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Bucs Get Draft Picks Back on Super-Sized Practice Squad

RB Ray Calais and ILB Chapelle Russell, Tampa Bay's two seventh-round picks in the 2020 draft, were among 15 players signed to the team's first iteration of a 16-man practice squad on Sunday

Running Back Raymond Calais
Running Back Raymond Calais

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had an unprecedented 16 practice squads to work with after Saturday's league-wide round of cuts and they wasted no time filling most of them up. It helped that they didn't have to cast a very wide net. All 15 men signed to that crew on Sunday were players Tampa Bay waived on Saturday, including their 2020 seventh-round draft picks, running back Ray Calais and inside linebacker Chapelle Russell.

Also sticking around on the practice squad are five players who have already spent some time on the Bucs' active roster in recent seasons: guard Zack Bailey, wide receiver Cyril Grayson, tight end Tanner Hudson, defensive lineman Jeremiah Ledbetter and cornerback Mazzi Wilkins. Hudson was on the Bucs' active roster for the entire 2019 season but was battling for a spot this year behind a deep group of tight ends that welcomed in Rob Gronkowski in the offseason.

There is one spot still open and potentially another move or two to come on Monday. The following players were signed to the Buccaneers' practice squad on Sunday:

  • G Zack Bailey
  • RB Ray Calais
  • S D'Cota Dixon
  • WR Cyril Grayson
  • S Javon Hagan
  • TE Tanner Hudson
  • DL Jeremiah Ledbetter
  • G Nick Leverett
  • CB Herb Miller
  • WR Josh Pearson
  • DL Benning Potoa'e
  • ILB Chapelle Russell
  • C Zach Shackelford
  • QB Reid Sinnett
  • CB Mazzi Wilkins

Practice squads were expanded in 2020 specifically to give teams more flexibility as they try to operate within the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only were six spots added to the 10 that teams had in 2019, but six of those 16 spots can be used on players with any amount of accrued NFL experience. The larger limit allowed the Bucs to add practice-field depth and developmental options to a wide variety of positions.

In addition, that expanded practice squad can now have more of a week-to-week impact on how teams prepare for game days, thanks to a change that was made in the new CBA that was ratified in March. Teams are now allowed to add two players from the practice squad to their game day roster each week, expanding that roster to 55 players, of which 48 can be active. Those promoted players then revert back to the practice squad without having to pass through waivers. Each player can only be promoted twice in this manner during the season and no player can be promoted two weeks in a row.

View photos of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 53-man roster.

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