NFL training camp is officially underway which means the season we’ve all been waiting for is right around the corner. Training camp is usually the first glimpse of the talent that we will see all season, but of course this year it is run a bit different. Covid-19 has essentially changed the way events are taking place, and major league sports are no exception. The question on everyone’s mind is “can the NFL get through training camp and the 2020 season with no Covid outbreaks?”
Training camp has been run unlike any other camp this year with many new Covid-19 protocols in place. An event that is usually open to the public has been closed off due to the pandemic and even the length of the camp has changed. The NFL is hopeful to start the regular season on time, but that is due in part to a modified training camp schedule. Although the dates that players report have not changed, the athletes will be following periods of Covid-19 testing and acclimation so players can begin the full contact workouts in mid-August. The acclimation period is longer than usual to protect the players who have had limited to no contact practices since the start of the pandemic. The idea is to ease them in slowly over the span of 2 weeks and work their way up to full contact football. This precaution is of course paired with everyday testing for 2 weeks as well to ensure the players and staff’s safety.
To keep the NFL timeline for the season opener of the regular season on track, they decided to eliminate the preseason all together. The 32 teams will go straight from training camp to week 1 regular season football in early September with the Chiefs facing off against the Texans on Thursday September 10th. Because these two teams get a jump start to the season rather than playing their first game on the following Sunday like the rest of the league, the Chiefs and Texans began their camp and protocols 3 days earlier. The rest of the teams brought their rookies to camp on July 21, the quarterbacks and injured players on July 23, their veteran players on July 28 and are beginning full contact practices on Aug 17. The following schedule shows how they are to run training camp this season.
July 28-31: Covid-19 testing and virtual meetings
Aug 1-2 :Physicals and equipment distribution
Aug 3-11: Acclimation period
Aug 12-16: Gradual ramp-up period
Aug 17- Sept 6: Contact integration period (practice)
What many to consider “true training camp” would be what is starting on August 17. It was also announced in early June that training camps would be in each team’s home stadium to avoid the need for teams to travel. We are expecting the NFL to follow suit with the NHL, MLB and NBA with a fanless season as we make our way towards September, but hope that this can change throughout the season.
Although this season may look different, we are all so happy to have the opportunity to watch our favorite team play this fall. The NFL is doing everything they can keep the season on track and allow the players to play. The new protocols are put in place to keep everyone safe and we hope to see success throughout the season. Whether the season remains fanless or not, we will still be cheering on our teams. And as always Go Bills!