As the NFL continues to prepare for training camps amid COVID-19, news on how the league will operate once players return emerges frequently. Here is the latest on the virus-NFL front:
- A four-week preseason slate looks like the less realistic scenario, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com notes (video link). The NFL-NFLPA talks have not progressed to the point the early portion of the preseason can be ruled out, but signs are pointing in that direction. In addition to gaining some time to further prepare for playing games during the pandemic, the NFL canceling part of the preseason may be vital for conditioning. A multi-week acclimation period would push full-on contact work into mid-August, thus delaying teams’ game action. Players are pushing for the ramp-up period, Garafolo adds (video link). This would stand to better protect them against injuries that would arise from being thrust into team action after a virtual offseason.
- NFLPA president J.C. Tretter sent a letter to players underlining some of the risks they will take by playing this season. Among the bullet points: the Browns center warns of the players who could be at higher risk of developing severe complications if they were to contract the virus — those with asthma, those at higher weights, etc. Additionally, players want multiple companies to perform different kinds of testing — due to state testing regulations varying. This represents one of the many issues the NFL and NFLPA are discussing before players return to team facilities. Players are scheduled for a conference call Thursday.
- Two-plus months before the regular season is scheduled to begin, teams are already making travel adjustments. Multiple teams plan to take the unusual step of traveling on game days, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports. This does not indicate whether these plans will be in place throughout the season, with it being impractical for teams to make lengthy trips on game mornings. But teams even preparing to make day-of flights, to avoid hotel stays, is notable. Early returns do not point to players being on board (all Twitter links).
- The Cardinals have some new hurdles to clear to host training camp. In light of coronavirus cases hitting record highs in Arizona — one of several states in which this is the case — Gov. Doug Ducey banned gatherings of 50 or more people. Ducey added that this policy is unlikely to affect sports — despite NFL training camps obviously housing far more than 50 people — but said attendance will be impacted (Twitter link via the Arizona Repulic’s Katherine Fitzgerald). Arizona was one of the first states to reopen and announce sports could return.