We are 33 days away from when most teams are scheduled to begin training camp for the 2020 season and, by all accounts, it looks like the league is still on that course. During a conference call on Thursday, NFL executive vice president Jeff Pash noted that teams have been told that training camps are expected to open "on the normal schedule." While the initial start of training camp (July 28 for most clubs) seems to be intact, the preseason may see a reduction.
The league has reportedly been exploring the possibility of playing two preseason exhibitions instead of four, which would allow teams more time in-house to get players situated for the regular season and would cut traveling in half. The 2020 preseason opener, the Hall of Fame game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys, which was scheduled to be played on Aug. 6 in Canton, Ohio, was officially canceled earlier on Thursday. Pash was directly asked about the possibility of a shortened preseason and said, "We're in active discussions with the NFLPA on those issues. We'll continue at that and expect to have some resolutions relatively soon that will advise the clubs at that time."
Even with the preseason possibly getting a haircut, the league continues to have an optimistic view of the regular season. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell reiterated during his conference call that the original start date for training camp is still on track and to "get ready for games at our stadiums and to engage our fans both in stadiums and through our media partners."
NFL owners did approve a proposal on Thursday to cover the seats closest to the field and will place sponsor logos over the seat coverings. This is an effort by the league to keep players socially distanced from fans who could possibly be in the stands, while also creating some revenue in the process during a season where profits likely won't be as high.
This all comes after the league has seen an uptick in COVID-19 diagnoses across its clubs. The Texans, Cowboys, Buccanneers, and 49ers are just a handful of the number of franchises that have seen cases of the coronavirus come about in recent weeks. The NFLPA even sent out a message to its players over the weekend urging them to halt group workouts until they arrive at training camp to help curb possible infections.
NFL medical director Dr. Allen Sills noted during the Thursday conference call that the league is 'setting up a very ambitious testing program" for when everyone reconvenes later this summer. The NFLPA previously stated that plans were being set in place to have players tested three times a week.