NFL players are becoming more and more vocal about what they'd like to see happen in August, as the league works to not only begin training camp on time in late July amid an ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but also attempts to hold at least two preseason games in 2020. The problem is the latter doesn't exactly work for the NFLPA, Pittsburgh Steelers pass rush ace is hoping the NFLPA gets their way.altogether -- in favor of using August as a ramp-up period that flows directly into the start of the regular season. With the two sides seemingly ready to lock horns over the matter, All-Pro pass rusher T.J. Watt isn't shy about his preference, the
Speaking to 93.7FM The Fan in Pittsburgh, Watt made it clear players across the league will need time to get their feet beneath them after having been forced into a virtual offseason and banned from training at team facilities since spring.
"I really don't think it's going to matter much varying from team to team", he said on 'The Fan Morning Show' with Colin Dunlap and Chris Mack, when asked about potential competitive disadvantages from lack of minicamps and the like. "I think the biggest thing is just seeing who's been prepared -- individually."
Watt's point is that while it's obvious many players have been keeping themselves as finely tuned as possible, others haven't and, no matter which side of that spectrum a player falls on, all could benefit from more prep time.
"So many other guys don't know how other people have been working out," Watt said. "I know I've been working out extremely hard and just like I do every offseason, but then I know there are also some guys out there who haven't been working out nearly as hard as they normally would. I think there definitely needs to be some sort of acclimation period where we're able to get conditioned and in the right shape to play football, because like I said, some people are working extremely hard and some guys probably aren't working as hard as they should be".
The two-time Pro Bowler is far from alone in his stance, with Carolina Panthers safety Tre Boston (among others) between the NFLPA and NFL as well, as the scheduled start of training camp sits just three weeks away for veterans. With "thousands of unanswered questions" still looming and the threat of an abbreviated acclimation period, or lack of one altogether, inherently increasing the potential for serious injury -- it stands to reason players would do all they can to try and ease back into football seeing as most have not taken a practice snap in 2020.
The NFL has begun pushing back against cancelling the remaining two preseason games though, setting the stage for what could be another back alley brawl with the NFLPA over the next few weeks.