With NFL teams cutting down to 53 roster spots by the end of the weekend I thought it may be interesting to break down the intracies of an NFL roster. As a career 3rd string QB, I had a first hand look at the makings of the 53-man final roster during what seemed like every training camp of my entire 7 year career.
Sure you have your star players who know they are going to be on the team and even surefire backups who have solidified spots long before cut down day. However, there are many a player who are clawing tooth and nail for the final roster spots - "making the final cut" so to speak. As you learn though, in the NFL even making the final cut doesn't assure you will make the team and we'll explain why:
53 Man Roster: Every NFL team is allowed to have a roster of 53 players each week that make up their team for the upcoming game. These 53 players will practice throughout the week with the hope and intention of being "dressed" (able to play) on game-day. Now this 53 man roster is anything but set after the final cut down day. A team is continuously adapting and tinkering with its roster on a week to week basis. In fact, the only way to describe the fluidity of the 53 man roster is that - it can and often does - change on a daily basis. As you can imagine this can make things quite unsettling if as a player you find yourself at the bottom of the roster.
45 man Active Roster: The NFL declares that you are allowed to dress 45 players on game-day. If you are one of the 8 players not designated "Active", whether based on performance during the week, an injury, or the opposing team, you dress in "street clothes" and
stand on the sideline during the action. Street Clothes = Beanie cap, t-shirt, and sweats. "Inactive" style definitely leaves a lot to be desired. Maybe we can get the league to let guys rock Alial Fital polo shirts....
Now we mentioned the reasons a player might find themselves in street clothes on Sunday. Injuries and performance are pretty self explanatory but how about the opposing team, what would they have to do with anything? Coaches use those last "Active" spots very wisely - some more wisely than others. You see the players that make up the end of the active roster can have a huge impact on how well executed the strategy of the game is. For example, if you find yourself playing a run-oriented offense like the Kansas City Chiefs (led the league in rushing attempts in '10) you might want to activate an extra defensive lineman and choose to carry 1 less defensive back for pass coverage. You better hope that Kansas City doesn't decide to throw more than usual though, and leave your secondary defenders over exposed that day.
8 man practice squad: Every team can also carry 8 players on their practice squad or "taxi squad" (back in the day the Cleveland Browns couldn't put all their players on the roster - so they hired some as part-time taxi drivers). The practice squad is a developmental system usually used to carry younger players with potential. The practice squad often spends the week simulating the opposing teams plays as part of the scout team. It's worth noting that any team may sign someone off of any practice squad in the league to their active roster.
IR: Players are put on Injured Reserve or "IR" when they are deemed physically unfit to play for the remainder of the season. Want a quick way to know if your team is gonna make a playoff run.....compare their IR list to others around the league. The higher the number, the higher the chances they'll be starting their offseason early.
Other terms to know:
Waivers: A player that gets released/cut may be subject to the waiver wire. If a player is put on waivers it means that for 24 hours they are available to every team in the league in descending order from worst record to best record. If no team chooses to sign them they then become free agents and available to sign with anyone. There certainly have been situations where multiple teams put in a claim for a waived player only to find the one with the worst record the previous season being awarded the player.
PUP: The physically unable to perform list or "PUP" list comes into play in two scenarios. The first being if the PUP tag is placed on a player prior to training camp then they are allowed to rehabilitate and participate in off the field activities until they come they are fit. In this scenario the player can be available for the the first game of the season. In the second scenario, the team placing a player on the PUP to begin the regular season, said player is not allowed to play in the first six games of the season at which time the team can decide what to do moving forward.
Coach wants to see you, bring your playbook: You've probably heard this one before - it's part of popular culture. Usually delivered by someone in the scouting department that you've never met, these eight words mean the end of a dream for many but in certain scenarios have been the best thing that could've ever happened to a player. We're almost certain your favorite team has some notable players on it that have first hand knowledge, like I do, of the gut wrenching feeling this phrase delivers.
Friday Fashion Tip: Shoes: If you've worked out in 'em or played a game of hoops in 'em they are not suitable for a weekend night out. Sure there are times when a nice, clean pair of hi-top sneakers (like these PF Flyers I own) do the trick but for the most part there should be a designation in your wardrobe between a sneaker/trainer and a casual shoe. Once this distinction is made, trust us not only will you thank us but your lady will too. After all, that's what they look at first - ladies is it true? First thing you look at is the shoes? We've styled this weeks limited edition polo A People and Destiny with a pair of black hi-tops. Take a look at our latest mens polo shirt.