Plenty of familiar faces on Packers' expanded practice squad
GREEN BAY - With the advent of a new 55-man roster and added protocols to give NFL teams protection against the coronavirus, the practice squad has never been as important as it will be this season.
Teams will carry six more players on their practice squad than in the past, up to 16 this fall. They'll be able to shuttle back and forth to the 55-man roster each week. Teams are allowed to promote two players to the active roster in a given week, providing options when injuries and potentially COVID-19 strikes.
So the Green Bay Packers practice squad is something more than decorative. Indeed, the players below might play some meaningful role in the 2020 season.
Here's a look at 14 players (all of whom participated in Packers training camp) who will begin the season on the practice squad:
LB Krys Barnes: Signed as a free agent out of UCLA this offseason. Had 19.5 tackles for loss and five sacks in final two college seasons. Given issues at inside linebacker might be candidate for promotion to 55-man roster in Week 1.
WR Reggie Begelton: Signed as a free agent with the Packers after three seasons in the Canadian Football League. Among a handful of receivers the Packers kept on their practice squad. With only five receivers on the 53-man roster, could get a midweek call up during the season to the 55-man active roster.
S Heny Black: Signed as an undrafted rookie with the Packers this offseason. Had 62 tackles with one interception as a senior last season at Baylor.
RB Damarea Crockett: Originally signed with Houston Texans as an undrafted rookie in 2019. Spent time on the Oakland Raiders' practice squad last season before joining the Packers' practice squad. Rushed for 709 yards and seven touchdowns as a junior at Missouri in his final college season in 2018.
LB Tipa Galeai: Undersized edge defender with some pass-rush ability. Finished with 22.5 tackles for loss and 15 sacks in final two college seasons at Utah State.
C Jake Hanson: Sixth-round pick by Packers last spring. Transitioned from college offense in Oregon that operated exclusively out of the shotgun to more traditional under-center snaps with Packers.
G Zack Johnson: Signed with the Packers as an undrafted rookie this offseason. Played 54 games in college career at North Dakota State.
OT Alex Light: Originally signed as an undrafted free agent in 2018, and made the 53-man roster as a rookie. Played 151 snaps last season. Struggled during 70 snaps at San Francisco in November. Rotated as backup left tackle in camp. Could be a call up for tackle depth to the 55-man roster if injuries hit the position.
FB John Lovett: Former Princeton quarterback originally signed as an undrafted rookie with the Kansas City Chiefs last season. Claimed on waivers from the Chiefs early in camp. Think of him as a backup to the versatile tight end/fullback Josiah Deguara.
DL Willington Previlon: Big defensive lineman able to plug gaps and take on blockers. Hasn't shown much pass-rush potential yet, but able as a run defender.
LB Greg Roberts: Had a lengthy stay on the sidelines the past two seasons (including multiple stints on physically unable to perform list and starting camp on COVID-19/reserve list) end in final days of camp. Packers must be high on his potential; they've extended Roberts a lot of patience.
CB Stanford Samuels III: Signed as an undrafted rookie with the Packers this offseason. Eight interceptions in three college seasons at Florida State. Got first-team reps in camp when Jaire Alexander missed a couple practices. Good bloodlines: his father, Stanford Samuels Jr., played professionally seven seasons, including an NFL season with the Indianapolis Colts in 2004.
DL Delontae Scott: Signed as an undrafted rookie this offseason. Smaller defensive end with potential as a pass rusher. Had 17 tackles for loss and nine sacks in final college season a Southern Methodist.
WR Darrius Shepherd: Signed as an undrafted rookie in 2019 and made the 53-man roster in his first season. Demoted to the practice squad after a rough early-season game against Detroit. Starred in Packers' extended scrimmage inside Lambeau Field on Aug. 30. One of the smallest players on roster at 5-11, 185 pounds, but fits as a versatile slot receiver in Matt LaFleur's offense.
That leaves two spots on the 16-man squad, and one of them will be filled by running back Dexter Williams, according to a source. A sixth-round pick in 2019, Williams made the 53-man roster as a rookie but played sparingly. He fought an uphill battle to keep his roster spot after the Packers drafted AJ Dillon in the second round. A one-cut-and-go runner, Williams remains a long-term option for the team with Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams heading into the final year of their contracts.