NFL teams are increasingly wary of using star players in preseason games due to the risk of an injury that can derail regular-season plans. It used to be that the third preseason game was the “dress rehearsal.” Teams would play starters for a full half or close to it. That isn’t always the case anymore. In fact, five starting quarterbacks didn’t throw a single pass in the 2019 preseason. Here they are.
Jared Goff, Rams
Jared Goff sitting out the entire preseason isn’t a surprise because Rams head coach Sean McVay leads the team plan to not play starters in the preseason. This is the second straight exhibition season where McVay had his entire first-team offense sit for all four games. It didn’t seem to hurt the squad last season. The Rams went 13-3 and won the NFC West en route to a Super Bowl appearance.
Philip Rivers, Chargers
The other Los Angeles team followed the Rams’ lead this preseason and sat Philip Rivers for all four games. The QB doesn’t have much to gain from playing in the meaningless August games. The 37-year-old veteran has been in the league for 15 seasons. He’s experienced enough that he doesn’t need the extra preseason practice — especially since his main offensive players are all returning from last year so he is familiar with them.
Aaron Rodgers, Packers
You could put an asterisk on Aaron Rodgers’ name on this list. The Packers played a “road” game against the Raiders in Winnipeg, Canada. Green Bay was slated to play some starters in the game, but there were issues with the condition of the field. This led new Packers head coach Matt LaFleur to sit Rodgers and 32 other players for fear of the field leading to a higher risk of injuries. Rodgers may not have played anyway, as he was listed as questionable with a sore back.
Mitchell Trubisky, Bears
The Bears’ third-year starter started the team’s first preseason game against the Panthers, but his night was done after handing the ball off to RB Mike Davis three times on their first offensive series. Mitchell Trubisky did not attempt a pass in that game or any of the Bears’ other preseason games.
Trubisky has started not started a full 16 games in either of his first two regular NFL seasons, so head coach Matt Nagy may want Trubisky’s arm to potentially play his first full 16-game season. With the Bears’ strong defense, Trubisky shouldn’t be involved with many shootouts this season and likely won’t need to play well enough to put up 40 points a game.
Carson Wentz, Eagles
Carson Wentz has missed significant time in the last two seasons due to injury, so the Eagles held him out of preseason to protect him. Keeping Wentz healthy is even more important for the Eagles this season. They moved on from backup QB Nick Foles — the Super Bowl LII MVP in Wentz’s absence — who signed a four-year, $88 million contract with the Jaguars in free agency.
With Foles now in Florida, veteran QB Josh McCown sits behind Wentz on the Eagles’ depth chart. The 40-year-old journeyman announced his retirement in June, before reversing course and signing with the Eagles after the team lost backup QBs to injury in consecutive weeks.