The National Football League is planning to cut the league’s preseason schedule from four games to two and pushing back the start of the exhibition games, per a report from the Associated Press.
The amended schedule will essentially cut out Weeks 1 and 4 of the preseason with each team still playing their Week 2 and 3 opponents. The Tennessee Titans would no longer travel to Washington on Aug. 15 or host Chicago on Sept. 3, but they would keep their Aug. 22 home matchup against the New York Giants and they’d still travel to Tampa Bay on Aug. 29.
“Those preseason games, they’re extremely important for those guys that are on the roster bubble, that are kind of clamoring for spots, maybe they’re on the outside looking in for their team,” Titans GM Jon Robinson said recently. “But also, these rookie free agents and evaluating those guys, we’ll have to be extremely creative. Maybe go back and watch some of their college film to see is there anything that we see in however many preseason games that they play in that they might be a help for our football team.”
With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the NFL is limiting the risk of exposure for players and staff with the elimination of 32 non-vital road games before the start of the season. It also affords coaches extra time with their players for additional practice and training after conducting virtual offseason programs with no on-field work.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame already canceled the league’s annual Hall of Fame game, which serves as the preseason opener every year. The game was originally scheduled for Aug. 6 in Canton, Ohio between the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Hall of Fame induction ceremony was also scrapped and pushed back to 2021. Currently, team training camps are expected to begin on July 28 and no changes to the regular season have been announced. All teams must adhere to league and local guidelines regarding health and safety procedures for COVID-19.
“We’ve got the list of protocols,” Robinson added. “We’ve been trying to unpack that and think and brainstorm of how we’re going to get training camp accomplished as normal as possible, knowing that there’s going to be hurdles along the way. We’re looking at various spaces so that we can maintain the distance required, that our players are safe.”
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