The cancellation of the preseason was a necessary evil for the NFL to accept this year. While it will limit the spread of COVID-19 before the scheduled start of the regular season, it will also greatly limit the chances for many young players to make Week 1 rosters.
Several players who made the Bengals’ 80-man roster will experience this struggle, and Bengals head coach Zac Taylor knows it. According to Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com, Taylor spoke of a instituting “multiple scrimmages in an effort to make up for the cancellation of the preseason,” as Hobson put it.
“We’ll have three or four different opportunities where we create some situations where we can really evaluate our guys in a game-like atmosphere,” Taylor said.
Leading up to their preseason games, the Bengals don’t have very many team-based scrimmages in training camp. Players near the bottom of the roster can boost their chances to play in preseason games during those limited opportunities. Now, it appears that those are the only chances players have to prove worthy of roster spot.
The Bengals will have to wait until August 17th to practice in full pads, and Taylor also said he may not utilize all 14 available padded practices. That gives the Bengals less than a month before their Week 1 matchup with the Los Angeles Chargers to prepare their roster after seeing their players perform in full pads. Teams usually have two preseason games worth of film at their disposal by the middle of August in a normal year.
Since the Bengals can’t play exhibitions against other teams, judging their own young talent playing against each other is the only way to simulate these experiences. It’s good that Taylor will bestow opportunities as best as he can, but the road for players living on the roster bubble will remain more difficult than ever before.