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NFL announces extended practice squad, COVID replacements, for 2021

The NFL has decided to keep several rules in place for the 2021 season which were started during the 2020 season.

Pittsburgh Steelers v New York Jets Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

During the 2020 season the National Football League made several adjustments to their normal protocols to help with the COVID-19 protocols which were set forth during the pandemic.

With the calendar now turned to 2021, and the pandemic still hanging around, the league has decided to continue with several of the protocols which were set forth last season.

One of the rules which will be continued is how NFL teams can handle players who are put on Injured Reserve.

“The relaxed injured reserve rules adopted for 2020 will be utilized in 2021, in order to ensure maximum flexibility in an age of lingering COVID concerns. Also, according to the NFL, teams will be permitted to have up to 16 players on the practice squad.”

Also, how NFL teams elevated players from the practice squad will also carry over from the 2020 season.

“In addition to the rule allowing two members of the practice squad to be elevated each week to the 53-man roster (making it a 55-man group from which the 46-man game-day roster can be selected), practice squad players can be freely elevated as replacements for players who land on the COVID-19 reserve list.”

The fluid movement from the practice squad to the game day roster can be frustrating for some, but is a good rule to keep in place to ensure NFL teams aren’t short staffed if changes need to be made.

Lastly, the rule of NFL teams having 90 minutes before kickoff to make adjustments to their game day roster, in case of a positive COVID test, remains in tact for 2021.

“Like last year, players from the practice-squad can be promoted up to 90 minutes before kickoff to replace players who, for example, test positive on the morning of a game.

“The goal is to ensure that there will be enough players to play on any/every given Sunday (and Monday and Thursday and Saturday and any other day). With 69 total players on the broader team at any given time, that should be enough to ensure that enough will be able to suit up and play.”

These protocols seem to be based around common sense, and it is good to see the NFL utilizing this philosophy, for once. In the meantime, as NFL teams have to make their first round of cuts this Tuesday, they will know they have more spots on the practice squad if players aren’t picked up by another organization.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers as they prepare for the 2021 regular season.