Teammates at Alabama for three seasons and released by NFL teams last week, outside linebacker Terrell Lewis and guard Lester Cotton returned to the NFL on Tuesday.
Cotton joined the Miami Dolphins’ practice squad, and Lewis joined the Chicago Bears’ practice squad.
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Practice-squad members do everything that the 53 members of an NFL team’s active roster do, except play in games. However, a practice-squad member can be elevated to active status for up to three regular-season games during the season, making him eligible to play.
The Las Vegas Raiders waived Cotton from injured reserve on Thursday. Cotton had been placed on injured reserve on Dec. 3, a day after he’d shown up on the injury report as a limited practice participant with a calf problem.
Cotton played 23 offensive snaps in Las Vegas’ season-opening game, then made his first NFL start and played all 67 snaps at right guard in the second contest – a 29-23 loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Sept. 18. After that, Cotton’s action was limited to 40 special-teams plays in eight games.
Cotton entered the NFL as an undrafted rookie after starting for two seasons at Alabama, including for the 2017 CFP national championship team. Cotton came to Alabama as a 2014 Parade All-American and an All-State selection at Central-Tuscaloosa.
Cotton had spent his entire NFL career with the Raiders. He played in one game as a rookie in 2019 and got on the field as a practice-squad callup in four games in 2021. In 2020, Cotton failed to make the regular-season roster coming out of the preseason and was not re-signed for the practice squad as he was in 2019 and 2021.
The Los Angeles Rams waived Lewis on Friday after a back injury had kept him out of the previous two games.
Lewis’ final three games with the Rams were his only starts of the 2022 season. He had 13 tackles, one sack, two tackles for loss, three quarterback hits, two passes defended and his first NFL interception while getting on the field for 332 defensive snaps and 14 special-teams plays in 11 games.
A third-round selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, Lewis started his rookie season on the reserve/non-football injury list. He was recovering from knee surgery, a precautionary procedure undertaken because of infection concerns from his previous knee operation after a torn anterior cruciate ligament at Alabama in 2018.
Once he made his debut in the fifth game of the Rams’ 2020 season, Lewis played in eight games, registered five tackles and recorded two sacks in 124 defensive snaps as a rookie.
Halfway through the 2021 NFL season, Los Angeles acquired eight-time Pro Bowl outside linebacker Von Miller from the Denver Broncos, and the pass-rusher helped the Rams win Super Bowl LVI. Lewis had started the three games before Miller took over the spot in the lineup. Lewis did not play in the final six games of the regular season or Los Angeles’ four playoff games.
In 30 NFL regular-season games, Lewis has 40 tackles, six sacks, eight tackles for loss, 10 quarterback hits, three passes defended, one interception and one forced fumble. He’s been on the field for 823 defensive snaps and 19 special-teams plays.
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Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter at @AMarkG1.
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