As some head coaches return to their team facilities, the NFL is reportedly engaged in discussions on how training camp and the preseason will unfold during the COVID-19 pandemic.
NFL talking to NFLPA about changing the training camp and preseason schedules
While the NFL allowed coaches to return to their team’s complex this past week, the league is still without a firm date for players to return. It’s expected that players won’t be allowed to report to their teams until training camp, but even that hasn’t been determined.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the new collective bargaining agreement made changes to create more uniform reporting dates for teams. 27 NFL teams would report 47 days before their regular-season opener, while teams playing the first Monday Night Football games report 48 days before.
However, those target dates have now come into question due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The NFL was forced to cancel voluntary workouts and minicamps, which eliminated valuable practice reps and in-person training for players. As a result, there is an ongoing discussion between the NFL and NFLPA about when players can report.
NFL considers canceling early preseason games
Due to the lost practices, the league is looking into ways to make up for the lost time. Among the possibilities, eliminating preseason games in the early part of the 2020 schedule.
The move wouldn’t only eliminate the Hall of Fame game between the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers on Aug. 8. It could also wipe out, or potentially push back, the entire first week of preseason action.
Notably, canceling one game from each team’s preseason schedule could be a test to see if the NFL could move forward with a three-game preseason schedule when it expands the regular season in the future.
When do NFL players report for training camp?
According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the NFL hasn’t yet picked a specific date for players to return. However, the league has discussed bringing rookies and veterans who have changed teams back earlier. By doing so, it would give them more time to undergo physicals, receive testing and learn a new system.
The NFL could start training camp in the middle of July to create additional practices for players. However, it would need to receive approval from the NFLPA before that plan could be implemented.
Fortunately, everyone around the league still expects there to be a 2020 NFL season and it will likely start on time. Players and coaches might just have to adjust to far more difficult circumstances than they are used to.