Riggo’s Rag Redskins Mailbag: Potential surprises, position battles, more
Neal Poffenberger: What kind of safety mandates will be implemented for training camp? Can players opt out of training camp due to COVID-19?
JC: Undoubtedly the league will have safety mandates implemented for training camp. What those will look like are uncertain at the moment. The NFL and NFLPA are still ironing out some of the details but soon, the exact planned protocols should be known.
If I had to guess, I would assume that most meetings would be held virtually during camp, as they were during the offseason. That will be one way to help limit the number of people in the building at any one time. Additionally, coaches could try to spread out drills at different times throughout the day so the field won’t get overly crowded. That will make social distancing easier, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see more individual sessions for each position group, at least in the early stages of camp.
Elsewhere, the league will have to decide on some sort of mass testing protocol. That’s probably one of the big sticking points in any talks with the players’ union. Another option is only allowing teams to carry a 75 or 80-man roster in 2020 as opposed to a 90-man unit. That would help to limit the number of people at the facility and potential exposure opportunities, but understandably, players won’t like the idea of roster candidates being cut before camp even starts.
As for players opting out of training camp, the preseason, or the season, the league will probably give players the option to make that decision. However, given that the NFL is a “next man up” league, it’s hard to imagine that too many players will take that route, especially if they’re on the roster bubble. But some certainly will if they are worried about their health or the health of their families.
Thanks as always for all of your questions! Be sure to stay tuned for future Riggo’s Rag Mailbags as we’ll be running them throughout the leadup to the NFL season and the season itself.