The NFL pre-season is halfway over, with teams across the country wrapping up training camp and completing their second exhibition games over the weekend. What are the important dates for the upcoming 2014 NFL season that we should know about?
Sunday August 17th - Denver Broncos @ San Francisco 49ers (2:00pm MDT)
The Broncos travel to the shiny new Levi’s stadium (the seat cushions are denim!) for their second preseason game against the ‘Niners. We’ll have complete coverage and analysis before, during, and after the game right here at Predominantly Orange.
Saturday August 23rd – Houston Texans @ Denver Broncos (7:00pm MDT)
The Texans, with new head coach Bill O’Brien and #1 overall draft pick Jadeveon Clowney ,will be in town for the third week of the preseason for a couple of joint practices at Dove Valley before squaring off against the Broncos in the third preseason game. Game three is usually considered the “dress rehearsal” for NFL teams so you can expect to see the majority of the starters play into the second half.
Tuesday August 26th – Initial Roster Cuts to 75
The first set of pink slips gets handed out by 4:00pm EDT (2:00pm MDT) on this day, and while some of us will be standing in line at some big-box store waiting for this year’s version of the Madden video game franchise, the careers of 15 or so Broncos we’ve come to know over the last month or so will be ending. Some will catch on with another team, some may end up back on the practice squad, but for others, playing Madden alongside us will be as close as they ever get to the NFL again.
Thursday August 28th – Denver Broncos @ Dallas Cowboys (6:00pm MDT)
The Broncos travel to Jerry’s World for the final preseason game in what will be a homecoming for DeMarcus Ware. The proven commodities (like Ware) will see little, if any, playing time but it is the final chance for the 30 or so guys on the bubble to make their case for a roster spot. Jerry Jones will certainly say something stupid about Ware during the week leading up to the game.
Saturday August 30th – Final Roster Cuts to 53
The official roster must be completed by 4:00pm EDT this day, and another 22 players will be told to clean out their lockers (I’m talking to you, Tony Carter). Most of the eight-man practice squad will come from these cuts and others will catch on with different teams right away. Depth charts for Week 1 will be finalized.
Sunday August 31st – Initial Waiver Claims & Practice Squad
The first waiver claims for any player that was cut in the final roster cuts must be submitted by12:00pm EDT. The initial waiver order is set in inverse order of last season’s record, much like the draft order (Broncos are 31st). Any player who clears waivers can be signed to the team’s eight-man practice squad after the 12:00pm waiver deadline.
Requirements for practice squad players are not having more than three seasons in the league or an accrued season of free-agency along with having been on the active gameday roster for no more than nine games in any accrued season. The maximum amount of seasons any player is allowed on the practice squad is three.
Tuesday September 2nd – Injured Reserve (Designated for Return)
Teams may place one player on the “Injured Reserve – Designated for Return” list after 4:00pm
Goddell Eastern time. A new rule in 2012, this allows teams to tuck away an injured player with the ability for them to return after Week 8. This player must have been on the final 53 man roster and cannot practice until after Week 6.
Wednesday September 3rd – Salary Cap Deadline
By 4:00pm EDT all teams must have all active and practice squad player contracts below the 2014 NFL salary cap of $133 million.
Sunday September 7th – Indianapolis Colts @ Denver Broncos (6:30pm MDT)
The Broncos kickoff the 2014 campaign hoping to avenge their first regular season loss of a year ago at the hands of Peyton Manning’s former team. Colts’ owner Jim Irsay will be in LoDo at a bar somewhere, but Andrew Luck and company will provide the Broncos a good early test as they get the season started. Indianapolis is on the short list of AFC contenders alongside the Broncos.
Tuesday September 23rd – Waiver Order Resets
After Week 3 of the regular season the waiver order resets to the inverse order of the standings in an effort to maintain competitive balance among the league in season. This is also known as the only time the Oakland Raiders will be among the league leaders.
Tuesday October 14th – PUP Return
No, Fido isn’t coming back (he hopped the fence and eloped with that little terrier from down the street). After Week 6 players who were placed on the “Physically Unable to Perform” (PUP) list are eligible to return.
Tuesday October 28th – Trade Deadline
All trades for the NFL season must be submitted to the league office in New York City by 4:00pm EST. The Raiders will trade a first round draft pick for someone who will be out of the league in a year.
Sunday December 28th – Oakland Raiders @ Denver Broncos (2:25 MST)
The 2014 regular season concludes for the Broncos in Denver against their most hated rival. If all goes well we’ll be seeing a lot of Brock Osweiler on this day as the team prepares for the playoffs.
Saturday/Sunday January 3rd – 4th
Wild Card Weekend pares the post-season field from 12 to eight teams.
Saturday/Sunday January 10th – 11th
Divisional Playoff Weekend gives us our NFL final four.
Sunday January 18th
Conference Championship Weekend will send two teams to Arizona for Super Bowl XLIV.
Saturday January 24 – Senior Bowl
The NFL draft season unoffically kicks off at the 2015 Collegiate Senior Bowl at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Alabama.
Sunday January 25 – Pro Bowl
TheAFC-NFC Pro Bowl makes another appearance on the mainland at the site of the impending Super Bowl, University of Phoenix Stadium inGlendale, Arizona.
Sunday February 1 – Super Bowl XLIX
The greatest sporting event on planet Earth gives us it’s 49th edition from Univeristy of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.