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How Will NFL Lockout Affect 2011 Preseason Schedule?

By many accounts the NFL lockout is close to ending and could be done with by Thursday which means most teams would begin training camp at the end of the following week. That's great news for football fans who have been grasping at straws for any positive movement in the labor talks since the work stoppage began on March 12.

If a deal does get done this week then it appears the preseason schedule would be intact (with the only question mark being the first preseason game, the Aug. 7).

So I've been wondering if the lockout will affect how preseason games go down. Will the starters play more to prepare for the season since there weren't any offseason workouts? Or will the rookies see more time because the coaches don't know anything about them at this point? And what about the undrafted free agents?

There are lots of questions at this point and we won't have a true answer on those until the preseason games start. The coaches are in a tough spot because they have to prepare all 90 guys on their training camp roster for the start of the regular season but there's only so much playing time to go around.

I would predict that most presumed starters see a slight increase in playing time throughout the preseason. They're the ones who will make the biggest difference in the regular season so, the first order of business, should be making sure that they're ready.

The third preseason game is generally when the starters play the most and they see more rest in the fourth game. This year, that fourth game could resemble the third game with the starters playing into the second half.