It was a necessary decision that positively affects players and their risk of contracting the coronavirus. However, axing the four exhibition games will negatively impact a large number of players, and the evaluation process of teams that look to cut their rosters down from 75 to 53 by the start of the regular season.
All players are set to report to training camp next Tuesday, starting up battles for starting positions and roster spots across the league. While camp is where a large chunk of the team's evaluation process comes from (especially for a player on the bubble), countless late-round draft picks, undrafted rookies, and veterans have won jobs through preseason play every year.
Players at the bottom of a 53-man roster don't always make the same impact a 12th man might in the NBA, but the Bills saw in the 2020 playoffs what someone on the bubble in August could suddenly do in January.
Wide receiver Duke Williams was a backup that made minimal impact in his first NFL season last year, but the former Canadian Football League star did make some big plays when his number was called. Against the Houston Texans in the playoffs, Williams hauled in four receptions for 49 yards, including a 20-yard reception. The 27-year-old rookie also caught the game-winning touchdown Week 5 against the Tennessee Titans. Three of his 12 receptions went for 20-plus yards.
This year, rookie wide receivers in Gabriel Davis and Isaiah Hodgins will push Williams for a roster spot, but no preseason will certainly put them at a disadvantage. Buffalo saw their eventual starting running back in rookie Devin Singletary shine in the preseason last summer. Singletary's performance allowed the organization to feel comfortable enough to release LeSean McCoy before the season began.
Most fans don't like the preseason, and rightfully so. It takes an entire month to get through, and the gameplay is pretty brutal to watch. You still have to feel for players that may not get the chances they normally would, to show teams what they can do.