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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

Biden plans to ask public to wear masks for first 100 days in office

Joe Biden. Photo: Mark Makela/Gettu Images

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris sat down with CNN on Thursday for their first joint interview since the election.

The big picture: In the hour-long segment, the twosome laid out plans for responding to the pandemic, jump-starting the economy and managing the transition of power, among other priorities.

The quick FCC fix that would get more students online

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As the pandemic forces students out of school, broadband deployment programs aren't going to move fast enough to help families in immediate need of better internet access. But Democrats at the Federal Communications Commission say the incoming Biden administration could put a dent in that digital divide with one fast policy change.

State of play: An existing FCC program known as E-rate provides up to $4 billion for broadband at schools, but Republican FCC chairman Ajit Pai has resisted modifying the program during the pandemic to provide help connecting students at home.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
48 mins ago - Politics & Policy

America's hidden depression

Biden introduces his pick for Treasury secretary, Janet Yellen, on Dec. 1. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President-elect Biden faces a fragile recovery that could easily fall apart, as the economy remains in worse shape than most people think.

Why it matters: There is a recovery happening. But it's helping some people immensely and others not at all. And it's that second part that poses a massive risk to the Biden-Harris administration's chance of success.