in preseason, and might be needed at a moment’s notice if injury strikes the receiver room.
Notable names left unprotected by the Washington Football Team include defensive end Jordan Brailford, cornerback Aaron Colvin, tight end Hale Hentges, and developmental quarterback Steven Montez. Poaching in general is rare, so the threat of any players being poached is low, but by protecting certain players, Washington has made clear where the value lies.
Washington does have one spot remaining on their practice squad, as International Pathway Program defensive lineman David Bada allows them an extra slot. It remains to be seen whether they’re saving their final protected spot for their 17th player, or whether they’re still in deliberations as to who deserves that designation.