NFL teams begin to partially reopen practice facilities
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NFL teams begin to partially reopen practice facilities

By Tommy Fradenburg

Contributing Writer for Telegraph Local | See @tommyfradenburg

As the world gradually prepares to return from its COVIOD-19 hiatus; some NFL teams have reopened their practice facilities under extreme restrictions.

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NFL commissioner Roger Goodell gave permission for teams to begin returning to work on Tuesday as long as they are complying with local government ordinances.

But with just three months before preseason play is scheduled to begin and some facilities still closed due to government orders; the question of where to go from here still lingers.

So far only eight teams have actually opened their doors; including the defending Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs and the Texas tandem of the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans.

We’ve spent the entire quarantine period preparing to reopen,” said the Indianapolis Colts, who are also returning Tuesday. “But it will be very gradual and deliberate. And of course we’re taking steps to make sure we’re in compliance with state and local regulations, and NFL and CDC guidelines.”

Even for teams reopening their doors, only a select few people can actually go through them. Under the current guidelines only players rehabbing injuries and their trainers are permitted to return.

“Everyone will need to wear gloves, masks, constant temperature checks, and everyone must maintain social distancing,” said head coach of the also-returning Washington Redskins Ron Rivera.

But that’s impossible for teams in California, New York, New Jersey, Washington, Illinois, Michigan and Massachusetts; where heavy government restrictions remain in place.

Other Restrictions

Here is a more comprehensive list of Goodell’s limitations.

  1. No more than half of the staff members, and no more than 75 total people are allowed to gather in a single location.
  2. In order to maintain equality for teams around the league, coaches aren’t allowed in team facilities.
  3. Members of the personnel, football operations/football administration staff, equipment staff, medical staff, and nutritionists are permitted to return.
  4. Clubs must promptly report any incident of COVID-19 in the facility to NFL Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sills and the club’s infection control officer.

Goodell did say he expects the return of coaches to the facilities to come sometime soon, and even suggested the possibility of players retuning sometime next month.

“This first phase of reopening is an important step in demonstrating our ability to operate safely and effectively, even in the current environment,’’ Goodell said.

Uncharted Waters

NFL facilities have been closed since March 25; and teams have had to adapt their offseason routine. With zoom meetings and virtual workouts comprising most of what teams can do; depth chart battles have yet to begin.

This is especially concerning for teams like the Chicago Bears and the Las Vegas Raiders; who are still waiting to learn who will start the season under center. But the reality is that the situation calls for caution and gradual steps back to normalcy; something Dr. Sills said is part of the NFL’s plan.

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“That protocol was developed with a lot of input from not only infectious disease and public health expects, but the CDC and others,” he said.

“I’ve used the phrase that we want to walk, then jog, then run as we talk about how we reopen our facilities.”

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