Even though the NFL has plans to shorten the preseason from four games to two due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the NFLPA has weighed in by voting to eliminate the practice games altogether. The league still plans to open training camps on July 28, and they plan to kickoff the regular season on September 10, but the preseason slate is still in limbo.
NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo says that the NFL likes the two game preseason in order for teams to get a bead on where their rosters stand before week one, but the players wonder if it’s worth the risk to play in meaningless games.
“The players I’m told are expressing a number of concerns on this call,” Garafolo said. “Not the least of which, is if there’s so much concern about this virus right now, why are we returning to work, period? And I was told that one of the medical experts said that is something you’re going to have to decide on an individual basis. Basically, are some players going to opt out based on risk factors and just how they’re feeling about themselves and their family? So that is something to watch going forward.”
We’ve already seen some NBA and MLB players opt out of their seasons, and as we get closer to camp, we’re sure to see some NFL players express reservations on playing themselves.
The entire situation is still fluid as the league and players try to figure out the best way to prepare for the 2020 season. The standard 90-man offseason rosters are in question, and the format for practice squads in terms of size and veteran status is also up in the air.
The NFL and the NFLPA have been talking with medical experts for months now, says the NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, and he also has one possible camp schedule that has been discussed by the players’ union.
With the NFLPA still opposed to preseason games, one possible camp schedule the union has discussed:— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 3, 2020
3 days: medical/equipment
21 days: strength & conditioning
10 days: unpadded practice
14 days: practice (10 max/8 padded)
Then it’d be straight into Week 1.
The above schedule would see the players work out in smaller groups for strength and conditioning before coming together with up to 40 players for unpadded practices. This scenario would also leave no room for preseason games.
The NFL does have a plan in place in case someone comes into contact with the virus.
The NFL last night sent to clubs COVID-19 protocols for 2020 training camp and preseason, including this detailed breakdown for handling individuals exposed to someone who tested positive: pic.twitter.com/bX7aQzMZTZ— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 4, 2020
We’ll be sure to pass along the information once there’s a concrete plan in place for the preseason and training camps.