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Vikings Capitalize on Expanded Practice Squad

EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings on Sunday capitalized on the expanded practice squad limits by signing 13 players, including quarterbacks Jake Browning and Nate Stanley.

All 13 players spent Verizon Vikings Training Camp with the team, providing a high level of continuity as Minnesota prepares to open the season against Green Bay on Sept. 13.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic brought about rule changes to practices squads for 2020.

View photos of the Vikings 53-man roster as of January 4, 2021.

1. Number of spots

Practice squad maximums were initially set to expand to 12 players from 10 under the Collective Bargaining Agreement reached between the NFL and NFL Players Association in March. That limit was increased to 16 in an effort to add depth within a team's organization in case players test positive before games.

What it means for the Vikings: After opting to keep Sean Mannion as Kirk Cousins' backup on the 53-man roster, the Vikings were able to keep Browning, a practice squader in 2019, and Stanley, a seventh-round pick, in the building to keep developing the young QBs.

2. Eased restrictions

In addition to increasing the number of spots, the NFL also relaxed some restrictions on who is eligible for the practice squad.

Up to six players per team can have an unlimited amount of experience.

What it means for the Vikings: Brett Jones, who has appeared in 46 games and made 17 starts with the Giants and Vikings, became eligible as a practice squad veteran.

Additionally, there are four "exception" players who can have some NFL experience.

Historically practice squads have been formed with rookies and players who have not accrued a season of free agent credit, or for those with one or more accrued seasons but were not on the 46-player active list for at least nine games.

What it means for the Vikings: Aviante Collins has played in five games over the course of three seasons but is able to be on the practice squad. Collins has the versatility to work at tackle and guard, a big benefit for a practice squad.

3. Getting to game day

Each team will be able to protect four practice squad players each week from being signed by another team. The pre-pandemic policy allowed teams to sign any practice squad players to their active rosters.

On game day, teams will now be able to elevate players from their practice squad up to 90 minutes prior to kickoff.

What it means for the Vikings: It's always a mixed bag of emotions when a practice squad player signs with another team because of losing out on the development effort directed toward the player, but there's happiness for the opportunity the player has to advance his career.

We don't know if there will be any positive tests on the night before or morning of a game, but the Vikings did deal with a rash of false positives that kept eight players out of a training camp practice.

On the practice squad

The 13 players who have been signed to the Vikings practice squad are:

Jake Bargas, FB

Blake Brandel, T

Jake Browning, QB

Aviante Collins, G

Brandon Dillon, TE

Mark Fields II, CB

Kyle Hinton, G

Alexander Hollins, WR

Brett Jones, C

Blake Lynch, LB

Nate Meadors, CB

Josh Metellus, S

Nate Stanley, QB