LA Rams practice squad has evolved

Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports /
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LA Rams practice squad
Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports /

The LA Rams 16 man practice squad certainly has evolved this season. But in which direction?

The LA Rams practice squad certainly has been a good source for the Rams developmental players to eventually find their way to the team’s 53-man active roster. And historically, that has been how the Rams organization has viewed the best use of the practice squad for the organization. But 2020 rules have changed the charter of the squad, and that has slowly begun to change the way the LA Rams viewed its usefulness.

In 2019, NFL teams were authorized to sign and carry 10 additional players on a practice squad to enable teams to conduct practices each week with a sufficient number of players who, when combined with the 53-man roster, allowed the team to simulate the plays of their upcoming opponents. But things began to change in 2020. With the ratification of the new NFL-NFLPA collective bargaining agreement, the size of the practice squad was expanded to 12 players in 2020-21 and once more to 14 players beginning in 2022.

Rules and roles

The rules changed in 2020 once more when the NFL and NFLPA were forced to rewrite the rule book to compensate for the risks of the coronavirus pandemic. Suddenly, players and staff were faced with the reality of competing in an NFL season during a national health risk. Protocols and strict measures were taken to ensure any player who tested positive could be quarantined until he no longer tests positive for COVID-19.

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Practice squads were increased to 16 players to allow teams to carry additional players on the roster to replace players who test positive.  Initially, teams did not take that ‘in case of emergency’ planning into consideration as teams signed the players to their practice squad roster. Initially, the additional roster spots added became a place to maintain promising prospects who were not fully evaluated in the condensed version of the 2020 training camp.