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From 53 back to 69: The 16 players on Giants' practice squad will be key this season

Giants general manager Dave Gettleman speaks to the

Giants general manager Dave Gettleman speaks to the media during a press conference on Dec. 31, 2019. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The most frenzied part of this weekend for the Giants wasn’t getting their roster down to 53 names. It will be getting it back up to 69.

A majority of the players who were waived or cut on Saturday will be eligible for roles on the team’s 16-man practice squad, which will include six spots for veterans regardless of their tenure in the league. Many of those who received bad news on Saturday will be welcomed back by the time those practice squad rosters are set at 2 p.m. on Sunday.

Of course, every other team in the league has had to put its list of not-quite-ready players on the curb overnight as well, perhaps hoping that no other team claims them off waivers.

With no preseason games this summer, teams are pretty much in the dark regarding how the young talents that are relatively new to the league and not under their direct watch have been progressing. Some players haven’t been seen publicly since last preseason if they spent 2019 on a practice squad.

It will leave teams in a bit of a bind. A blind bind.

“When the wire comes out Saturday night and everybody is running around, it’s almost like you’re going to be [scouting] based off college tape,” Giants general manager Dave Gettleman said. “It’s very, very different. Especially with the rookies, you’re going to have to really rely on your college stuff. That tape is still available. We still have it. That’s what we will be doing.”

If the Giants do claim a player off waivers, he must be added to the active roster. The Giants should have two spots available to play with on that list, with Xavier McKinney and David Mayo expected to land on injured reserve after the 53-man roster is declared. Any practice squad additions from other organizations must wait until that player clears waivers on Sunday.

This year, more than any other, those practice squads may help determine just how successful a team’s season is.

“Really and truly, because of the protocols that are going to be in place during the season, your immediate help is going to be the practice squad guys,” Gettleman said. “Anybody, whether it’s a waiver, a trade, a claim, taking someone off somebody else’s practice squad, or bringing in a street free agent, is going to require time … There’s going to be the protocols, testing cadence, physicals. It’s going to be a process.”

One the Giants would rather go through this weekend than in days prior to an upcoming game.

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