FOOTBALL IS BACK, BABY! Do not let the fact that the games don’t count and the players taking the most reps tend not to matter ruin your first football fix of the year.
The National Football League is the king of sports in America and many international cities globally. The long wasteland that is the NFL offseason finally saw its final day last week due to the annual NFL Hall of Fame Game. With the anticipation and excitement being ratcheted up since Football is back on the television, how does the casual fan get the much-awaited football fix from the preseason?
The things that happen during the NFL preseason may be hard to understand for those fans who do not have a full-blown addiction. Players you have never heard of starting at the most critical positions, constant changes in who is getting reps, and the longer the game goes on, the sloppier the play seems to get. So how can you avoid your initial football fix becoming a letdown? Here I will go over the main things you can look for during the preseason to get a glimpse into what the front office and coaching staff are trying to accomplish.
Is a younger guy getting way more snaps than usual? This is an indication of many things, and most times, it can mean all are true. Players getting high reps in the preseason can mean the coaching staff needs to get more tape to see if they can perform the role they need to fill. There are only 53 players allowed on an NFL team, and every roster spot is meticulously managed.
Special teams, sub-packages, and rotational players must be ready to start if called on and fulfill these previously mentioned roles to have a well-rounded team. If a special teams ace gets many reps during offense or defense, the coaching staff ensures he can be used in all roles, not just special teams. If an outside corner doesn’t win an outside corner position, he can be tested with high reps in nickel and dime coverage to ensure he can be used in any role that roster spot requires.
Another reason a player, veteran, or initial contract player can be getting extra reps is the front office is trying to leverage his performance in the preseason to trade the player. Having a good idea coming out of training camp, coaching staffs communicate to the front offices that players trending towards the 3rd 4th string may have trade value. Have a 3rd-year guard play majority of the offensive line snaps in a game? The front office may want to trade him.
Not playing is another telling story to understand. If the coaching staff tabs they have seen enough from a younger player but feel the depth behind him is not good enough, they may take a conservative approach and tab him as irreplaceable, limiting his risk to injury by sitting them. Having your core 22 opening week is the goal of every 32 NFL clubs. The need to get game reps is lowered with joint practices being so in trend.
Every year there are multiple trades and waiver claims before the regular season 53-man roster is locked in. So watching your favorite NFL team during the preseason is good, but watching numerous games during the preseason can give you an idea of who these players find their way on your team’s 53. So watch as many NFL preseason games as possible, and keep an eye on who is playing, who is not, and who is playing significant reps. You can use that knowledge to understand how your favorite team manages their rosters to finalize their 53-man rosters for week 1.