The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the regular season, following the most unique offseason in the NFL since at least World War II. While it didn’t involve a player lockout, teams still did not have physical access to their players, though they were at least able to meet with them virtually.
Even training camp looked much different from the norm, and a big part of that was the fact that there will be no games along the way to prepare for. Their first football game of the year was to be the opener against the New York Giants.
As the season progresses, however, there will be a number of questions that arise on a daily basis, and we will do our best to try to raise attention to them as they come along, in an effort to both point them out and to create discussion
Questions like, how will the players who are in new positions this year going to perform? Will the rookies be able to contribute significantly? How will Ben Roethlisberger look—and the other quarterbacks as well? Now, we even have questions about whether or not players will be in quarantine.
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: How often will the Steelers (or any other team) actually make use of the opportunity to dress practice squad players for games this season?
As part of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement that was signed back in March—long before any further alterations were made relative to the Covid-19 complications—new expansions to the practice squad were made, initially expanding the practice squad to 12 (and eventually 14) players.
In addition, beginning in 2020, teams are permitted to elevate up to two players from the practice squad to the gameday active list per game per season. The caveat is that each player may only be elevated in this way two times per season, so if the team wants to dress, for example, Jayrone Elliott for a third time, he would have to be promoted to the 53-man roster.
Practice squad players who are elevated to the active list are considered the 54th or 55th members of the roster for that game and immediately revert back to the practice squad on the first business day after the game, with no alteration of their status or anybody else’s status or contract.
While this option is available to teams, one would think that anybody teams would want to be playing would have made the 53-man roster. This would be used primarily to address short-term injuries—for example, again, dressing Elliott in case Olasunkanmi Adeniyi misses one or two weeks with an ankle injury.