There was a time, not so long ago, when the Dallas Cowboys were scheduled to participate in five preseason games for the 2020 season. Now, they might be down to one.
The first to go was the Hall of Fame game, which if everything had gone to plan, would have been played in just a few weeks time. The Cowboys were scheduled to play the Pittsburgh Steelers in that game but everything involved with it, including the enshrinement of Jimmy Johnson and Cliff Harris, has been pushed until 2021.
Following that, there was acknowledgement from the league that they were planning on having each team play only two preseason games instead of the usual four. The casualties were Week 1 and Week 4 of the preseason.
Now, it looks like we might be down to just one preseason game, Week 3, which is typically the dress rehearsal.
The NFL’s latest proposal to players includes just one preseason game, rather than two, sources say.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 20, 2020
Players still want no preseason games and a longer acclimation period. But a sign the sides are working and getting closer to a plan for 2020.
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The NFLPA had originally requested that there be no preseason games. They would still have to agree to having one, but for the sake of roster-building and getting a look at rookies and such, one game might be preferable. It’s already going to be hard for UDFAs to make the squad with no offseason of work to impress the coaching staff. Having at least one preseason game might help make some of those bottom of the roster decisions.
In previous years, the preseason game in Week 3 is usually the dress rehearsal. This year, if it is the only preseason game it will look radically different. You can expect teams to sit basically all of their starters and rotational pieces, and field a team of rookies and bottom of the roster guys trying to hold on to a spot.
If this proposal goes through, the training camp schedule would look something like this:
[One preseason game] would allow for something closer to the schedule recommended by a joint committee put in place by the NFL and NFLPA. That schedule includes three weeks of strength and conditioning work, 10 days of non-padded practice and 10 days of padded practice over the final two weeks. The actual schedule might not match up exactly, but losing another preseason game would move closer to what players have been asking for in recent talks.