First Domino Falls for Seahawks as NFL Cancels 2 Preseason Games
While training camp remains scheduled to open later this month for the Seahawks and all 32 NFL teams, the preseason will be shortened due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Per a source, the league will eliminate the first and fourth exhibition contests in an effort to limit travel and allow teams extra practice time for acclimation. Such a move has been discussed and rumored for several weeks and with the recent spike in cases in multiple states, it isn't a surprising decision.
Seattle was originally slated to open its preseason at CenturyLink Field on August 13 against the Las Vegas Raiders. But that game as well as the exhibition finale in Minnesota would be scrapped, leaving a road game against the Houston Texans and a home tilt against the Los Angeles Chargers as the only two games on the schedule.
Moving forward, the source indicated the league may explore moving some games based on COVID-19 hotspots, including potentially having the Texans play in Seattle instead of hosting that preseason contest. It's also possible the league could be forced to cut the preseason entirely, though league officials aren't expecting that to be necessary.
Seasoned veterans such as Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner won't be upset about having two less preseason games to grind through. But losing eight quarters of live football will be detrimental to rookies, undrafted players, and fringe veterans trying to battle for a roster spot, especially after already losing OTAs and offseason minicamps.
With the virus remaining a viable threat, the league officials continue to work towards implementing a set of protocols and procedures with hopes of having a full 2020 season. Over the past month, team facilities have slowly opened up to coaches and other team personnel, though players still haven't been allowed to return.
For now, the NFL still plans to open training camps in late July as scheduled, with the possibility rookies and "select players" will be allowed to report early.
According to chief medical officer Allen Sills, the NFL is still working on finalizing procedures to use when players do finally report. Such guidelines will have to be agreed to by the NFL players association, which has been asking agents to advise players about speaking with their doctor in regard to the risks of playing during a pandemic.
While the league remains optimistic about training camp starting on time and a season kicking off in September, this could be the first of many dominos to fall as professional sports try to find a way to exist during unprecedented times.