Who's Eligible for the Practice Squad?

With the implementation of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, there's been a change regarding who can qualify for the practice squad. We explain the criteria for eligibility and tell you which Colts are eligible -- and our top five projected picks!

Under the CBA extension, here is the plain-English version of who can be placed on a team's practice squad. The player...

...can not have an accrued season of free agency credit. A player gets that credit if he played in 6 games in a season or was on injured reserve.

...can not have been on the 45-man (active gameday) roster for 9 or more games in an accrued season.

...can not be on a practice squad for more than 3 seasons.

The last step is a big change from previous years, as players could only be on a practice squad for two years. Prior to the new agreement, a player like Colts WR John Standeford wouldn't have been able to get consideration for the practice squad. This year, the Colts could have placed him there again if they hadn't included him on the 53-man roster. And they still could if they choose to take a chance on waiving him once the season started -- which is highly unlikely.

Teams can place up to eight players on the practice squad, but they aren't required to carry eight. Players assigned to the practice squad earn $4,700 a week in salary.

I've analyzed the Colts cuts and based on that analysis, here are the players who are eligible for practice squad consideration:

K Shane Andrus
QB Josh Betts
DB Tanard Davis
DE George Gause
LB Nick Hannah
TE Joey Hawkins
WR Ed Hinkel
LB Brandon Hoyte
G Trevor Hutton
DT Tom Johnson
T Bo Lacy
LB Dale Robinson
G Russ Tanner
DT Marcus West

So who are the most likely players to land on the Colts practice squad? That's not easy to predict because there was plenty of talent out there from around the league's cuts, and it won't be surprising to see the Colts pull in a few players from other teams to their practice squad.

One that I mentioned yesterday in our Insiders Forum was Indiana University DE Ben Ishola, who the Colts met with as one of their 30 pre-draft visitors. He was released by Miami and has the quickness that the Colts love in their defensive ends. He's just a bit raw and needs time to develop, and the Colts practice squad would be a perfect match for his skill set and current stage of development.

Another interesting development that could impact the practice squad is the fact that the Colts only have three running backs on their roster at the moment. They like to carry four, so a signing of one to the active roster should be announced very soon. When that happens, they'll need to release a player that they may want to add to the practice squad.

But out of the players that the Colts released, here are five I think have the highest chance of getting selected for practice squad duty:

QB Josh Betts: Meet the new Tom Arth. He's bright, has a good arm and effectively should become the team's third quarterback this year.

LB Nick Hannah: He's been a solid player in both this year and last year's training camps. He had a good spring in NFL Europe, and although the Colts didn't put him on the practice squad last year, he should get strong consideration for it this year. He's a very capable special teams player to boot.

WR Ed Hinkel: He's got good hands and should be given a chance to develop his skills. He has the added bonus of being able to pull emergency duty as a returns specialist. That said, the Colts could look to bring Dan Sheldon back and put him on the practice squad for that same role.

T Bo Lacy: He spent last year on the practice squad and he lasted until the final cuts this year. The Colts need some OL depth on the practice squad, and Lacy has a year of experience in the system now.

DT Marcus West: The Colts need at least one defensive lineman on the practice squad. West did well enough during the preseason to warrant consideration.

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