In a typical summer, teams would be able to carry 90 players on their roster through training camp and preseason games before dropping to 53 players before the first week of the regular season.
The NFL looks different amid the COVID-19 pandemic, however. Teams will be limited to 80 players at the start of camp or by August 16 if they choose to work in split squads, there are no preseason games on the schedule and practice time will be limited under the agreement reached by the league and the NFLPA.
None of those things are great developments for players trying to make it at the professional level, which Texans head coach Bill O’Brien noted in a conversation with Albert Breer of SI.com.
“It’s going to be a difficult year for younger players,” O’Brien said. “With no preseason games, and less practice, especially having no rookie minicamps and no OTAs in the spring, you’re gonna have to get down to who your team is faster than you have in the past and get your team ready to go, and do it in an intelligent way. I’ve had discussions with a lot of different guys on our team.”
Practice squads have been expanded to 16 players, so there will be some additional opportunities for players to gain a foothold in a year where familiarity will likely mean more than it usually does.