If all goes according to plan—and it probably won’t—the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Dallas Cowboys will be the first two teams to report to training camp, because they are scheduled to play in the Hall of Fame game. Otherwise, 28 of 32 teams are scheduled to open training camp on July 28.
That is, again, the plan, but things can change. That is what the NFL and the NFLPA are talking about with one another every day, and will continue to do so over the course of the next several weeks, to figure out just how everything is going to be worked out to get the 2020 season running, and to do it safely.
One thing that is currently under consideration, in part because there haven’t been any Spring workouts, is to replace a preseason game or two with additional ‘warm up’ time in terms of doing work on the practice field, to get acclimated and perhaps to hopefully reduce the risk of some injury. As Jeremy Fowler reported on ESPN:
“After asking around on this, multiple execs loosely expect that training camp will begin on time in late July, but that a ramp-up period would replace one or two preseason games”, he said. “So we’re talking about more conditioning work, more football activities at a team facility instead of game action”.
“Now, quarantining players has been discussed”, he added. “That means putting them in a hotel for a day or two in between their Covid-19 testing and getting them on a practice field, but that is hardly a slam dunk. The NFL and the players’ union continue to talk this stuff out every day, and players probably won’t go for an earlier training camp date, like mid-July, but they would go for [fewer] preseason games”.
Multiple league execs bracing for training camp beginning on time – players likely wouldn’t go for earlier date – but believe ramp-up period of conditioning and football activities could replace first 1-2 preseason games. Quarantining b/t testing and practicing has been discussed pic.twitter.com/E0GVZ6iE59
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) June 18, 2020
For most players of note, reducing the preseason isn’t really going to matter—perhaps at all. But it will seriously affect those on the back end of the roster, because the preseason is where they make teams, especially if their job depends on special teams. With only so many snaps to go around, and almost no chance to show growth, that’s incredibly limiting.
The league has wanted to shorten the preseason for many years, and it should happen in 2021 when the regular season expands to 17 games. Three preseason games is pushing it, but playing only two preseason games would be a real blow for pretty much any longshot. Then you’ll really be livid about the mistreatment of the Diontae Spencers of the world.