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By Joe Kazmar
For the Record 

Is NFL's cancellation of preseason games good or bad?

 

Last updated 8/3/2020 at 3:18pm



National Football League players reported to their respective training camps the past few days and now must adhere to the restrictions and concerns created by the COVID-19 pandemic before they are allowed to prepare for the 2020 season.

First, the players face a five-day period that will determine who will advance to the second phase which includes admittance into the team’s training facility, according to last week’s edition of the New Jersey Record.

All players must produce two negative PCR tests for COVID-19 results over the first four days in a schedule that includes test of Day 1, quarantine at home on Days 2 and 3 and a second test on Day 4.

The article stated that on Day 5, if both tests were negative, the player will begin daily testing and can enter the facility.

Daily testing will continue for two weeks and would then move to every other day if the positive rate is below 5%.

The second phase that begins on Day 5 includes physicals and equipment fittings. If an asymptomatic player tests positive, he must leave camp and not be allowed to return to the facility for 10 days. If he continues to be asymptomatic, he can return to camp after two negative tests within a five-day period.

When football activities finally begin, the non-contact organized team activities have been superseded with traditional camp practices that feature pads and limited contact.

A two-week acclimation period will include eight days of strength and conditioning and the first padded practice of training camp can’t happen before Aug. 17 following five days of sessions with just helmets.

There is a maximum of 14 padded practices before the start of the regular season, so consequently there is not much time for exhibition games, the article concluded.

These preseason games in August for some veterans means the chance to be vindicated and extend a career, according to an article in this week’s USA Today Sports Weekly.

For many low-profile rookies these games may be the only chance to be noticed and steal a roster spot.

Last year’s conference championship game participants (Super Bowl LIV champion Kansas City, San Francisco, Green Bay and Tennessee) all return much of their same players, front office and coaching personnel and should do fine in the regular season without the benefit of exhibition games in August.

Teams such as the Baltimore Ravens, who won an NFL-best 14 regular-season games in 2019 riding MVP Lamar Jackson’s arm and legs, a league-high 33.2 points per game and a single-season league-record 3,296 rushing yards, should do great without exhibition games.

Although the Ravens’ Earl Thomas-led defense failed them in the playoffs, it still was one of the NFL’s top-rated units and will be beefed up in 2020 with the addition of veteran defensive lineman Calais Campbell and first-round linebacker Patrick Queen.

“The Ravens could be even better given the rosters and the fact their opponents didn’t have a standard off-season to try to decode the Jackson-triggered offensive assault,” the article pointed out.

Established NFL starting players will benefit because they normally only play sporadically in the preseason games.

But those who will be hurt by the canceled preseason games include new head coaches such as Mike McCarthy (Cowboys), Ron Rivera (Washington), Joe Judge (NY Giants), Kevin Stefanski (Browns) and Matt Rhule (Panthers) who would normally get an offseason head start on the competition as coaches new to their respective organizations.

Rookies like Cincinnati’s new quarterback Joe Burrow and new quarterbacks like the Colts’ Philip Rivers and Tampa Bay’s Tom Brady won’t show their stuff until the starting bell rings next month.

KWICKIES…Philadelphia Eagles head Coach Doug Peterson tested positive for the coronavirus last weekend which probably will be the first of many positive cases in the NFL.

Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien describes his team’s training camp building as “the cleanest building in Houston. I mean, you could eat off the floor in here. It’s that clean and it’s scoured every single day. When I say scoured, it’s disinfected every single day and cleaned every day.”

I was saddened by the sudden death of Mike Kelley last weekend. I covered many of his football and baseball games for the Little Cypress Bears as a beat writer. I also visited with him several times after church activities where all he wanted to talk about was sports. He will be sadly missed.

College Power 5 conferences who have decided to play only league games this fall include the SEC, Big Ten, ACC, Pac-12 and Big-12. This will eliminate some of the cupcake victories against weaker teams and make the weekly polls more accurate.

Justin Thomas fired a 65 in Sunday’s final round to win the PGA Tour FedEx St. Jude Invitational in Memphis by three strokes and the $1.82 million paycheck. It was Thomas’ 13th PGA Tour title. At 27, he became the third-youngest player since 1960 to reach 13 wins, trailing only Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus.

Steve Levy, Brian Griese and Louis Riddick will be the new announcer team for ESPN’s “Monday Night Football”

JUST BETWEEN US…The Houston Astros went into last night’s game against the Diamondbacks in Arizona with a ho-hum 5-4 record but tied for first place with Oakland in the AL West Division. But two of those losses came in extra innings that involved a depleted bullpen due to either injury or illness. However, Houston won its first extra-inning game Sunday at Los Angeles and split the four-game series with the Angels, who also have a problem with their relievers. Astros players currently on the Injured List include closer Roberto Osuna, ace Justin Verlander, plus pitchers Joe Biagini, Rogelio Armenteros, Austin Pruitt, Brad Peacock, Cionel Perez, Jose Urquidy and designated hitter Yordan Alvarez and infielder Aledmys Diaz.

 

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