The idea that a coach could be sidelined by a positive coronavirus test had occurred to the Eagles, before head coach Doug Pederson found himself in that situation over the weekend.
When Pederson spoke with reporters last week, he was asked about just this topic.
“I’ve thought about that quite a bit, the closer I got here to camp and being in the building. We have to have a plan for everything, as you know,” said Pederson, who said he feels the Eagles can draw from the way they have adjusted to the loss of injured starters over the last several seasons. “We’ve coached that next guy, or that next player has been able to go in and perform at a high level, but now I think that has to carry over to the coaching staff. ... I think there has to be a plan in place for any coach or any staff member that may miss a couple days or a couple weeks because of the virus.”
Assistant head coach and running backs coach Duce Staley will take over Pederson’s duties at the NovaCare Complex, but really, Pederson will still be in charge. Most work is still being done remotely.
How long will Pederson be sidelined? Obviously, if he encounters symptoms, there is no way to know, but since the Eagles say he is currently asymptomatic, if that continues to be the case, he can either wait 10 days, or he can get back to the facility in five days by testing negative twice, with 24 hours between the tests. Then the Eagles’ head physician would have to consult with the league, but that presumably would be a formality.
Pederson’s positive test, along with that of right tackle Lane Johnson, isn’t the end of the world, but as with what has happened in Major League Baseball, it illustrates the problems that are bound to come up when you can’t totally “bubble” everyone, the way the NBA and the NHL have. Pederson extolled the Eagles’ precautions, even proclaimed that the team was in its “NovaCare bubble,” but it isn’t much of a bubble if it has a hole in it, for everyone to go home at night.
Whether the NFL can tiptoe through six months like this and make it to the Super Bowl with key players and coaches able to participate remains a big question.
— Les Bowen (email@example.com)
Casey Toohill, the Eagles’ seventh-round rookie defensive end, spoke with reporters via Zoom on Sunday about life as a rookie in the year of the coronavirus. So much is different for this group — from not getting preseason games to work with their new teammates, to being told to limit their interactions off the field. Toohill was asked if he has given any thought to what life will be like when the season starts, if he’ll try to have his family visit, as rookies usually do.
“You’ve really got to stay in your own little bubble. I’d love to see my family. If that’s permitted, and time permits, that’s something I’ll try to do,” Toohill said. “But besides that, really, not much. I’m going to try to follow the guidelines, follow the rules, so we can have a season. That’s the most important part.”
Toohill was asked how the rookies — sequestered at a hotel near NovaCare — spend their evenings right now.
“There’s bonding, whether it’s at dinner or wherever. ... But mostly it’s just been a lot of mental work. At the end of the night, either after dinner or after meetings, just recovery work, getting ready for the next day.”
“Have the Eagles said what they are doing with position group meetings? Do they do those remote or at least split the position group meetings up between two groups in case of an outbreak? — @BCSinReverse on Twitter