As training camps and the (shortened?) preseason approaches, quite a bit of NFL coverage has turned to logistics and questions asking “how are we really going to do this?” At the broad level we have league-wide operations and how games can be played with or without fans, how the scheduling will work, travel, and so on, but then there are the micro-level decisions as well. Players and staffs have individual health concerns. Teams may have to deal with localized issues including laws or policies idiosyncratic to their state or local area.
However, even the latest reports coming from NFL insiders provided little clarity on key issues this week. As The Athletic’s Chris Burke pointed out, there is not a lot of time considering how many decisions remain unsettled.
While the expectation for weeks has been the NFL goes to two preseason games, the NFLPA hasn’t signed off. and some in union leadership continue to question whether it’s smart to play ANY preseason games, sources tell me and @TomPelissero. Board of reps call Thursday. Stay tuned.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) July 1, 2020
On Thursday, ESPN’s Dan Graziano reported on a conference call held by the players’ union to discuss how players will live and work during training camp, and what kinds of restrictions there may be outside of team activities. From what Graziano posted, it seems like much of what was communicated did not go over well with the player representatives:
NFLPA held a 2-hour call today for player reps. Lots of info re: season plans. Players could face fines for conduct detrimental if they're found to have spread COVID by engaging in "reckless" behavior away from the facility, such as eating out at restaurants or riding in Ubers.— Dan Graziano (@DanGrazianoESPN) July 3, 2020
Sources said there is definitely some sentiment among players of, "Why are we playing at all if it's this unsafe?" A ton of questions still have to be answered before they feel good about playing. There's another NFLPA call scheduled for Friday for all players, not just reps.— Dan Graziano (@DanGrazianoESPN) July 3, 2020
Michael Rothstein, who covers the Lions for ESPN, had a Twitter thread with several thoughts on team depth dealing with list status codes and practice squad rules. He has some good points on how the timing built into existing rules were not really made to deal with simultaneous mass changes in eligibility status affecting a single roster (such as an entire unit getting sick):
Here are questions I’ve had if there’s a season. Expanded p-squads are great, but would teams be required to waive players if they need to activate due to COVID? What happens then if starters (like say your QB and OL) are out. How would that work? Will there be a COVID IR? https://t.co/BZo9qyopo7— Michael Rothstein (@mikerothstein) July 2, 2020
Less time during the offseason to evaluate and develop players has undoubtedly already affected every team in the league, but there is no way to know by how much. Cohesion among players and coaches, administrative and organizational relationships, and even players simply getting a shot to get a contract may all have taken a hit:
Some recent Lions examples of UDFAs who used that time to earn roster spots: C.J. Moore, Zach Zenner, Kevin Strong, Joseph Fauria, Tion Green, Brandon Powell. https://t.co/8AtkIwBLuj— Michael Rothstein (@mikerothstein) July 1, 2020
Heading into July and what seems like rising levels of risk in many parts of the country, it will be interesting to see how the league addresses player concerns before rookies must start reporting over the next three weeks (Detroit rookies report on July 19, veterans on July 26).
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.
And now, on to the rest of today’s holiday weekend Notes:
- lolwut (hat tip to @chrisburkeNFL):
- Jeff Risdon at Lions Wire re-watched the Lions game in Week 9 against the Raiders from last season and wrote a detailed blow-by-blow summary of it. Big ups to him for doing this with games I could not even get motivated to watch during the season while they were actually happening.
- Speaking of the 2019 season, James Light had a nice Xs and Os look back at the last-gasp play of the road win at Philadelphia. On 4th-and-15, Rashaan Melvin broke up a deep middle throw by Carson Wentz to seal the deal. Here’s the coverage:
That's what Belichick/Patricia call it. Each bracket name is based on the alignment of the receiver (#1, #2, #3 etc) and what the leverage is of the low defender in the bracket. https://t.co/cX4dn6dQhu— James Light (@JamesALight) July 3, 2020
- Here are some Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. facts about how good they were in 2019 from Pro Football Focus:
Most 25+ yard TD receptions in 2019:— PFF (@PFF) July 1, 2020
▫️ Kenny Golladay - 5
▫️ Mecole Hardman - 5
▫️ Darius Slayton - 5 pic.twitter.com/M6I3lUTdJ1