Bills who benefit from practice squad tweak

PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- It's not the type of development that makes headlines, but the NFL tweaked its practice squad rules Tuesday for the first time since 2004.

Teams may now carry a maximum of 10 players on their practice squad, up from eight players. In addition, eligibility for the practice squad has also been broadened:

  • Players must now be on a practice squad for a minimum of six games for that season to count against their eligibility. Players may be on a practice squad for a maximum of three seasons, so if they were only on a practice squad for five games in any given season, that won't count. Previously the minimum was three games.

  • Secondly, and more importantly, teams may sign to their practice squad up to two players who have up to two accrued seasons of free-agency credit. For the other eight players on the practice squad, they can have spent no more than nine games on a 46-man roster in any given season.

Essentially, the second tweak widely expands who is eligible for a practice squad. In the past, a player like T.J. Graham -- who was on the 46-man roster for 16 games last season -- would not be eligible. But now Graham is automatically eligible until after he accrues his third season in the NFL.

With that in mind, let's examine which Bills players were already eligible for the practice squad on the previous rules:

Offense: QB Dennis Dixon, RB Ronnie Wingo, WR Sammy Watkins, WR Caleb Holley, WR Chris Summers, TE Dominique Jones, OT Seantrel Henderson, OT Cyrus Kouandjio, G Cyril Richardson, G Antoine McClain, G Jared Wheeler, G J.J. Unga, C Macky MacPherson

Defense: DE Jacquies Smith, DE Ikponmwosa Igbinosun, DE Bryan Johnson, DT Stefan Charles, DT Damien Jacobs, LB Preston Brown, LB Randell Johnson, LB Ty Powell, LB Jimmy Gaines, LB Xavius Boyd, CB Ross Cockrell, CB Bobby Felder, CB Kamaal McIlwain, CB Sam Miller, S Jonathan Meeks, S Kenny Ladler, S Derek Brim, S Deon Broomfield, S JaJuan Harley

Special teams: K Dustin Hopkins, P Jake Dombrowski

Under the rule change, the following players are now eligible in addition to the players above:

Offense: QB EJ Manuel, QB Jeff Tuel, RB Bryce Brown, WR Robert Woods, WR Chris Hogan, WR T.J. Graham, WR Marquise Goodwin, WR Naaman Roosevelt, FB Frank Summers, FB Evan Rodriguez, TE Chris Gragg, OT Cordy Glenn, OT Chris Hairston

Defense: DT Corbin Bryant, LB Nigel Bradham, CB Stephon Gilmore, CB Nickell Robey, CB Ron Brooks, S Duke Williams

The Bills can sign a maximum of two of the second group of players to their practice squad, but that could still be welcome news to players like Graham, Rodriguez, Hairston, and Bryant, who are all on the roster bubble.

Teams can begin establishing practice squads beginning at noon Aug. 31, the day after final cuts.