The COVID-19-altered offseason has already thrown teams a few curveballs. There will be more throughout the 2020 campaign.
Expect teams to be uber-cautious with their players, especially in the early portions of the ramp-up period of training camp.
Case-in-point: The Buffalo Bills called an audible Thursday.
NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported on Inside Training Camp Live that the Bills sent all of their rookies home for virtual meetings instead of holding in-person meetings as scheduled. Buffalo later announced that two players -- Dane Jackson and Siran Neal -- has been placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. The Bills have had five positive tests since testing began last Tuesday.
"The Buffalo Bills today I'm told sent home all of the rookies they had inside the building that were going to be a part of meetings there," Garafolo said on NFL Network. "The Bills have had some positive COVID tests that they have reported. They've got guys on the reserve/COVID list. So what they're trying to do is they're trying to stay ahead of it. They said we were going to have these meetings here today. Why don't we just go and do it virtually? So they sent all those guys home and they're having their meetings virtually. Then they'll regather again at some point maybe as early as tomorrow and go forward. The Bills just trying to stay ahead of it as they possibly can. And all these teams learning that it's going to be a mix of virtual and in-person anyway. There might be some days where we have a plan to do things in person and, you know what, we're going to do it virtually today. That was the Bills today. It might be your team tomorrow."
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport obtained the following statement from the Bills on Thursday afternoon:
"As we were informed by medical experts as training camp opened, we expected to have positive tests for COVID. With 5 since the beginning of the testing period last Tuesday, we decided to take a disciplined, proactive and preventative approach to hopefully eliminate additional cases within our team."
According to the jointly agreed-upon COVID-19 protocols between the NFL and NFLPA, teams are to hold virtual meetings whenever possible and there are restrictions on how many players can be in certain rooms, depending on social distancing availability.
NFL Network's Judy Battista relayed a conversation Thursday with Dr. Allen Sills, the league's chief medical officer, in which he was asked what they're learning from the MLB's Miami Marlins' COVID-19 outbreak.
"This was his response: This is going to be hard. The NFL in 2020 is not going to look the way it has in the past," Battista said. "He said we have to be incredibly vigilant. He believes that the NFL has the right protocols in place. He believes they're ready for this. He emphasized this -- that you have to be consistent in enforcing these protocols and you're going to have to be consistent all season long. You can't let your guard down, he says, that's when you'll get in trouble."
The Bills are being cautious Thursday in hopes to avoid further spread. Expect other teams to make similar moves as more players are diagnosed with the virus to help avoid full-blown outbreaks.