Cardinals, NFL Down to Two Preseason Games

Mason Kern

In a move spearheaded by the continued spike in COVID-19 cases across the country, none more so than in the Arizona Cardinals home state, the NFL has cut two games off its four-contest preseason schedule, according to Pro Football Talk

Week 1 and Week 4 are the slated preseason games that are being squashed and Pro Football Talk also reported that the league will make the announcement as soon as Thursday.

"The move was driven by two primary factors," PFT's Mike Florio wrote. "First, teams who will be playing preseason games on the road won’t want to move that many people. Second, given that no teams had on-field practice sessions in the offseason, coaches would rather have the extra time to work with their teams, and that will happen if they don’t have to worry about two extra preseason games."

The Cardinals, specifically, were slated to play on the road against the Green Bay Packers in Week 1 of the preseason at 10 a.m. local time on Saturday, Aug. 15. In Week 4, Arizona was scheduled to host the Denver Broncos at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 3.

Should Weeks 2 and 3 commence as currently scheduled, the Cards will first host the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 22 and then hit the road the following week to Las Vegas to play the newly-located Raiders at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 27. They would then have 17 days until the season opener.

The league will be juggling the schedules because four teams (Buffalo, Dallas, Miami and Tampa Bay) had home games in Weeks 3 and 4 while another four (Carolina, Kansas City, Minnesota and Washington) are scheduled for road games both weeks. The goal is to have each team play one home and one away game for balance, but that also provides every team with becoming accustomed with road games in the current environment.

Thus, it's possible that a team like the Cardinals could have an opponent change. The game against the Chiefs might end up being a home game for Kansas City against a different opponent, necessitating the Cardinals playing a different team at home that week. It could potentially be like a large jigsaw puzzle as the league reworks the schedules.

The Cardinals open the regular season with a trip to face last season's Super Bowl runner-up San Francisco 49ers at 1:25 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 13.

With the coronavirus ceasing traditional offseason programs and forcing players to train on their own — or, in recent weeks, coordinate private workouts like Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray did in Dallas, Tex. Preseason games already featured limited regular starters seeing game action and it is unclear how teams might proceed in the altered format considering players have already had reduced training time.

However, organizations will get a period of acclimation period of nearly three weeks in an effort to get players back in football shape at the start of camp, which is scheduled to start on July 28 for 30 teams. Kansas City and Houston, which play in the Thursday season opener Sept. 10 will report July 25. Teams are also able to have their rookies report one week earlier with quarterbacks reporting two days after the rookies.

All 32 franchises will have to contend with the lack of training and less preseason games, but those that adapt the best will produce the most successful results once players return to the gridiron. While the Cardinals did introduce a plethora of new talent on the roster, most of the key components remain consistent as Murray and head coach Kliff Kingsbury enter Year 2 of their regime together in the desert.