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Mailbag: Configuring A COVID-19 Practice Squad?


We like to think the practice squad is made up of players who were on the cusp of making the team when in reality it also must include numbers to round out practices for scrimmages. With the pandemic, do you expect teams to carry harder to replace specialized roles on their practice squad? What happens if LP or several deep snappers across the league gets the virus? — KEVIN GORDON / HOUSTON, TX

David: If you look at the composition of practices squads over the years, I think you'll find that teams often try to be as versatile as possible as a general rule. NFL clubs love to keep receivers and cornerbacks on the roster, because they have the athleticism to play several different positions. They love linebackers for their usefulness on special teams. In fact, I think in the scenario you're proposing, most teams probably have a linebacker or an extra lineman who could handle snapping duties. As always, the more you can do for the team, the better.

Jonny: I think a reality about those specialized roles is that there are a lot of people out there who can play those roles, but there are far fewer who can play them well. Just like is the case with injuries in the NFL every year, you always manage to replace players at any position, but L.P. has been on this team since the Bush administration for a reason: the next best option isn't as good.

We hear a lot about the Big 3 WR's, but not so much about the others. I'm interested in what chance Devin Smith has to make the team, and to have a chance to show his talents in games. I feel he was coming on in the first part of the season last year, and all of a sudden we didn't hear from him again. What's his status and what are his chances? — PEYTON RAWLS / PEARL, MS

David: I base this answer on no insider knowledge whatsoever, but I personally think Devin has the best chance of any receiver outside the Big 3. He's got the most NFL experience, he's got a very professional mindset, and it obviously helps that we know he can stretch the field. It still baffles me why the previous coaching staff wrote him off, but I like his odds to earn one of those roster spots.

Jonny: A lot could prove true about Devin Smith this year. I agree that he seems talented enough to be a fourth receiver on a good team. But the evaluations of that role aren't really what he can do in those scenarios, but whether he could step up if one of the top three receivers miss time. Cowboys will do a full evaluation of the depth chart. I expect Smith to make the team, but I would keep an eye on the undrafted free agents at the position.

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