Keep your friends close, your enemies closer, and your emergency COVID-19 kicker and long snapper closest.
On Wednesday, Saints coach Sean Payton explained that the team had signed kicker Blair Walsh and long snapper John Denney to the practice squad just in case the team’s official kicker and long snapper became unavailable due to the pandemic.
“I don’t really feel like trying to kick, or hold, or snap,” Payton said Wednesday.
So, naturally, the Saints released Walsh and Denney from the practice squad on Wednesday (along with receiver Jake Lampman), replacing them with receiver Austin Carr, receiver Jake Kumerow, and defensive tackle Anthony Zettel.
And, even more naturally, the Saints gave both Walsh and Denney tryouts on Thursday.
It seems to be a creative and ingenious application of the rules in order to ensure that Walsh and Denney remain not only readily available but also ready, with the tryouts essentially becoming opportunities to practice.
So if Saints kicker Wil Lutz or long snapper Zach Wood land on the COVID-19 reserve list, Walsh or Denney will be ready to go — regardless of whether or not they’re currently on the practice squad or the active roster. All the Saints need to do is sign the replacement to the practice squad and then activate them to the official roster at least 90 minutes before kickoff.
It’s an aggressive interpretation of the rules, but it’s apparently allowed by the rules. And it provides the Saints with an insurance policy at these positions without, for now, requiring the Saints to devote one of the 69 available jobs (53 on the roster and 16 on the practice squad) to an extra kicker or snapper.