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Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers and Baltimore's Joe Callahan. Photo: Todd Olszewski/Getty Images

The third week of NFL preseason used to be the week when starters played deeper into games and gave us clues about the regular season. As last night proved, that is no longer the case.

What happened: Andy Dalton, Eli Manning and Nick Foles barely played; Lamar Jackson and Carson Wentz never saw the field; and neither did Aaron Rodgers or Derek Carr — though that was due to the field being 80 yards long (no, really).

  • The Panthers, Jaguars and Redskins (and others) played their starters for longer, but they might regret that now: Panthers QB Cam Newton sprained his foot, while Jaguars WR D.J. Chark and Redskins TE Jordan Reed and suffered concussions.

The backdrop: Last year, Rams head coach Sean McVay determined that preseason football wasn't worth the injury risk — or really all that necessary when evaluating players — and sat his entire starting offense for all four games.

  • The move was met with skepticism (how would players knock the rust off?!), but the Rams silenced the haters by winning their first eight games, making the Super Bowl and, perhaps most importantly, being one of the league's healthiest teams.

On top of that, a growing number of coaches have come out and said they prefer joint practices to preseason games.

"The only real change from a game to a practice is in a game you don't get to do it over. At least in a practice setting, if we make a mistake, we can line up and do it again, and so we can correct that mistake right away. ... We get a little bit better evaluation in practice."
— Eagles coach Doug Pederson, per NJ.com

The bottom line: The NFL has considered shortening the preseason for years, and it feels like we've reached a breaking point. It's time. Nobody wants this anymore.

A simple solution: Eliminate two of the four preseason games, move the season start date back one week and then play 16 regular-season games over 18 weeks, with every team getting two bye weeks.

  • This would add another week of regular-season football to make up for lost preseason TV revenue, while also potentially providing enough scheduling flexibility to give teams a bye before playing on "Thursday Night Football."

Go deeper, via ESPN: Preseason Week 3 takeaways

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Congressional leaders clinch support for crucial defense bill, debt limit votes

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer passes waiting reporters on Tuesday. Photo: Eric Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Congress has found a shortcut to pass its annual defense funding bill and raise the debt limit.

Driving the news: The House voted Tuesday night on two major bills — one creating a one-time, fast-track process for the Senate to raise the debt ceiling with just 51 votes, and another passing its annual defense bill.

House passes annual defense bill

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The House voted to pass the annual defense bill 363-70 on Tuesday night, authorizing nearly $770 billion in funding for defenses and national security programs.

Why it matters: The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) still has to clear the Senate, but the House passage greatly increases the chances that the must-pass defense bill will move through both chambers of Congress before the end of the year.

Women politicians are under siege

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Kevin Dietsch, Stefani Reynolds, and Alex Wong/Getty Images

Women in Congress feel besieged and singled-out amid surging threats against lawmakers at all levels, with some frustrated more hasn't been done to halt the trend.

Why it matters: As record numbers of American women are being elected to public office, their growing political power is being met with death and rape threats, sexist and racist abuse and online disinformation. Collectively, it's discouraged women from running for office.