NFL Rules for Squad Size

By Tonya Abari

The largest professional football league in the nation, The National Football League (NFL) consists of approximately 32 teams, both represented by the American Football Conference (AFC) and the National Football Conference (NFC) divisions. Each team is allowed 53 players during the season; however, only 45 players are suited up each week to play during the regular season.

Player Positions

The team is divided and aims to fill positions in three principle sections: Offense, Defense, and Special Teams. The Offensive unit consists of:Quarterback (QB), Runningback (RB), Wide Receiver (WR), Tight End (TE), Full Back (FB), Half Back (HB), Offensive Lineman (OL), which include Center (C), Guards (G), and Tackles (OT).

The Defensive Unit includes Defensive Linemen (DL), Tackles (DT), Ends (DE), Linebackers (LB), and Defensive Backs (DB).

The Special Teams Unit includes: Place Kicker (PK), Punter (P), Holder (H), and Kick Returner (KR)

Training Camp

Every organization has the opportunity to open up summer training camp with 80 players. Currently, there are two days during training camp when team rosters are decreased. The first day, rosters are cut to 65 players and the second day, rosters are decreased to 53 players.

The Official 53-Man Roster

Of the 53 total team members that must be identified by opening day, only 45 players are considered active players for games during the regular season. Each team is also allowed specify one of the remaining 8 players as its emergency Quarterback.

The Practice Squad

Practice Squad players practice with their designated teams; however, they are not allowed to suit up for game days. Each team has the opportunity to sign up to eight players during the course of the season.

Practice Squad Guidelines

Choosing Practice Squad players happen after all organizations have solidified their 53-man rosters and each team has passed the 24 hours on getting contracts of players waived by the other 31 teams. Players can be signed at any time during the season; however, the team signing the player has to add the player to its 53-man roster.

Eligibility for the Practice Squad

Eligibility requirements for Practice Squad players include: a player has no prior accrued seasons in the National Football League or, the player has one prior accumulated season and was active on the 45-man roster for no more than eight games during the regular season. Finally, the player is eligible if he has been on the Practice Squad with the designated team for no more than two previous seasons.

About the Author

Based in the Northeast, Tonya Abari is a writer/editor and traveling humanities teacher (she teaches child entertainers on film/TV sets). Abari received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Maryland at College Park in English/English education and also has an MBA.

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