NFL expects training camps to open on time


The NFL has told teams they should plan for training camps to start on schedule in late July, league executive vice president/general counsel Jeff Pash told reporters Thursday.

Most teams are scheduled to report with their full rosters on July 28, although a few coaches have alluded to rookies and quarterbacks being allowed to report the week before.

Pash added that the preseason schedule might not proceed as planned, saying owners are in “active discussions” about the subject and that it could be shortened due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We expect to have some resolution relatively soon on that and will advise the clubs at that time,” he said.

The first preseason game, the Aug. 6 Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio, was canceled earlier Thursday. Each team has four scheduled preseason games at the moment.

Whether fans will be present at games — preseason or regular season — this fall remains to be seen, although commissioner Roger Goodell sounded optimistic on a conference call. He said the league is planning to “get ready for games at our stadiums and to engage our fans both in stadiums and through our media partners.”

A report by The Athletic earlier this week said the NFL would not require uniform rules regarding attendance restrictions across the league. That could mean that teams in states with relaxed rules would have greater home-field advantage than teams in states with heavier restrictions.

NFL owners did approve a proposal Thursday to tarp off the first few rows of seats at games and cover them with sponsor advertising.

The league’s chief medical officer, Dr. Allen Sills, also spoke with reporters via conference call Thursday, saying the NFL and NFL Players Association are working on final details for “a very ambitious (coronavirus) testing program” focused on keeping players, coaches and staff safe.

Sills was also asked about NFL players who have flaunted the NFLPA’s recommendation to avoid gathering for group workouts, particularly Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady. He declined to reference Brady specifically but said the league supports the NFLPA’s recommendation.

“The NFLPA and the NFL are in the same exact place, which is we want whatever makes the safest possible environment for all of our constituents, whether they be players, coaches, trainers, medical staff (or) anyone in that team environment,” Sills said.