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New England Patriots

HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 05: A general view of a New England Patriots helmet prior to Super Bowl 51 at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

By Alex Barth, 985TheSportsHub.com

UPDATE: The Patriots’ official release includes defensive lineman Tashawn Bower on the practice squad, with wide receiver Mason Kinsey not listed. Corresponding moves are expected in the coming days.

NFL practice squads will take on a new level of importance in 2020. Between the new CBA and adjustments for COVID, the units are more important than ever.

Among the big changes is an overall increase in size – teams are now allowed to keep 16 players as opposed to the previous 10. Individual player restrictions were cut down as well. All players are now practice squad eligible, although the number of players with a sizable amount of NFL experience is limited.

In addition, teams are now allowed to protect four players from signing elsewhere, where as in the past all practice squad players were de facto free agents. Finally, teams are allowed to dress two players on the practice squad day of game, as a way to mitigate the harm of potential late-week COVID tests.

Keeping that in mind, here are the 16 players who make up the initial Patriots practice squad.

-LB Cassh Maluia
-DL Tashawn Bower
-CB Myles Bryant
-CB D’Angelo Ross
-DT Bill Murray
-LB Terez Hall
-K Justin Rohrwasser
-TE Jake Burt
-DL Nick Thurman
-K Nick Folk
-WR Devin Ross
-RB JJ Taylor
-WR Isaiah Zuber
-FB/TE Paul Quessenberry
-DL Rashod Berry
-DL Xavier Williams

Many of these names should sound familiar to Patriots fans. 15 of the 16 players signed spent most of training camp in New England. The lone exception is wide receiver Mason Kinsey. Out of Division III Berry College (Georgia), Kinsey spent training camp with the Tennessee Titans.

Noticeably absent from the list is UDFA wide receiver Jeff Thomas. The Miami product was one of the most hyped players on the Patriots roster throughout the spring, but couldn’t get on the practice field much during camp. Another reminder that it’s tough to make the club from the tub.

MORE: Initial thoughts on the Patriots’ 53-man roster

Also not included is running back Lamar Miller, who signed with the team in early August as he was recovering from a torn ACL. Reports have stated that the team hopes to keep Miller in the fold this year, which would have made him a logical candidate.

It also feels worth noting that there are no offensive linemen in the group. The Patriots kept 10 such players on the 53-man roster, so perhaps they felt that was enough depth.

More shuffling is expected in the coming days, namely the signing of one of the kickers to the 53-man roster. So while this is far from the final group. It’s not a bad place to start.

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Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at Alexander.Barth@bbgi.com.