Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert may have a long and successful NFL career without ever playing a single snap in the preseason.
When Herbert was a rookie in 2020, there was no preseason because the COVID-19 pandemic canceled it. By 2021, Herbert was coming off a stellar rookie year and Chargers coach Brandon Staley said there was no reason to risk an injury in the preseason. And in 2022, Staley says that’s still his approach to the preseason.
“I think that it will be similar philosophically as last year,” Staley said of his decision to sideline his best players in the preseason. “If we know who you are, and we’ve, from an evaluation standpoint, we don’t need to evaluate you, then you’re probably not going to play in the preseason, but if there’s — whether it’s a role or whether it’s a young player that we feel like those experiences are going to benefit them, then that’s the direction that we’re going to go.”
That approach has spread across the league, to such an extent that in the future, many of the NFL’s greatest players will never play a preseason game. Herbert is leading the way.