One change in the NFL this year that will impact the way some clubs approach their preparations for the season is the 80-man roster limit.
In past years, teams had the use of up to six additional players through NFL Europa roster exemptions. But NFL Europa has folded and owners seemingly have not made it a priority to increase the roster limit.
In discussions with two AFC head coaches over the past two weeks -- and in reading comments like these from Carolina head coach John Fox -- it is clear that the change is going to alter the approach of some clubs. Some coaches are concerned about over-taxing players too soon, and rushing in their evalutaions of some fringe-roster players because they have less flexibility on their roster.
The feeling here is that the Patriots are one of the clubs that will be affected most by this change, mainly because the club played into early February in a 2007 season that was both a physical and mental grind. They've annually had a shorter offseason than most teams.
Bill Belichick annually makes the point that training camp has two main purposes -- to prepare the club for the regular-season opener, and the 16-game regular season.
With that in mind, it would not be surprising if the Patriots consider shortening training camp, or perhaps altering their 2-1-2 practice approach (two practices one day, one practice the next day, two practices the next day).
With fewer players to work with, and a group of veterans who seemingly have a solid grasp on the team's system, the less-is-more approach might be the most effective approach to keep the team fresh for the long haul.
As one veteran player recently said, this offseason has been rejuvenating by actually getting away from football a bit: "Sometimes it helps to remove yourself from the competitive arena and take some time to be a normal person."