The NFL recently released dates for the league year. Here are some upcoming key dates for the 2012 season. -

Aug. 24 — Patriots at Buccaneers preseason game

Aug. 29 — Patriots at Giants preseason game

August 27 — Roster cutdown to 75 by 4 p.m. ET

August 31 — Roster cutdown to 53 by 9 p.m. ET

Sept. 1 — Practice squad (maximum of 8 players) can be formed at noon ET

Oct. 16 — First day players on PUP/NFI lists can start practicing

Oct. 16 — Trading deadline at 4 p.m. ET

Notes:

- Looking ahead to Friday’s pre-season game against the Buccaneers, Greg Schiano, former Rutgers head coach and first-year Tampa Bay head coach, will face off with friend Bill Belichick. Every year Belichick seems to do joint practices with another team. It will be interesting to see how the two coaches run the two joint practices leading up to the game.

- The final game of the preseason, is really no surprise. This is the eighth straight year the Patriots and Giants have met in the preseason.

- Just a random thought. Last year the NFL lockout was looming, most certainly a stressful time for the league and the fans. It was refreshing to not only focus on the team’s off-season activities, but also not have to worry if we will be able to watch league action on Sunday’s this season. Something many people had to deal with just one year ago.

- With so many talented players on the Patriots roster so far, it will be even more difficult than usual for the coaching staff to trim the roster down on Aug. 27 (75 players) and then to the final 53-man squad four days later on Aug. 31. For my latest roster prediction, click here.

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