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TWENTYMAN: Breaking down the Lions' initial practice squad

The Detroit Lions have signed 13 of a possible 16 players to their initial practice squad.

The NFL expanded practice squad rosters to 16 players a couple seasons ago due to COVID-19, and kept the numbers the same for the 2022 season as well.

Teams can carry up to six practice squad spots on players with unlimited experience in the NFL. The remaining spots are filled with players having less than two accrued seasons.

Teams can also protect up to four players per week that other teams cannot sign. The 12 players who are not protected will be eligible to sign with another team's active roster during the week and have to be on the active roster for at least three weeks.

Rules also allow teams to promote two players from the practice squad per week without the need to create a roster spot – essentially creating a temporary 55-man roster. Those players are eligible to play in that week's game, and they revert back to the practice squad at the end of the week without having to pass through waivers.

Here's a closer look at Detroit's initial 13-man practice squad:

WR Maurice Alexander

Alexander showed some return prowess in the preseason, leading the team with a 34.8-yard average per kickoff return on five attempts. He also returned five punts for a 7.6-yard average per return. He caught seven passes for another 49 yards on offense.

The veteran linebacker sticks around in Detroit on the practice squad and brings a lot of experience to the squad. He's played in 64 career games with 50 starts and had a 100-tackle season with the Lions in 2018 after being a first-round pick by the team in 2017.

TE Derrick Deese Jr.

An undrafted rookie signing by the team in the spring, Deese dealt with injury early on, but the Lions see something there they want to continue to work with. He caught 47 passes for 730 yards and four touchdowns with San Jose State last year. He had one catch for nine yards in the preseason.

T Obinna Eze

Eze is a developmental tackle with terrific size and arm length. He came to the United States to play AAU basketball from Nigeria, and has only been playing football since his junior year of high school. He's a player the Lions want to continue to develop.

Griffin, who was released earlier in camp, is a four-year veteran and a really good blocker from the tight end position. He played in 13 games (six starts) with New Orleans last year, and brings some toughness to the position.

DL Bruce Hector

Hector had six tackles and a quarterback hit in the preseason. He's played in 14 career NFL games with one start, so he brings some experience to the practice squad from the interior defensive line position.

LB James Houston

Houston played some off-the-ball linebacker in the spring after the Lions made him a sixth-round pick in this year's NFL Draft. He was playing more of an on-the-ball rush linebacker spot towards the end of camp, and the team wants to continue to develop his overall game.

Jackson is a trusty veteran with 43 games under his belt (all with Chargers) and a career 5.0-yard average per rush attempt. He led the Lions in rushing in the preseason with 109 yards on 18 carries (6.1 average). If the Lions ever need someone to step in and fill a role at running back, they can trust Jackson to do it.

Kennedy was Detroit's leading receiver in the preseason, catching 16 balls for 143 yards and a couple scores. The Lions decided to keep five receivers on the active roster. Quintez Cephus won a spot over Kennedy, who is a reliable player to have on the practice squad.

Parker was an undrafted rookie last year, who not only made the 53-man roster, but ended up playing in 13 games with seven starts. He was beat out of a roster spot by veteran Mike Hughes and rookie Chase Lucas, but Parker has a lot of upside with game experience under his belt.

LB Anthony Pittman

A core special teams player for the Lions a season ago, Pittman lost the numbers game at linebacker for inclusion on the initial 53-man roster. He played in all 17 games for the Lions in 2021 with 18 tackles.

T Dan Skipper

Skipper is a veteran offensive tackle who consistently played right tackle with the second-team offensive line most of training camp. He's played in 10 career games dating back to 2017.

CB Savion Smith

The Lions would like to keep working with Smith, who has good size (6-1, 200) and upside. Smith was Detroit's second leading tackler in the preseason with 10 tackles. He also notched a tackle for loss and defended a pass.

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