Denver Broncos: 5 Players Who Could Really Benefit from New Practice Squad Rule
On Monday, ESPN's Adam Schefter tweeted that the NFL is planning to increase the amount of players that teams can keep on their practice squad from eight to 10:
By next week, NFL is expected to increase size of practice squads to 10 players from 8, per source. So 64 more jobs.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 18, 2014
This may not seem like a big deal, but every roster spot matters. When you have a team as deep as the Denver Broncos currently do, the more players the league will let you keep around, the better.
To be eligible for a spot on the practice squad, players must meet a few requirements:
- A player can be placed on the practice squad if they don't have an accrued season on an active NFL roster. An accrued season is defined as six games.
- A player can still be placed on the practice squad if they have an accrued season, so long as they have made fewer than nine appearances on the 45-man active roster.
- If a player is on the practice squad for a minimum of three weeks, that is considered a full season on the practice squad. Every player can be placed on the practice squad for two seasons.
With that said, practice squad spots are usually reserved for rookies whom the team feels can be developed for the future. The Broncos had a very strong undrafted rookie class this season.
The team will be faced with some difficult roster decisions. Some of those may be less difficult now that there are two extra spots on the practice squad, ensuring that 63 of the 90 players on the roster will be kept in some capacity.
Here's a look at some players who could be helped by the recent change.
Bennie Fowler, Wide Receiver
The Broncos have one of the deepest groups of wide receivers in the NFL. Undrafted rookie Bennie Fowler, for his part, has some promising talent.
He has basically no chance of making the final roster, but the practice squad is a distinct possibility—especially since it will now consist of 10 players.
Fowler is a big target with good ball skills. He can also make something happen after the catch.
In two preseason games, Fowler has three catches for 36 yards in limited action. He did catch an apparent touchdown in the late stages of the Broncos' win over San Francisco on Sunday but was flagged for offensive pass interference, nullifying the score.
The Broncos love to throw the ball, and there is always a place for big, athletic receivers in the NFL. Fowler should get a chance to stick around.
Bryn Renner, Quarterback
With a 10-man practice squad, teams around the league should be encouraged to keep any young quarterback prospect they have.
While the Broncos seem to have a great future in Brock Osweiler and possibly even Zac Dysert, Bryn Renner is another guy with NFL potential.
While not as mobile as either Osweiler or Dysert, Renner is a more cerebral quarterback who can make all the intermediate throws. He finished his college career ranked third all-time in passing yardage at North Carolina.
Renner has a lot to learn to make it in the NFL. He will have to learn to read defenses a little better while working on his downfield accuracy.
However, the Broncos have a great system to develop players in. Once Peyton Manning steps aside, Osweiler or whoever the new starting quarterback is will need a solid backup in place.
Kenny Anunike, Defensive End
The Broncos will enter the season with a tough, physical defense that has the potential to be as good as any defense in the league.
DeMarcus Ware, Aqib Talib and T.J. Ward all came over through free agency. On top of that, Von Miller should be back to full speed.
With all the stars around him, undrafted rookie defensive end Kenny Anunike has still put together a very solid camp.
Aside from Ware, the Broncos have a plethora of talented defensive ends including Derek Wolfe, Malik Jackson and Quanterus Smith. All four of them will regularly get after the quarterback.
It appears that there is just too much talent in front of Anunike, but there is absolutely room for him on the practice squad. Now that teams are allowed 10 players on the practice squad, keeping Anunike around is an easy decision.
Anunike was credited with a half a sack in Denver's preseason win over San Francisco on Sunday. As Mike Klis of The Denver Post noted earlier in camp, Anunike's energetic play hasn't gone unnoticed.
Kapri Bibbs and Brennan Clay, Running Back
One of the best competitions in Denver's training camp this year has been at the running back position.
Due to the strong play of undrafted rookie Juwan Thompson, the odds of Kapri Bibbs or Brennan Clay making the team are slim to none. However, with an expanded practice squad, the Broncos should be able to comfortably keep one and maybe even both players.
In the case of Bibbs, some extra time developing his game to translate to the pro level would likely do him some good.
Though he led the nation in rushing touchdowns with 31 last year at Colorado State, some of his numbers could have been a bit inflated by the inferior opposition he faced.
In the NFL, he will have to be able to step up in pass protection and catch the ball out of the backfield. If he can do that, he has the ability as a ball-carrier to be a good rotational back in the future.
In two preseason games, Clay has carried the ball seven times for seven yards. That's not going to get it done.
However, Clay is a versatile player who can catch the ball out of the backfield. He can also contribute in pass protection. Despite his size (5'11", 200 lbs), he displays tremendous toughness. Based on his skill set, he is the type of player whom coaches could mold into a strong NFL running back.
However, with Montee Ball, Ronnie Hillman, C.J. Anderson and Thompson all on the roster in the early stages of their careers, it will be interesting to see if Denver feels it needs either one of these players.
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