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Washington elevates two practice squad players ahead of Raiders game

both players could play an important role

San Francisco 49ers v Washington Redskins Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Washington has elevated two players from the practice squad for Sunday’s game against the Las Vegas Raiders. On Saturday, the team announced that it had elevated C John Toth and RB Wendell Smallwood.

Both players could play important roles on Sunday.

Smallwood was with the Jacksonville Jaguars earlier this season, but was signed to the Football Team’s practice squad in late November. He should be familiar to Washington fans, however, from his 15-game stint with the Redskins in 2019, when he was claimed off of waivers from the Eagles. In limited duty as Chris Thompson’s backup, playing about 15 snaps per game, Smallwood averaged 3.7 yards per carry and 7.1 yards per reception as a third-down back.

He is being elevated this week because Washington’s regular 3rd down back, JD McKissic, is in the concussion protocol. In a news conference earlier this week, head coach Ron Rivera forshadowed Smallwood’s elevation when the coach said that Smallwood would likely be relied on to replace McKissic in Las Vegas.

Smallwood is 27 years old, and was drafted by the Eagles in the 5th round of the 2016 draft. His most productive season in the NFL came with Philadelphia in 2018, when he rushed for 364 yards and 3 touchdowns, and caught 28 passes for 230 yards and 2 touchdowns. He was active for one NFL game last season (Steelers) but played only 2 special teams snaps. Other players on the WFT roster may also be called upon to help fill in for McKissic this week, including WR Curtis Samuel, WR Deandre Carter and RB Jaret Patterson.

John Toth initially joined the Washington Football Team in late August, and has been on and off of the practice squad several times this season. Like Smallwood, Toth began his NFL career with the Eagles, who signed Toth as an undrafted free agent in 2017. His career has been a series of practice squads for the past 4 years, with stops in New York, Cleveland and Detroit.

Toth was elevated from the practice squad a week ago for the game against the Seahawks, but he did not see the field. His elevation this week puts him in the role of primary back up to Keith Ismael at Center. This is the last time the team can elevate Toth from the practice squad in 2021 without signing him to a regular player contract.

Washington’s center’s have not fared so well in recent weeks. Starter Chase Roullier fractured his leg and was put on IR in Week 8. His backup Tyler Larsen sprained his MCL in Week 11 but remains on the 53-man roster; he will almost certainly be inactive on Sunday. On Monday night, against the Seahawks, Washington’s 3rd center of the season, Wes Schweitzer, turned his right ankle on a play that was shown in super-slow-motion during the game broadcast. Schweitzer, too, remains on the regular roster, but has been ruled out for the Raiders game. Keith Ismael, who played 3 snaps in Week 8, was called upon to play 54 snaps on Monday Night Football, helping Washington to an important win against the Seahawks.

Ismael, drafted out of San Diego State by the Football Team in the 5th round of last year’s draft, gets his first NFL start in Las Vegas, while Jon Toth fills the role of the team’s 5th backup center of the season in his second game as an active member of the Washington Football Team.