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Steelers announce the 4 protected players on the practice squad for Week 1

The Pittsburgh Steelers have announced who they are protecting on their practice squad heading into Week 1.

NFL: Preseason-Pittsburgh Steelers at Carolina Panthers Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The 2020 season is different. Maybe different isn’t the best adjective to describe it.

It is unique.

There are so many aspects of this season which are new, and also just for this year, and one of those is the expanded practice squad. Not only did the practice squad expand to 16 players, but each team can also carry 6 vested veterans within that group.

On top of all that, each team can protect four players per week from being poached off their practice squad by other organizations. Each week a list will be released showing all 32 teams’ protected players.

Here is Week 1’s list per Albert Breer of MMQB:

For the Pittsburgh Steelers, they have chosen the following four players protected heading into the Week 1 Monday Night Football game against the New York Giants:

LB Jayrone Elliott
DL Henry Mondeaux
DB Curtis Riley
RB Wendell Smallwood

How are these decisions made? Teams could value these players over others for multiple reasons, or it could be based on injuries at a specific position. It should be reminded how practice squad players could be called up to the active roster on game day if players are ruled out due to COVID-19 protocols.

Just another way the 2020 season will look different, but not necessarily in a bad way. The question which runs through my mind is whether the NFL will just adopt some of these rules in the future and moving forward? Only time will tell, but there is a lot to get used to approaching the regular season.