We already know the Hall of Fame Game has been scrapped for this year. Even if a labor deal gets done in the next few days and training camps start next week, I’m thinking we could see a very different type of preseason.
As the current schedule stands, according to the NFL, the earliest teams could start training camp would be Wednesday. But that’s just a reporting day and teams can’t practice until Thursday. Teams can’t practice in pads the first two days they hit the field, so it would be next weekend, at the earliest, before teams could practice in pads and hit.
The current schedule also calls for the first preseason games to start on Aug. 11. That’s not a lot of practice time and I’m thinking we won’t see much of the starters in the preseason.
If I’m Sean Payton, I’m not even putting Drew Brees on the field for the first preseason game. If I’m Raheem Morris, I’m not giving LeGarrette Blount more than 10 carries through the entire preseason. If I'm Mike Smith, I give Michael Turner no more than six carries in the preseason.
One of the bright sides of the proposal by the owners is that rosters will begin at 90 players. If I’m a coach, I’m going to play the bottom guys on the roster in the preseason games. Let the starters get their work in during camp, but don’t use them much early in the preseason. Keep them healthy and maybe you’ll get a bonus. Maybe you can use the early preseason games to spot some hidden gems.