By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
Nobody’s quite sure if the 2020 NFL season will begin as scheduled.
The COVID-19 pandemic has already postponed (or straight-up canceled) OTAs, and this is typically around the time that the team is going through its rookie minicamp. That’s obviously not happening right now, and most teams (including the New England Patriots) have been left to go through ‘virtual workouts’ with their rosters.
But the league is proceeding as if it will indeed be business as usual this season. It started with last week’s schedule release and continued on Friday with the release of the 2020 preseason slate.
And for the Patriots, that schedule is full of familiar foes from a summer ago.
Thursday, August 13 vs. Detroit Lions (7:30 p.m.)
Just like they did in 2019, the Patriots will open up their preseason against Matt Patricia and the Lions, though this year will see the Lions come to Foxborough. And just like they did in Detroit, it feels likely that these teams will go through some joint practices leading up to their preseason opener. The connections to these teams go beyond Patricia and Bill Belichick, too, as the Lions signed linebacker Jamie Collins in free agency and traded for safety Duron Harmon earlier this offseason. Wide receiver Danny Amendola, who spent five years with the Patriots, remains with the Lions after re-upping with Detroit.
Thursday, August 20 vs. Carolina Panthers (7:30 p.m.)
The Panthers will report to Gillette for the second preseason in a row. Last year’s preseason meeting had some pretty disastrous results for both teams, too, as the Panthers’ Cam Newton and New England No. 1 tight end Ben Watson were both injured in the contest. Newton’s injury woes bled into the regular season (and effectively ended it after just a couple of games) and though Watson’s concussion was healed up by the time his four-game ban ended, it definitely didn’t help his disjointed season.
Thursday, August 27 at Philadelphia Eagles (7:30 p.m.)
This year’s “Regular Season Warm-Up” will come at The Linc against Carson Wentz and the Eagles. It’ll be interesting to see how second-year pro Jarrett Stidham and veteran Brian Hoyer split this game.
Thursday, September 3 at New York Giants (7:00 p.m.)
And as always (or for the 16th consecutive summer), the preseason will end with a head-to-head with the Giants. This year’s tilt will shift to MetLife Stadium, leading me to ask just who will play the role of Danny Etling this time around: J’Mar Smith or Brian Lewerke?