With the NFL proposing a coronavirus protocol on which the NFL Players Association has yet to sign off and with which Ravens coach John Harbaugh believes is “human impossible” to comply, the league’s plans for football season in a pandemic remain unclear, to say the least. Eagles coach Doug Pederson made it clear on Tuesday that, whatever the rules, they’ll be keeping the full 90-man roster together during training camp.
“[W]e are going to keep everybody together, but we just might have to use the stadium and transition over there from time to time,” Pederson told reporters as to the possibility of using both the team facility and the team’s stadium during camp. “And these are all things that we are looking at. But we are going to keep everybody together. We’re going to socially distance when we are inside the buildings. We’re going to wear masks. We’re going to do all the protocols that we’ve been asked to do and we’re going to make that work.
Pederson’s explanation came after a prior answer regarding the possibility of using both locations to “handle the numbers that we have in training camp from a player perspective” created the impression that the team will divide the roster and practice in two different places.
And that’s not an unreasonable concept. Baseball (if there is baseball) plans to split up teams. Given the speed with which the virus could sweep through a football locker room, it would make sense to keep the first-stringers separate from the rest of the roster. Then, if half of the team has an outbreak, the other half would potentially (and hopefully) be OK.
This is just one of the possibilities that teams will have to consider as the NFL moves toward a season unlike any other. Pederson acknowledged on Tuesday that he is thinking about the possibility of quarantining a quarterback, like Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians may do.
“Obviously there are a lot of ways to go about things, and that’s one way to do it,” Pederson said. “If you do it with the quarterback position, do you do it with a receiver, do you do it with a defensive back, something like that? But these are all things that right now, between now and the time we play are really — or I should say the time we get back to training camp, are the scenarios that we need to as a staff think through and the possibilities. But that is definitely something to consider as you move forward to protect the quarterback position, but at the same time you have to think about the entire roster, as well. A lot of different scenarios and a lot of possibilities we’ll think about here in the next few weeks.”
Whatever the Eagles do, there is one guiding principle.
“I understand that this is a unique time in our society, in our country and our world,” Pederson said. “This is just what we’re faced with. . . . And the No. 1 thing here is making sure that our players and our coaches and all our staff are safe. That’s our most important aspect of everything right now.”
The only problem with this objective, honorable as it may be, is that any efforts to keep people safe necessarily will end at the edge of the practice or playing field, where bodies necessarily will be pressed together, and where it will be difficult if not impossible to confine droplets, saliva, sweat, and/or blood.
Eagles plan to keep roster together during training camp originally appeared on Pro Football Talk