Dan Campbell contemplating how much to play veterans in preseason

Sport

Having only three preseason games in 2021 is a significant shift as teams prepare for the upcoming year.

That’s especially for teams with new head coaches.

Detroit’s Dan Campbell is one of them and said Friday that he’s trying to strike a balance between getting the players and staff ready for Week One while also not exposing veteran players to too much unnecessary risk. Campbell said he’s gone back and forth on it throughout the summer.

“We’re a new staff, new players, everything,” Campbell said, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “And you want them to get in the flow of a true game with each other before you get to the season. And even between preseason Game Three and when you play, you’re talking about two-and-a-half weeks, whatever that is. That’s a long time. And so you’d hate to get in the game and be like, ‘All right, we finally found our rhythm in the third quarter against San Francisco.’ My gosh, we’ll be down.

“But then you’re trying to weigh where you’re at, what do you feel like? I think a lot of it’s going to be predicated on where are we at with the roster injury wise. Hopefully we’re healthy and we feel good and all that. How do we really feel about our practices? How we’ve looked? And I think that’s just going to happen. A lot of it’s going to have to be how myself and the staff feels about where we’re at. What do we truly feel like we need?”

Campbell’s thought process is probably similar to that of many coaches around the league, particularly those in their first year. How can a team establish chemistry if they aren’t seeing an opponent and going through the processes?

Especially since Detroit isn’t holding joint practices this summer, it may behoove the Lions to get some full-squad playing time in the preseason — even if it’s only for a drive or two to get comfortable with their gameday operations.