Updated July 1, 2020 - 4:28 pm
With less than a month remaining until training camp and COVID-19 cases on the rise, the NFL is proposing that it slash the preseason from four games to two.
The games of Weeks 1 and 4 would be canceled, a league official said. But any decision on cutting the preseason does not become official until it is signed off on by the NFL Players Association. Union leaders are scheduled to meet via conference call on Thursday.
For the Raiders, the proposed move would mean they will not play at the Seattle Seahawks on August 13 or at home against the Los Angeles Rams on September 3.
That would leave the Raiders with just one dress rehearsal at Allegiant Stadium before their regular-season home opener against the New Orleans Saints on Sept. 21.
It would not be an ideal situation, but it certainly beats the alternative of having no walk-up at all to the home opener. The NFL hopes to avoid canceling the preseason altogether, but with COVID-19 creating so much uncertainty that remains a possibility.
For now, though, the league hopes this move will suffice.
The targeted games make sense. By eliminating the first preseason game, teams would get an extra week of practice before having to play a game. The Raiders are scheduled to open training camp at their Henderson practice facility on July 28th, although rookies could report a day or two earlier.
That would give them three weeks to practice before opening the preseason in Santa Clara, California, against the San Francisco 49ers on Aug. 21.
Keep in mind, with COVID-19 shutting down team facilities for most of the last three months, the normal offseason conditioning program has been wiped out. Whereas teams are typically able to get on the field for conditioning and unpadded practices during the designated organized team activities phase of the offseason, all team activities this year were limited to virtual conferencing sessions.
As a result, the normal conditioning and physical football training that players are accustomed to was not an option. The extra week of practice would help to compensate for some of the lost time.
Dropping the fourth preseason game also would make sense as starters and key backups rarely dress, let alone play, for fear of injury ahead of the season opener the following week.
The Raiders will wrap up their preseason at Allegiant Stadium against the Arizona Cardinals on Aug. 27.