With the NFL reducing the preseason from four games to three this year, teams are having to alter their approach of how and when they play their players.
The Detroit Lions will host the Buffalo Bills on Friday (August 13, 7:00 pm ET) for their first game of the 2021 preseason, and the two teams are taking different approaches to how they will use their personnel.
Lions coach Dan Campbell has already confirmed that they plan on playing their starters early in the contest:
“We talked about it yesterday (Sunday) as a staff,” Campbell said at his Monday press conference. “We feel like they (Lions’ starters) need to play. So, I think we’re looking at about a quarter this first preseason game against Buffalo.”
The Bills plan on taking things “on an individual player basis,” per coach Sean McDermott. “Some starters won’t play including Josh Allen. Some will.” Fresh off a new six-year, $258 million contract extension, it’s no surprise the Bills don’t plan on unnecessarily risking their franchise quarterback early in the preseason.
While both teams’ starters will likely be on the bench by the end of the first quarter, the rest of the reserves will get plenty of opportunities to impress—and they’ll need it with the first roster cuts of the season coming the following Tuesday, August 17th. Currently, teams can carry 90-players on their active roster, but that number will be reduced to 85 with the first cuts. A week later, after preseason Game 2, the roster is reduced again this time to 80 players on Tuesday, August 24th. A week after that, following the final preseason game, teams will need to establish their 53-man rosters on Tuesday, August 31st.