The New England Patriots will jouster with the other 31 NFL teams to create their 10-man practice squad at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, Sept. 6. Practice squads continue to grow in size and eligibility, up from eight players historically, and with select veterans now eligible.
Teams generally prefer to sign their own players to the practice squad, which is why the wide concern of we won't be able to get him to our squad! is usually overblown. Teams keep players they don't think they can cut (a la Rufus Johnson and Eric Martin) and will usually be able to get their guys to the practice squad.
Here are the rules for players to be a part of the practice squad:
Practice Squad Eligibility Rules
Any player without an accrued season of NFL experience is eligible for the practice squad. An accrued season counts as six games on the active roster.
If a player has accrued a season of experience, they are still practice squad eligible if they were active on the 45-man game day roster for fewer than nine regular season games.
Teams are able to sign a maximum of two players with no more than two accrued seasons, to allow for additional players in the practice squad pool. The same 45-man active roster exception applies for these two accrued seasons.
Players with two seasons on the practice squad (which is counted as six games on the squad) are eligible for a third season if the team has had at least 53 players on its active/inactive roster for the length of the player's employment. Almost all players qualify for this point and it is to prevent teams from not filling their active roster while forcing players to remain on the practice squad.
Which key players are eligible?
These are the players to watch: Running back Jonas Gray, wide receivers Zack D'Orazio and Jalen Saunders, tight end Asante Cleveland, offensive linemen Chris Martin, Caylin Hauptmann, defensive lineman Zach Moore, Casey Walker, edge defender Xzavier Dickson, linebacker James Morris, cornerback Daxton Swanson, safety Brandon King
While there are more players eligible (full list here), these are the key players to watch.
12:05PM: The Patriots have their first PS target.
The Patriots plan to sign TE Asante Cleveland to the practice squad, according to a source.— Doug Kyed (@DougKyedNESN) September 6, 2015
Patriots make a few moves
7th round pick Xzavier Dickson has signed with the Patriots practice squad, per source— Kevin Duffy (@KevinRDuffy) September 6, 2015
The #Patriots signed Kenbrell Thompkins to their practice squad, a source said.— Rand Getlin (@Rand_Getlin) September 6, 2015
I'm also hearing it's the Patriots the plan is to sign Chris Barker to the practice squad, per source.— Mark Daniels (@MarkDanielsPJ) September 6, 2015
Brandon King, Xzavier Dickson, Dax Swanson, Darius Fleming, Asante Cleveland and a big WR wearing No. 15 are on the field. Assume that's PS.— Doug Kyed (@DougKyedNESN) September 6, 2015
Patriots have informed second-year OT Cameron Fleming that he is being released. Opens roster spot for DT Khyri Thornton, claimed on waivers— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) September 6, 2015