Here’s the see-you-at-camp memo that went out earlier. Really, the remote chance there was on players coming back pre-July was discussion over rookies and new acquisitions coming in to take physicals and sign contracts.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) June 11, 2020
That’s off the table now. pic.twitter.com/7vw2WrBY44
Like much of America and the rest of the world, the NFL has been feeling its way through the process of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Every team in the league has had a “virtual” offseason as part of the effort to enhance the share price of Zoom. This has been especially challenging for teams with new coaching staffs, like the Redskins. The virtual off-season had been scheduled to end this Friday. Instead, it’s been extended for two weeks to June 26th.
The NFL has extended virtual offseason programs for teams through June 26, but no further.
Although team facilities have opened for key personnel, coaches and players rehabilitating injuries, healthy players have been barred from those complexes due to the coronavirus pandemic. The remote programs have taken the place of on-site work, and some teams already have announced they are shutting those down.
But on Thursday, the league said it will allow the virtual work for an additional 15 days.
A number of coaches have talked about reaching the limit of what can be accomplished in a virtual off-season, including Ron Rivera, who, in a media Q & A session this week, remarked,
Our guys have been great about it and the attendance that we have had on our Zoom meetings has been good, very, very good. I am very pleased with that.
It just feels like our guys are understanding of what it takes.The hard part too is we’re getting a little bit repetitive, a little redundant. It’s been almost to a point where we’re going to oversaturate these guys. We have to be careful with that.
For this reason, we may see teams making the decision not to continue the virtual off-season, either giving players a break or trying to change things up significantly.
Clubs have the option to extend their virtual offseason program for another two weeks, or discontinue after this week, which a bunch of teams are doing. The NFL and NFLPA continue to work together on remaining protocols to create a safe reopening for training camp.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) June 11, 2020
Sean McVay says the @RamsNFL wrapped up their virtual offseason today. They’re done.— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) June 11, 2020
There’s still an issue surrounding the start of training camp. While, officially, the NFL is sticking to its original (its only) published schedule, it is clear that nothing about this off-season, pre-season or regular season is written in stone. Roger Goodell has said that the league will be flexible and adapt to changing circumstances, and, while it is necessary to get agreement from the player’s association for many of the major changes (like the start and end dates of the off-season and training camp), it seems fair to say that a lot more change is likely in the coming weeks and months. Fans seem to be prepared for that.
Some have suggested that training camps should start early, in the middle of July, to allow for an “acclimation period” for the players to get back into shape. Others have suggested that pre-season games might be cancelled or the regular season start in October as an alternative to accomplishing the same goal. No decisions have been reached yet on these types of questions; the league and the player’s union are talking regularly, though any thoughts of in-person mini-camps in late June have officially been scrapped.
CLICK HERE to watch the full video of Ron Rivera’s media Q&A session this week
Coach Rivera seems to be fully prepared for the start of camp, whenever it happens.
The hardest part and the toughest part will be on the players coming back as far as their conditioning and preparation for training camp as far as preparation more so than the mental aspects of the game. That is the thing we will be concerned with when they come back.
Obviously, when we get back we will do some conditioning just to see where our guys are. From there, we will go with our approach. We are prepared in terms of getting all the scheduling done and all the itineraries in place. I have the practice scripts ready to go and have given them to our coordinators. Special teams, offense, defense, we will have everything in place and we will just adapt them to what happens.
There is a whole new set of protocols that the league is coming out with that we will have to follow, in fact we have a meeting this afternoon on it which I will be going over it with our support staff, personnel, trainers, video people, our equipment manager and my Director of Football Operations....
Players and coaches will see the field together for the first time in Training Camp, which, for the moment, is set to happen in late July. The situation is fluid, though. Coach Rivera said this week, “ We will go through those things, check those things and go through those boxes to see what we need to be ready for. We are still looking for guidance from the NFL and the NFLPA as we start preparing for this.”