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Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Roadblocks remain with NFL training camps set to begin

Jul 17, 2020 at 8:34 AM

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San Francisco 49ers rookies are scheduled to report to the team on Tuesday. The rest of the players are slated to arrive a week later.


That's if things go as planned. There are still some details on how the league intends to deal with any issues arising due to the coronavirus pandemic that requires clearing up before players are comfortable reporting.

Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt insists that the players want to play, but laid out the items still in the way of that happening. The players still need answers, which the NFL may not have yet.

Again, there are players scheduled to report next week.

Below are some things that Watt has learned after taking part in four NFL Players Association (NFLPA) calls in the past two weeks.

  • Players want to be as safe as possible.
  • Players have not received a single valid IDER plan (Infections Disease Emergency Response) from any team or the league.
  • Players don't know if there will be preseason games or not.
  • Players don't know if there will be daily or semi-daily testing for COVID-19.
  • Players don't know how a potential positive test would affect contracts, roster spots, etc.
  • Nothing has been agreed upon regarding what training camp will look like and how the "ramp up" period will work.

That's a lot of unknowns for a league set to kick things into gear in a matter of days.

Remember, these players have not had a proper offseason. All meetings have been conducted virtually using Zoom, and players have worked out on their own with no team-organized practices or training allowed.

We don't even know if 49ers players will be allowed in the team's facilities next week.

"I checked with both the Governor's office and with Santa Clara County, which has seen a dramatic uptick in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks," wrote Matt Barrows of The Athletic in a recent mailbag column. "The state says professional sports are able to resume subject to a review by their home counties. The county is currently reviewing the protocols the 49ers plan to use when training camp convenes even though ... not all protocols are agreed upon or in place."

It was reported by Pro Football Talk on Thursday that the NFL intends to alter the rules for injured reserve to accommodate any players who may test positive for COVID-19. There will be a separate classification for infected players. They will land on a new three-week variety of injured reserve while receiving their regular pay and opening a roster spot during that time.

"It's unclear what will happen if a player on the COVID-19 list can't return after three weeks, at which time he will be eligible to return to practice," writes Mike Florio. "He must be returned to the active roster within three weeks after that, or he will revert to IR (absent an injury settlement)."

Back to Barrows and the local media, fans probably won't receive the same level of in-depth reporting that they have become accustomed to from one of the best reporting groups in the league. COVID-19 is impacting that, as well.

Only 10 media members will be allowed on facility grounds during training camp, and that includes photographers and videographers. The rest will need to work remotely.

On days when a national media reporter or reporters, like those from NFL Network, are on hand, that will eat into the limit for the number of local reporters.

Barrows notes that he won't be able to watch every practice because there will be a rotation of reporters going into the facility.

"That'll be odd. I've watched all but a handful of summer practices since 2003. Matt Maiocco? He's done the same since 1917," joked Barrows about the NBC Sports Bay Area reporter who has, apparently, covered the team for 103 years.

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