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.

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Les Bowen (earlybirds@inquirer.com)

NFL Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sills says the league will deal with positive coronavirus tests as they occur, when the league reopens.
David J. Phillip / AP
NFL Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sills says the league will deal with positive coronavirus tests as they occur, when the league reopens.

NFL expects positive tests

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.

Jason Peters (left) is still a free agent and Andre Dillard (right) is the Eagles' left tackle, Doug Pederson said Tuesday. Pederson is concerned, though, about getting Dillard adequate prep time.
TIM TAI / Staff Photographer
Jason Peters (left) is still a free agent and Andre Dillard (right) is the Eagles' left tackle, Doug Pederson said Tuesday. Pederson is concerned, though, about getting Dillard adequate prep time.

What you need to know about the Eagles

From the mailbag

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.

Presumably, Mailata is quarantining in Australia and we don’t know a lot more than that. We do know there is opportunity, with Halapoulivaati Vaitai and Jason Peters gone. Mailata could be the swing tackle behind presumptive starters Andre Dillard and Lane Johnson. He’ll be competing primarily with Matt Pryor and rookie Prince Tega Wanogho. I think one of the overlooked failures of the past two seasons is the coaching staff’s inability to work it out for Mailata to get even a little bit of work in a regular season game. But he has lots of practice time and preseason game work behind him now, and he’s still 6-foot-8, 346. If he can’t help the Eagles this year, the experiment surely will be over.