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Bucs add Colts to 2021 slate as NFL owners approve 17th regular-season game

As a result of the extended regular season, the preseason is reduced to three contests.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell formally announced the addition of a 17th regular season game, effective in 2021. This is the league's first extension of the regular season since 1978.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell formally announced the addition of a 17th regular season game, effective in 2021. This is the league's first extension of the regular season since 1978. [ CHARLIE RIEDEL ]
Published Mar. 30, 2021|Updated Mar. 30, 2021

As widely expected, NFL owners have approved adding a 17th game to the regular season, meaning the reigning world champion Bucs get an extra road game — at Indianapolis — in 2021.

The vote was done Tuesday at the annual league meetings, which are being held virtually. As a result of the extended regular season, the preseason is being reduced from four to three contests.

And Super Bowl 56, set for Los Angeles, will be played on Feb. 13.

“I like the three (preseason games),” Bucs coach Bruce Arians said Tuesday, shortly before the NFL’s formal announcement.

“The fourth one was usually all guys that were just trying to make that final cut, and you weren’t playing anybody that was injury risk of playing in your first two ball games. So I think it still gives the guys plenty of time to get on tape for you and for other teams, to see and show what they have.”

Additionally, all 32 teams will play at least one international game once every eight years. The NFL is expected to release its full 2021 schedule, complete with dates and tentative kickoff times, in May.

The extended regular season is the NFL’s first since 1978, when it increased from 14 to 16 games. A scheduling formula was employed to determine each team’s extra non-conference opponent.

“This is a monumental moment in NFL history,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement.

“The (collective bargaining agreement) with the players and the recently-completed media agreements provide the foundation for us to enhance the quality of the NFL experience for our fans. And one of the benefits of each team playing 17 regular-season games is the ability for us to continue to grow our game around the world.”

Related: Bucs receiver Mike Evans awarded key to the city by his Texas hometown

Arians indicated an additional regular-season game likely won’t require the Bucs to modify their training-camp approach.

“We limit the number of snaps we get once we get into preseason games,” he said.

“But I think depending on your open date, now if you have an early open date on a 17-game schedule, that’s going to be a grind in December. Last year I didn’t like having a Week 13 one, but I’d probably rather have a Week 10-13 open date with a 17-game schedule.”

Contact Joey Knight at jknight@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.

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