The NFL preseason is going to have a different look this year and that's because it's been cut in half. CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reports that the NFL will be shaving two weeks off this year's preseason. All games that were schedule to be played in Week 1 and Week 4 of the preseason will be canceled. The decision means that a total of 33 games have now been called off due to the coronavirus pandemic. The NFL previously announced that the Hall of Fame Game, which was originally scheduled for Aug. 8, has been canceled.
According to La Canfora, there's a chance that we could see even more cancellations, and that's because the NFL is still considering the possibility of scrapping the preseason entirely.
The league's decision to cut out half of the preseason isn't a total surprise. The NFL has had the option on the table since early June and with training camp now just weeks away, the league obviously felt it was important to make a decision sooner rather than later.
While Weeks 1 and 4 are cancelled, that doesn't necessarily mean the matchups that are currently slated for Weeks 2 and 3 will be the ones that actually happen. Per the Miami Herald, each team will play one home game and one away game during the shortened preseason schedule, but not all teams have one of each in Weeks 2 and 3. To fix that problem, the NFL will be reshuffling the preseason schedule in a move that's expected to happen as soon as Thursday.
According to ProFootballTalk, who originally reported the preseason cut down, the reason the NFL chose to cancel Weeks 1 and 4 is because that simply made the most sense. Week 1 was cut in order to give players and coaches a longer practice period before they play their first game. Week 4 was cut, because that's generally the most useless week of the preseason with regular starters almost never playing.
Despite the cancellation of half the preseason, the NFL is still reportedly optimistic that the 2020 season will be able to start on time. The league is still finalizing its protocols for the year, and one thing that's almost certainly going to happen is a lot of testing. NFLPA medical director Thom Mayer announced on June 16 that players will likely be tested up to three times per week to prevent the spread of the virus.
Besides canceling preseason games, the NFL has already announced several changes over the past few weeks regarding the 2020 season. For one, the top six to eight rows in every stadium will be blocked off with a tarp. The league is also considering the possibility of requiring fans to sign a waiver if they want to attend a game.