Talk of reducing NFL preseason arises again

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford sat out the first and last preseason game last season, playing 49 snaps.

Allen Park — It's a topic that seems to come up every few years. Earlier this week, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell went back to the well, suggesting the league should consider reducing its preseason schedule from the current four-game standard. 

"I feel what we should be doing is always to the highest quality, and I'm not sure preseason games meet that level right now," Goodell said on Monday while participating in a charity golf outing. 

"I'm not sure, talking with coaches, that four preseason games is necessary anymore to get ready for a season to evaluate players, develop players," he said. "There are other ways of doing that, and we've had a lot of discussions about that."

With the increasing trend of joint practices, starting players are seeing less time than ever in preseason contests. Last year, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford sat out both the first and fourth game, playing a total of 49 snaps during the preseason.

Detroit's defensive starters played a bit more, as they were learning a new scheme, but many still sat out half of the preseason slate.  The Lions rested 35 players for the preseason finale. 

Yet season ticket holders are required to buy the tickets to preseason games as part of their packages. 

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Lions coach Matt Patricia didn't have an opinion to express on potential reducing the preseason, but said he's prepared to adjust if the league eventually reaches that conclusion. 

"We’re going to do whatever it is to get ready to go," Patricia said. "I think it definitely would change and alter the plan of attack, and I think the league would obviously understand that and try to help us any way they could."

If the NFL did go to a shorter preseason schedule, it's unclear how they would fill that extra time. There are a number of routes that could be explored, including expanding the offseason practice schedule or even moving to an oft-discussed 18-game regular season. 

Given his emphasis on fundamentals, and the time constraints the NFL's collective bargaining agreement puts on developing them, Patricia would probably embrace extra practice time.

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers