NFL training camps opening with eye on baseball, babysitting
Brady and Brees aren’t the B words dominating the opening of NFL training camps.
Try baseball and babysitting.
As veterans report Tuesday for COVID-19 testing, with on-field work far on the horizon for now, eyeballs are focused on the pandemic issues in Major League Baseball. The coronavirus outbreak with the Miami Marlins, who won’t be playing any games the rest of this week, is foremost in the football world.
“You know, for what’s going on in baseball right now, it affects everyone,” Jets quarterback Sam Darnold said. “I mean, because you look at the game the Marlins had and, you know, they affect the players on the other team and then the dugouts are then infected. There’s no good way of really going about it. And you’ve got to start canceling games.
“So it’s just a matter of what the league wants to do. And, if people start getting or contracting the virus within the NFL, it’ll be interesting to see how the NFL wants to handle it.”
Titans coach Mike Vrabel said he is not using the word worried, but “obviously, (we’re) always very concerned about the health and safety of our players and their family and the coaches and our staff in this building. But until we see how our protocols and our plan that the NFL and the players association worked so hard to put into place, till we see how those are going to function and work, we can’t make any changes. We have to to follow the plan.”
Nobody knows if the plan will work, of course.
Falcons coach Dan Quinn said baseball players having positive tests led to the question of “How does travel affect that and the testing when you go on the road and when you don’t?”
Quinn said he was enjoying baseball’s return, “so I was disappointed to see the outbreak had affected games being played. So, it’s definitely something we all discuss for sure.”
What Broncos President Joe Ellis won’t be discussing is keeping tabs of where his players go and what they do. At least not yet.
“We can’t control what happens when they go home. We’re not going to babysit them and spy on them or anything like that,” he said. “They’re grownups. We’ll just ask them to conduct themselves appropriately to take care of themselves such as they’ll be taking care of the whole organization, their teammates specifically, and their coaches. And we’ve got some good guys on the team I think that can help get that message through to them.”
The biggest news from NFL teams Tuesday dealt with opt-outs. Any player who decides not to play this season will get a $150,000 stipend if it is a voluntary move, and $350,000 if it is for pre-existing medical reasons.
Opting out were several key members of the New England Patriots: linebacker Dont’a Hightower, a defensive leader; safety Patrick Chung; offensive tackle Marcus Cannon; running back Brandon Bolden; and fullback Dan Vitale, according to people familiar with the decisions who spoke on condition of anonymity because the moves have not been announced.
Defensive tackles Star Lotulelei of Buffalo and Kyle Peko of Denver, Eagles receiver Marquise Goodwin, Chiefs guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Vikings defensive tackle Michael Pierce, and Ravens kick returner De’Anthony Thomas also have opted out.
Running back Dalvin Cook arrived at Minnesota’s facility for coronavirus testing as scheduled with the rest of the team’s veterans, according to a person with knowledge of the situation, speaking on condition of anonymity because the team did not make the reporting process public.
Cook, who has begun the fourth and final year of his rookie contract with a base salary of slightly more than $1.3 million, is seeking a new deal. He backed out of the virtual offseason program last month after negotiations stalled.
Whether or not Cook will choose to take part in practice without a contract extension is unknown. With the first on-field workout not until Aug. 12, there’s time for the team and his camp to come to an agreement. Simply showing up on Tuesday was critical for Cook, regardless of what his feelings might be about how the front office is approaching his status and value. According to the new collective bargaining agreement, Cook would have been subject to a maximum $50,000 fine per daily absence and forfeited a season of accrual toward unrestricted free agency had he held out.
The Titans placed their top draft pick, offensive lineman Isaiah Wilson of Georgia, on the COVID-19/reserve list. Wilson remains the one member of their six-man draft class who hasn’t agreed to a contract. Linebacker Jayon Brown will start training camp on the physically unable to perform list.
San Francisco placed starting receiver Deebo Samuel on the non-football injury list after foot surgery and said he might miss the start of the season. Samuel suffered a fracture in his left foot last month during informal workouts with teammates in Tennessee and the timeline for his return remains unknown.
Samuel is being counted on to be a key part of the offense for the defending NFC champion 49ers. San Francisco lost receiver Emmanuel Sanders in free agency and was hoping Samuel could help fill that role in his second season in the NFL following a promising debut season.
Defensive lineman Ronald Blair, center Weston Richburg, defensive lineman Jullian Taylor, defensive lineman Kentavius Street and receiver Shawn Poindexter were all placed on the physically unable to perform list as they recover from knee injuries last season. Defensive back D.J. Reed was placed on the non-football injury list after suffering a torn pectoral during the offseason.
The Cowboys placed defensive tackle Dontari Poe and defensive end Tyrone Crawford on the physically unable to perform list. Both remain on the active roster.
Poe, who signed as a free agent, had surgery for a torn quadriceps muscle in November while with Carolina. Crawford, a starter the past six seasons in Dallas, has battled hip issues that limited him to four games last year.
Atlanta placed rookie safety Jaylinn Hawkins on the team’s reserve/COVID-19 list hours after coach Dan Quinn said all rookies had negative tests. Hawkins, a fourth-round pick from Cal, could have tested negative and placed on the list after exposure to the coronavirus. Teams are not allowed to disclose if a player is in quarantine.