Caldwell on preseason format: 'I like it the way it is'
Allen Park — Despite all the precautions, the NFL preseason is a crucible of contact and potential injuries. With a four-game schedule and padded practices, the opportunity for the unwanted twist, sprain — or worse — is waiting at the next practice repetition.
It came for the Giants receiver Odell Beckham, who suffered an ankle injury in the preseason game against the Cleveland Browns on Monday.
But Lions coach Jim Caldwell wouldn’t change the current structure of the preseason, even with the risk. He’s said before that players can get injured on any play, in practice or a preseason game.
“The number of games is fine,” Caldwell said before Wednesday’s practice. “The important part of it is you get a chance to develop your young guys and get a look at the guys who may not have been with you getting a look and getting taught and instructed.
“(Four games) is fine. It’s the right balance and it’s been that way for a long time. You’d like to have more time in preseason but also you have to take into consideration the health of the players. Every coach would like to have more time. I don’t think there’s any coach asking for more preseason games, though.”
Many teams have placed additional focus on assessing players and figuring out whether they’ll be fits for the roster based on practice time than the games themselves. That includes joint practices with other teams ahead of games, as the Lions did with the Indianapolis Colts prior to the preseason opener.
The Lions haven’t sustained any major injuries in training camp this year but the suggestion of eliminating one preseason game for additional practice time or more joint practice is appealing.
“If there’s a tradeoff, you’d have to look at some mechanism where you could get some evaluations done and that would be the next step,” Caldwell said. “If that (first preseason) game was eliminated, then you could look at ways to compete against someone else to get a good evaluation.
“That’s the reason teams are doing that. Everyone is talking four preseason games but people are adding joint practices. At some point, if that changes, it changes, but I like it the way it is.”
Teams are getting a longer look at some of their second-tier players this year, with the change to one cut-down day. Instead of trimming the roster gradually to get to the 53-man limit, teams now can carry 90 players until the Sept. 2 deadline, where they can have more flexibility with the roster.
It’s a change that allows teams to take a longer look before making their final decisions.
“You always see some adjustments according to what rules are changed. There probably will be some adjustments and deals done the third week before all that happens,” Caldwell said. “For the most part, the big thing is going to be the availability of so many people in a short period of time for people to evaluate and look at and they had to do their homework prior to that.
“It’s going to be a little different in that regard.”