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The Front Row with JASON ELLIOTT June 19, 2010

| June 19, 2010 9:00 PM

On Thursday afternoon, National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell made it known that the league does not need a total of four preseason games anymore, and that the chances of an 18-game regular season soon may become a reality.

With players getting hurt early in the season, maybe it's not such a bad idea anymore.

FOR TEAMS in the NFL, regardless of how long the season goes on, it seems they are practicing year round to prepare for the regular season.

By the time a team starts its training camp, most teams are so familiar with each other, they could start live games within days of opening camp.

Outside of unsigned picks and occasional veteran players holding out, most players are usually ready to play soon after getting into camp.

To add a couple more games to the schedule, those games that are played in the final two weeks of August could start meaning a little more with starters actually playing the entire game instead of sitting back and watching players that don't make the practice squad settle a final score.

If adopted, hopefully the league will also fix it so that division rivals aren't playing each other in at least the first three weeks of the season, instead playing later in the season.

Watching the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers in the opening week isn't a bad thing, but to me, divisional games should wait until at least October.

THOSE GAMES near the end of the season could get a lot more exciting throughout the league, with games between the Vikings and Packers getting more interesting rather than talk of who the quarterback played for previously.

Not only that, but adding two more games to the schedule could make the playoff races even more exciting.

And with starting the season earlier, teams that clinch spots in the playoffs early can rest players with enough time to get them back into a regular season game, eliminating those games when players struggle in the postseason after not having a competitive game in three weeks.

THEN AGAIN, why doesn't the NFL eliminate the preseason completely.

Teams put in enough work with OTAs (organized team activities), and mini-camps . Why not just give teams four months off, then get back to playing in late June.

By that time, most teams have rosters set and unless someone gets injured, most look at the final preseason game as a final scrimmage instead of an actual game.

Fans already pay full price to watch games in August when starters hardly play - just eliminate them and start the regular season before Labor Day.

Starting the season earlier won't make much of a difference for teams.

Having 18 games that count - will.

Jason Elliott is a sports writer for the Coeur d'Alene Press. He can be reached via telephone at 664-8176, Ext. 2020, or by e-mail at jelliott@cdapress.com.

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