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NFL prime time games will start a bit earlier

The Patriots and Dolphins played on “Monday Night Football” last season.barry chin/globe staff file

Prime-time NFL games in 2018 will still end after most East Coasters go to bed, but fans will be able to watch a few extra plays this fall.

The NFL is moving up the start times of games on Thursday, Sunday, and Monday nights, according to a league source.

The most significant change will be for “Monday Night Football,” which will now kick off at 8:15 p.m. instead of 8:30. “Sunday Night Football” will start at 8:20 (instead of 8:30), and “Thursday Night Football” will also start at 8:20 (up from 8:25).

The move comes as part of the NFL’s initiative to speed up the game and retain viewers. Last season, the league instituted new rules to streamline the instant-replay process and remove a handful of commercial breaks from broadcasts.


The NFL will reveal its full 2018 schedule Thursday at 8 p.m. The Patriots are likely to have the maximum five prime-time games.

Patriots tab finalists

Former teammates Matt Light, Richard Seymour, and Mike Vrabel were selected as finalists for this year’s induction into the Patriots’ Hall of Fame, the team announced.

Light, a three-time Pro Bowl selection at offensive tackle, is a first-time finalist. Seymour, who earned first-team All-Pro honors from 2003-05 as a defensive lineman, is a finalist for the second straight year, and Vrabel, who as a linebacker also made 10 receptions (all for touchdowns) in his Patriots career, is up for the honor for the third straight year.

Fans can vote for their choice at www.patriots.com through May 14. The winner will be announced later that week.

Moving on

Record-setting return specialist Devin Hester and running back Matt Forte will sign one-day contracts with the Bears and retire as members of the organization where they starred. Hester holds the NFL record with 20 kick return touchdowns in 11 years with Chicago, Atlanta, and Baltimore . . . Running back Fred Jackson signed a one-day contract with the Bills and retired.


Ben Volin of the Globe staff contributed to this report. He can be reached at ben.volin
. Follow him on Twitter @BenVolin