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Training Camp gets green light from the NFL

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Protocols still need to be agreed upon, but doors will open to players on July 28.

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Oakland Raiders v Denver Broncos Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Good morning, Broncos Country!

If this 2020 season were a single football game, we would have just finished the coin toss, and the winning team was “start the football season.”

Because yesterday in a virtual meeting with NFL owners, the league decided that teams could begin training camp as scheduled July 28, with rookies and selected players allowed to report earlier.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said afterward that the league’s focus is to “get ready for games at our stadiums and to engage our fans both in stadiums and through our media partners.”

But exactly how that is going to go down is yet to be determined.

The NFL released guidelines for re-opening and players returning to their team facilities, but the NFLPA still must agree to those.

Among the protocols being discussed:

Each team is required to certify it has met the cleaning and protective guidelines and submit a copy of its infections disease plan.

All players and staff must wear masks at all times in the facility (unless a mask cannot be worn due to interference with the performance of athletic activities). Surgical masks must be replaced daily or more frequently if visibly soiled. Cloth masks must be laundered daily or staff and players must be provided with a sufficient supply of cloth masks so that they may rotate masks every three days. Teams are responsible for obtaining an adequate supply of surgical and cloth masks for players.

Teams must restrict areas used by players and staffs, including practice and stadium playing fields and sidelines, locker rooms, athletic training rooms and medical exam areas, player meal and meeting rooms, player lounge areas and weight rooms.

Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, admitted that those protocols are still being hammered out as officials continue monitoring how the coronavirus is evolving in different states around the country.

The NFL will impose a “very ambitious testing program,” according to Sills, but in order to have a football season, it’s going to require more than that.

“Testing alone will not be sufficient to keep everyone healthy,” he said. “It’s vitally important to keep social distances and use masks when possible.”

NFL owners also voted in favor of tarping off the first several rows of stadium seats near the field to provide more distance between players, people on the sideline and fans, Ian Rapoport reported. That space will be available for teams to sell for ads.

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