Ask Farmer: Discussing practice squad players and aging quarterbacks
Have a question about the NFL? Ask Times NFL writer Sam Farmer, and he will answer as many as he can online and in the Sunday editions of the newspaper throughout the season. Email questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org
What do practice squad players do on game day? They’re not on the official team, so they’re not on the sideline. Are they just gathering somewhere together to watch on NFL Sundays?
Thomas Harris, Eugene, Ore.
Farmer: For this, I called Chargers general manager Tom Telesco, who was quick to point out that practice squad players are official members of the team and do everything the rest of the guys do, except dress on game day.
For home games, the Chargers have some of their 10 practice-squad members — typically the skill-position players — go through a mini-workout that starts approximately two hours before kickoff. Those players have to finish by 90 minutes before kickoff.
“During the game, it kind of depends on the coaching staff,” Telesco said. “Sometimes those players will watch the game from the sideline, and sometimes it’s from the press box.”
That’s for home games. For away games, the Chargers don’t bring all 10 on the road, but typically between one and three of them on a rotating basis. Those players will watch the game from the sideline, just like the seven members of the 53-man roster who have been deactivated.
“We want them to get the feel and the look of, ‘This is how we travel, this is what the meetings are like for away games, this is our process,’” Telesco said. “Sunday is still a valuable day for these guys. It’s not a day off.
“They break a sweat, and during the game they’re not watching it as a fan. … If you’re on the sideline, you’re listening to what the quarterback is talking about when he comes off the field, you’re listening to the tips that the coaches are giving your position group.”
It’s not a bad gig.
Practice squad players are paid $7,200 per week during the season — that’s 17 paychecks of that amount — and that bumps up to a minimum of $27,000 per week for those promoted to the 53-man roster.
Tom Brady turned 40 this year. Does that set some kind of record for active quarterbacks?
Beth Mittelholzer, Santa Fe, N.M.
Farmer: Amazing as it is that Brady is still playing — and leading the league in yards passing, no less — he’s a mere pup when compared with Hall of Fame quarterbacks such as Warren Moon, who played for the Kansas City Chiefs at 44, and George Blanda, who was an astounding 48 as a member of the 1975 Oakland Raiders.
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