What is the philosophy and approach to filling the practice squad? Is it simply taking the next-best 16 players after roster cuts, regardless of position? Or do they look for balance and needs compared to the final 53-man roster? Any players you think are must-haves for the practice squad now? – David Nystrom/Loudon, TN
Mickey: Yes, the practice squad is pieced together like a puzzle. Sure, initially players with a future needing more seasoning are the first choices. But after that, the Cowboys like selecting players to fulfil certain positions to man the scout teams. And sure helps if players can man multiple positions on the scout team, especially linemen who can go both ways. Another consideration is putting guys on the practice squad capable of being game day callups. For instance, there is a good chance the Cowboys will use a combination of Matt Farniok, Brock Hoffman and Alec Lindstrom to fulfill the backup center spot on game day and remember each guy can only be elevated three times during the season. Also, with some guys placed on the practice squad, they will be there for their three callups, like for special teams purposes, and then be signed to the 53-man roster to replace maybe an injured player having to go on injured reserve. The NFL sure has helped player development by expanding the practice squad to 16.
Nick Harris: Filling the practice squad is typically circumstantial, but mostly it's a healthy balance of taking the next-best players along with taking players at key positions of need. For example, it wouldn't surprise me if an interior lineman or two make it back on the roster simply because there's a need there. But in addition to that, Isaiah Land is a lock to make the practice squad if he clears waivers along with Jalen Cropper, and those positions aren't necessarily at groups of need. All in all, a healthy balance is what is most beneficial.