For the first time in league history, the two teams from the previous Super Bowl will play in the Thursday night season opener. However, GM Dave Gettleman said on PFT Live that he would prefer if the Carolina Panthers played on Sunday of Week 1.
“To me, playing in the opening game, on that Thursday night, is a little bit of a competitive disadvantage to those teams, compared to the other 30, because of the way the 53 cut is set up. You’ve got to have a practice and you don’t have your practice squad players,” Gettleman said. “It’s kind of a competitive disadvantage. We’ve got to play them at some point and I’m sure that when the ball’s teed up we’ll both be ready to go.”
There is certainly some validity to the Panthers' GM statement. Last year, NFL teams had to cut their roster down to 53 men on September 5th and on September 6th were able to establish their practice squad. However, the first Thursday night game took place only four days later on September 10th.
The Panthers, along with the Denver Broncos, already had the shortest offseason of all the NFL teams before the schedules were released because of the fact that they had played in the Super Bowl. The Panthers' coaching staff tried to combat the shorter offseason by moving their workouts back to as late as possible to give the players as much rest as possible.
Both teams saw their offseason then cut even more when the schedule was released and it was announced they would open the 2016 season against each other on Thursday, September 8th.