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Alex Gray will be Atlanta’s 11th practice squad player again in 2018

For the second straight year, Gray can marinate on the practice squad and develop.

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Atlanta Falcons Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Falcons participated in a pilot program last year that allowed them to carry and 11th practice squad player from abroad. They chose to carry Alex Gray, a former rugby player who decided to make a go of it at tight end in the U.S.

Gray would presumably be in contention for a roster spot in 2018, but with the signing of Logan Paulsen, the team has three capable options on the roster right this moment, and Gray is presumably still learning the finer points of the game. The Falcons will now get another year to coach him up before hopefully giving him a roster spot in 2019, as all four NFC South teams will have the 11th slot again this year.

You can read the article for the full list—it’s expanded to the NFC North this year—but the important takeaway here is that the Falcons get to hold on to an athletic lottery ticket for another year who would have been a long shot to make the roster. Gray can make his case again in 2019, when we’ll know more about how good Eric Saubert is and Logan Paulsen will be a free agent, with the benefit of two years with an NFL coaching staff. Of course, I hope he’ll get that at that point, because the practice squad doesn’t pay particularly well.

Welcome back, Alex Gray!