The NFL preseason could feature half as many games as we're accustomed to seeing.
ProFootballTalk reported Wednesday that Week 1 and Week 4 of the 2020 preseason will be eliminated.
Here's an explanation from PFT's Mike Florio:
The move was driven by two primary factors. First, teams who will be playing preseason games on the road won’t want to move that many people. Second, given that no teams had on-field practice sessions in the offseason, coaches would rather have the extra time to work with their teams, and that will happen if they don’t have to worry about two extra preseason games.
The NFLPA has yet to sign off on these moves, according to NFL Media's Mike Garafolo:
While the expectation for weeks has been the NFL goes to two preseason games, the NFLPA hasn’t signed off. and some in union leadership continue to question whether it’s smart to play ANY preseason games, sources tell me and @TomPelissero. Board of reps call Thursday. Stay tuned.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) July 1, 2020
These cuts make a lot of sense as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the United States and the rest of the world. The pandemic has forced all offseason activities so far to be held virtually. Training camps are scheduled to begin July 28, and the league announced earlier this week that it's sticking to that date.
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What would these preseason changes mean for the New England Patriots? It's not yet known if teams will just play their Week 2 and Week 3 preseason games, or if any opponents and/or dates will also be changed.
Here's the Patriots' original preseason schedule that was announced a few weeks ago:
- Thursday, August 8 at Lions, 7:30 p.m.
- Saturday, August 17 at Titans, 7:00 p.m.
- Thursday, August 22 vs. Panthers, 7:30 p.m.
- Thursday, August 29 vs. Giants, 7:30 p.m.
The most intriguing matchup on the Patriots' preseason schedule is with the Panthers, especially after New England reportedly agreed to sign former Carolina quarterback Cam Newton.
Newton spent nine seasons with the Panthers before being released in March. He was a free agent for several months before finally landing in New England. This preseason matchup would be Newton's first time playing against the team that drafted him No. 1 overall in 2011.
It sounds like both the league and NFLPA still have some things to work out regarding the preseason. In any event, playing the full four-game schedule doesn't make a ton of sense given the current COVID-19 situation.