Frazier: 'Preseason has become a premium' with recent CBA
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MANKATO, Minn. -- The NFL's new collective bargaining agreement signed during the summer of 2011 eliminated the grueling two-a-day padded practices that were a staple of most training camps.
With NFL teams now limited to one padded practice a day, accompanied by a walkthrough period, a subtle change is the added value to preseason games.
"In today's NFL, the preseason has become a premium because of the limited amount of exposure you get in actual practices," Minnesota Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. "Those preseason games have more importance because you're trying to identify the right 53."
The preseason offers a chance for no-name players to emerge and possibly make the 53-man roster or slip onto the practice squad. Current Vikings players like cornerback Marcus Sherels have gone undrafted and still managed to make the practice squad and ultimately the team.
Players like cornerback Bobby Felder, who made the practice squad last year as an undrafted free agent, will be under the microscope as he tries his hand at punt returning and sees extended time with the defense.
"Can the guys execute their assignments under the lights," Defensive coordinator Alan Williams said. "That's the big thing. When the crowd gets out there, the emotions start flowing and the juices start to flow, can they execute and do what they've been doing in individuals and what the coaches ask them to do in the meeting rooms."
On Friday, the Vikings open their preseason at home against the Houston Texans and Frazier said there are guys he's keeping his eyes on.
"We've got a number of guys we're counting on, some of our late picks and free agents we signed," Frazier said. "Whether it be [Gerald] Hodges, [Michael] Mauti, [Jeff] Baca, there are a number of guys we're going to take a real hard look at. A guy like Erik Highsmith, just to see how he'll do in this environment, being a free agent."
The new CBA, which is in effect through the 2020-21 season, also limits the number of full-contact practices in the regular season -- teams are limited to 14 through the entire season, with 11 having to come in the first 11 weeks (maximum of one per week).