The final 53-man rosters for NFL teams must be set by Sept. 3 this year, following an Aug. 30 deadline to pare rosters down to 80 players. The 80-man limit is slightly larger than the 75-man limitation of previous seasons, giving more players an extended shot at making final rosters. The last preseason games take place on Sept. 1, with the Raiders and Seahawks playing on Sept. 2. Week 4 of preseason is generally used to give starters one last rest before the regular season.
Also of note, the NFL has done with the third quarterback rule, expanding active gameday rosters to 46. The third quarterback rule stipulated that a team's No. 3 quarterback must be designated as "inactive," and could only enter the game in an emergency. Under the rule, the No. 3 quarterback could not be replaced by the team's starter or backup if he entered within the first three quarters of the game. The NFL has decided to do away with the complexity, using the "emergency" slot as normal roster spot and allowing teams to interchange quarterbacks as they see fit.
The third quarterback rule featured prominently in this year's NFC Championship game when Bears coach Lovie Smith inserted Caleb Hanie at the tail end of the third quarter in place of the injured and struggling Jay Cutler and Todd Collins. Because he did not hold off until the fourth, the Bears would not have been able to place Cutler or Collins back in the game should Hanie have gotten hurt.
Keep an eye on our NFL hub for news on roster cuts in the coming days.