Patriots

NFL rumors: Week 1 and Week 4 of 2020 preseason schedule to be eliminated

NFL rumors: Week 1 and Week 4 of 2020 preseason schedule to be eliminated

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:

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. 

Patriots Talk Podcast: Training camp position battles to watch

Patriots Talk Podcast: Training camp position battles to watch

Finally, the New England Patriots are back on the field at Gillette Stadium.

The new-look Pats had their first practice of 2020 on Wednesday, which means training camp position battles are officially underway. The obvious position battle in camp will be at the quarterback position between Cam Newton and Jarrett Stidham, but there are many more intriguing battles to keep an eye on.

In a brand new Patriots Talk Podcast, Tom E. Curran and Phil Perry break down the positions where these battles will take place.

Patriots Talk Podcast - Training Camp Preview: Burning Questions. Bold Predictions | Listen & subscribe | Watch on YouTube

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Perry named the Patriots' three most notable position battles, starting with the QB position. While it's technically a battle between Newton and Stidham, some believe it's a foregone conclusion Newton will be the Week 1 starter.

"You have the quarterback spot with Cam vs. Stidham. Let's move past that, we've talked enough about that, we both think Cam is going to win the job. Not a real battle, per se," Perry said.

"Let's go back to the outside linebackers. This is a four-way cage match between Chase Winovich, Anfernee Jennings, Shilique Calhoun, and Brandon Copeland. My guy is going to be Anfernee Jennings, but I do think that's a battle. Whatever that opposite John Simon edge spot is called, somebody's got to fill it.

"Number three, let's talk special teams ... who is your returner? Is it Kyle Dugger, your first draft pick in this year's draft? Is it J.J. Taylor? Fun as hell to watch, would be fun as hell to watch in the kicking game. Or is it last year's guy, Gunner [Olszewski]? They don't want to give it to Julian Edelman, we know that, so one of those three guys I think will win it."

For Curran, it's a newly-added safety who will have his attention in camp.

"I'm going to head over to the secondary for the position battle that I'm interested to watch," Curran said. "I have a good feeling of who's going to shine there and it's my defensive dark horse for this camp and this season -- it's going to be Adrian Phillips at the safety spot holding off a young Kyle Dugger.

"I think Adrian Phillips is going to be an absolute eye-opener at the safety position ... Adrian Phillips is a talented player, he's closer to [Patrick] Chung than he is Devin McCourty. He's going to be a really good player for the Patriots this year. But I'm going to be real interested to see how Dugger competes ... he's an athletic unicorn."

Curran and Perry also discuss the burning questions surrounding the Patriots, why the Pats should explore using the triple option, bold predictions for the 2020 season, and much more.

Check out the latest episode of the Patriots Talk Podcast on the NBC Sports Boston Podcast Network or on YouTube.

Patriots' 2020 draft pick Dustin Woodard retires before rookie season

Patriots' 2020 draft pick Dustin Woodard retires before rookie season

One of the New England Patriots' 2020 draft picks has decided to retire before his rookie season began.

The team announced Thursday it has placed offensive lineman Dustin Woodard on the reserve/retired list.

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Woodard, who played college football at the University of Memphis, was selected by the Patriots in the seventh round (230th overall) of April's draft. The 22-year-old center/guard was one of three offensive linemen taken by the Patriots in the 2020 draft, along with guard Michael Onwenu (sixth round) and tackle Justin Herron (sixth round).

Why is Woodard retiring? ESPN's Mike Reiss reported additional details:

The Patriots signed center Tyler Gauthier on Wednesday in a move that adds some depth to the position following Woodard's retirement. Woodard had a chance to make the roster as the backup center behind starter David Andrews.