The NFL and NFLPA are discussing a plan that would shorten the preseason to just two games, according to NFL Network reporter Tom Pelissero.
Shortening the preseason would allow for a longer “ramp-up” period, regardless of whether players agree to report a week or two early, and provide extra time for medical experts to finalize game-day protocols for testing, etc. More at the top of the hour on @nflnetwork— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) June 10, 2020
As Pelissero notes, shortening the preseason would be done to give teams a longer acclimation period amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Because of the virus, sports teams in all sorts of leagues in America and worldwide are being forced to slowly bring back players and re-acclimate them to their teams. That includes social-distancing, wearing masks, and quarantining players who test positive for the virus (some teams are quarantining players as soon as they arrive, regardless if they test positive for the virus or not).
We’re also seeing teams bring back their players in smaller groups vs. having everyone report within a couple of days like we normally see. That’s why it’s likely going to take NFL teams longer to get everyone back into their buildings and tested for the virus before they can do any kind of work together.
This could lead to training camp report dates taking a week, if not longer before teams like the Bengals get everyone back in Cincinnati and ready to hit the Paul Brown Stadium practice fields.
By canceling two preseason games, that’s two more weeks teams would have to get everyone back and ready to rock before the regular season begins.
Currently, the Bengals have preseason games at Kansas City, at Atlanta, and home games vs. Indianapolis and Minnesota. If there’s a shortened preseason, I’d expect the games that would be taken out would be the ones with the longest travel distances.
So for the Bengals, it would make sense to not have the games vs. the Chiefs and Vikings since Minnesota to Cincinnati and Cincinnati to Kansas City are longer travels than Indianapolis to Cincinnati and Cincinnati to Atlanta.
The bad thing is this hurts teams like the Bengals who have a lot of new players expected to have major roles in 2020, including No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow. He needs every preseason snap the Bengals can get him, so having two less preseason games could lead to more growing pains when the regular season begins.