If you missed it yesterday, the NFL announced there will be no preseason games in 2020. I don’t imagine many fans will be too disappointed in that, considering the world’s situation, as long as there is eventually a football season. It’s also won’t bother many players, who would rather not risk injury in meaningless exhibition games. But for some, this is their tryout — the only opportunity they have to showcase their ability. So while to the majority, this may not seem like a big deal, several players will see their dreams come to an end prematurely because of this news.
In the NFL, a massive chunk of the league is undrafted. The Falcons added 20 UDFAs this year alone to compete for roster spots, and there’s a substantial chance a few of them would have made the roster and possibly contributed as rookies. With no preseason, it will be much more difficult for the coaching staff to put an UDFA on the roster over a player with NFL experience. Sure, there’s still the opportunity for them to prove themselves in practice, but even those will likely be limited. In a shortened offseason without a preseason, practices will probably be a lot more about getting roster players ready for the regular season.
Luckily, the Falcons only have six rookies this year. However, they need at least a couple of them to contribute in a significant way. That’s going to be much more difficult without a preseason, which could spell trouble for the defense. Guys like A.J. Terrell and Marlon Davidson are being counted on to make an immediate impact. If they can’t, it will be another long year for Raheem Morris’ group.
Fringe Roster Players
I don’t want to get into too many names, but there are a bunch of players on the roster — like friend of the podcast Kurt Benkert — who have been battling for an NFL roster spot for years. They aren’t going to have many more chances. The preseason allows so many players the opportunity to try out not just for the team they are on but also for every organization. Scouts and coaches are watching every game, and whether you end up making the 53-man roster for the team you’re on, there’s always the chance you impress somebody else. Without a preseason, that opportunity vanishes completely. Benkert summed it up perfectly with this tweet.
When you get into the NFL, they tell you preseason is an interview to show 31 other teams what you can do. Hopefully there will be something in the media for camp coverage to give guys a chance to be seen since now it’ll be easier than ever to stash guys away on p squad, etc.
— Kurt Benkert (@KurtBenkert) July 20, 2020