The Buffalo Bills began filling out their practice squad today with the signings of seven players.
Linebacker Jimmy Gaines, a Canisius High School product, is part of the squad, as is quarterback Jeff Tuel. Both were released Saturday as the Bills trimmed their roster to 53 players.
Gaines impressed the Bills with his speed during the preseason, when he made 10 tackles in five games played.
Tuel, who was the fourth quarterback to be released by the Bills last week, made the team's 53-man roster last season as an undrafted free agent and appeared in two games, starting one. He became expendable, however, when the Bills signed veteran Kyle Orton to be EJ Manuel's backup Friday. Tuel at least gives the Bills another quarterback with knowledge of offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett's system if either Manuel or Orton happen to get hurt.
Other players named to the Bills' practice squad today include defensive end Bryan Johnson, defensive end Ike Igbinosun, safety Deon Broomfield, safety Kenny Ladler and wide receiver Caleb Holley.
Earlier this month, the NFL approved the expansion of the practice squad from eight to 10 members for the league's 32 teams. In doing so, it also expanded the criteria for a player to be eligible for the two additional spots on a practice squad. Those spots can go to players who have two accrued NFL seasons, or who have been active for less than nine regular season games in any of their accrued NFL seasons. Tuel meets this criteria -- he was active in 11 games in 2013.
The first eight spots on a team's practice squad fall under Article 33 of the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement. Eligibility is limited to players who have not served more than two seasons on a practice squad. Players without an accrued NFL season, as well as free-agent players who were on the active list for fewer than nine regular-season games during their only accrued season(s) are eligible.
An otherwise eligible player can spend a third season on a practice squad if the team keeps at least 53 players on its active/inactive list during his entire time on the team.
The NFL also tweaked the rules regarding what makes up a practice squad season. A player this season now must have a minimum of six games -- an increase from the current three games -- to count as a year of practice squad service.
Igbinosun has one year of practice squad service with the Bills last season -- the other five players are rookies entering their first season of practice squad eligibility.