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With the NFL’s COVID testing protocols, it’ll be a while before players get together on the field

Washington Redskins Training Camp Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Rookies are scheduled to arrive at Ashburn soon, with veterans following on Thursday this week and Tuesday next week, but none of the players will be rushing out onto the field or into classrooms with the coaches.

The NFL COVID testing protocols will see each player tested on arrival and not allowed to enter the team facility right away. In fact, the player will have to be tested a second time on Day 4, and will need to have two negative results (indicating no virus) before he can join the rest of the team and coaches.

With the last group of players arriving on Tuesday the 28th (Day 1 for those players), the soonest that the entire team will be able to gather together would be on Saturday, August 1st, which would mark Day 5 for the last group of reporting players.

So, what will players do between their initial COVID test and the second test on Day 4?

According to Tom Pelissero, players will spend the down time between the initial COVID tests studying their playbooks and participating in meetings from a remote location. Once players are allowed into the facility, they will begin with a five-day “on-boarding process”, and when that is complete, players will enter the strength and conditioning program to prepare for the rigors of camp and (hopefully) the regular season.

Although it seems as if there will be no preseason games this year, early results from other professional sports provide some hope that the NFL will be able to play the regular season if its disease mitigation protocols are sufficiently rigorous. The NBA announced today that it has had zero positive results in its COVID testing.

The NHL and Major League Baseball have reported a combined total of 7 positive tests. The NFL, which plans for players to continue living with their families during the season, and which is engaged in a much more physical contact sport than baseball, basketball and hockey, faces, perhaps, greater challenges in controlling the spread of the coronavirus among its players and coaches. Still, the regular season isn’t scheduled to kick off until Thursday, 10 September. The league and players’ union have a month and a half to figure a lot of things out.