It didn’t seem to be that big a deal when the Eagles weren’t among the NFL teams allowed to reopen their facilities Tuesday, with Philadelphia still in the “red phase” of Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf’s pandemic plan. The NFL wasn’t allowing coaches and players to convene, and office staffs were limited to 50 percent, up to 75 people per team, even in states where restrictions were less severe than in Pa.
But then the Tampa Bay Times disclosed that new quarterback Tom Brady gathered receivers at a private high school in the Tampa area early Tuesday morning to run routes and work on timing.
The NFL said this was OK, as long as they adhered to local regulations. Hillsborough County still hasn’t opened athletic fields in local parks, and encourages people who use its outdoor facilities to wear masks. In the seven photos published by the Tampa Bay Times, no player was wearing a mask, and there seemed to be no effort to achieve social distancing. But the players were working out at Berkeley Prep, again, a private facility, with the headmaster looking on.
This isn’t a huge deal, but it is a significant step up from virtual sessions with your receivers, which is what, as far as we know, the rest of the league is doing. Of course, we can’t say for sure that Carson Wentz hasn’t found a way to spirit his receivers off to North Dakota, or to work with them at his place in South Jersey, but there has been no indication of this, and in New Jersey, such a gathering definitely would be in violation of pandemic protocols.
Unlike Brady, Wentz isn’t starting over with a new team, but he does have a bunch of new receivers, including top draft pick Jalen Reagor, fifth- and sixth-round draftees John Hightower and Quez Watkins, veteran Marquise Goodwin, and undrafted rookies Manasseh Bailey and Khalil Tate. Wentz hasn’t thrown a pass to surgically repaired DeSean Jackson in more than six months.
A few sessions with these guys would come in quite handy, given that the team probably won’t gather until training camp in late July.
— Les Bowen (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The NFL’s chief medical officer, Dr. Allen Sills, said Tuesday there is no target date yet for having players and coaches gather at team facilities. He also acknowledged that he does expect positive coronavirus tests.
“We fully expect we will have positive cases that will arise,” Sills told reporters, "because we think that this disease will remain endemic in society. And so it shouldn’t be a surprise if new positive cases arise. Our challenge is to identify them as quickly as possible and to prevent spread to any other participants. So we’re working very diligently on that, and we’ll have some detailed plans to share about that at a later time.”
Sills said the NFL has “broad agreement” with the NFLPA on safety protocols to be followed when players return.
What’s the story on Jordan Mailata? Will he be playing this year? — Debbie Kroutch, via Twitter.
Good question. It seems like Mailata, the Eagles’ Australian offensive tackle project, has been hanging around forever, getting ready to play and never playing, but he just turned 23 in March, making him younger than two of this year’s rookie draftees, fifth-round wideout John Hightower and seventh-round edge rusher Casey Toohill.