RICHMOND — It’s no secret that NFL owners want to expand the regular season to 18 games.
And it’s no surprise that the NFL Players Association opposes the idea, even if the owners drop two of the four preseason games as a concession, loathe to submit their bodies to the pounding of two more regular season games.
Given the potential revenue at stake, however, the issue isn’t likely to go away.
As various scenarios are debated in the coming months and years, it’s conceivable that “joint practices” during the preseason — such as the one the Washington Redskins and New England Patriots are staging Monday through Wednesday — could be part of the horse-trading.
In short, could a joint practice take the place of a preseason game — limiting the contact players are exposed to, yet giving coaches an alternate way of evaluating the players jockeying for roster spots?
Asked about such a scenario, first-year Redskins Coach Jay Gruden said it was “far out of my decision-making capabilities.” But he clearly didn’t think it would suffice.
“When we’re going against New England, we’re going to have very few periods that are live — maybe one or two possibly,” Gruden said of the upcoming joint practices. “Obviously, the preseason games are live, and there is tackling and all that, so I don’t envision that happening anytime soon.”
NFL Network analyst Charley Casserly, who served as the Redskins’ general manager from 1989-99, said it’s conceivable some would advocate replacing the fourth preseason game, in which veterans play very little, with a rookie scrimmage to give coaches a better look at younger players.
But it’s not a scenario he’d favor.
“I’ve always felt strongly about the value of four preseason games,” Casserly said. “From a quarterback’s point of view, I feel it’s essential. A guy like Tony Romo would never have been Tony Romo without all those preseason games.
Nor would Aaron Rogers, Casserly added, noting the three preseasons in which Rogers got the bulk of reps while Brett Favre pondered whether to return.
“If a coach just has two preseason games, how many reps is your quarterback going to get? Not a lot,” Casserly said. “Or if you’re like Minnesota or Cleveland, trying to figure out who is my quarterback, you’re going to have to pick one [quickly] and then play the games for real.
“There are a lot of reasons, to me, for it to stay where it is.”
The Redskins begin their first joint practice with the New England Patriots Monday at 8:35 a.m. Here’s our camp guide, if you’re planning to attend.
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