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Colts sign former St. Al star Harris to practice squad

On Saturday, DeMichael Harris’ future in the NFL was in jeopardy. On Sunday, he got a second chance.

Harris, a former St. Aloysius and Southern Miss star, was one of 14 players that the Indianapolis Colts signed to their practice squad on Sunday. He had been cut by the Colts the day before, as teams trimmed their 80-man preseason roster down to 53 ahead of next weekend’s season openers.

Harris, who plays wide receiver, signed as an undrafted free agent with the Colts in April. He said then that he was hoping to make the opening day roster as a kick returner or deep on the wide receiver depth chart.

The Colts wound up keeping six receivers for their final 53-man roster, and cut Harris on Saturday before bringing him back a day later.

“It’s only up from here,” Harris posted on his Twitter account Sunday evening.

The Colts also signed quarterback Chad Kelly, a former Ole Miss star, to their practice squad. Indianapolis kept three QBs on its 53-man roster — Phillip Rivers, Jacoby Brissett and rookie Jacob Eason — and stashed Kelly on the practice squad as insurance in the era of COVID-19.

Kelly was a seventh-round draft pick by the Denver Broncos in 2017, but was released in October 2018. He signed with Indianapolis during the 2019 offseason and spent the second half of the season on the active roster after starting on the practice squad.

“Chad had a good camp, too,” Colts general manager Chris Ballard said in a video conference Sunday “We feel good about where we’re at with the position. We’ll do some things each week to make sure we have a quarterback protected just in case things get scary on us on the weekend.”

Each NFL team is permitted to keep up to 16 players on its practice squad this season, up from 10 in previous years because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Practice squad players serve as extra players in team practices but are not part of the main roster.

A player on a practice squad is free to sign with another team at any point, but a team that signs a player from another’s practice squad must add the player to its 53-man roster. There are no practice squad-to-practice squad transactions.

Teams can promote one or two players from the practice squad each week to increase their rosters from 53 to 55 players on game days. Any practice squad player promoted in such a way would revert to the practice squad roster after the game.

While Harris will begin the 2020 season attached to an NFL team, his former St. Aloysius and Southern Miss teammate Drake Dorbeck will not.

Dorbeck, an offensive tackle who signed with the Cleveland Browns as an undrafted free agent in April, announced in July that he is opting out of playing this season because of concerns about COVID-19.

Dorbeck was one of 67 NFL players, and five on the Browns’ roster, who opted out.

Players who opted out ahead of the July deadline cannot reverse their decision. Veteran players who opt out are eligible for either a $350,000 or $150,000 stipend that counts against their 2021 salary, but undrafted rookies such as Dorbeck are not eligible to receive the stipend.

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured sports reporters in the paper's 137-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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