As we enter the final five weeks of the NFL's regular season, the league is making a few late-game adjustments.
The league on Friday announced a new round of COVID-19 safety protocol updates, chief among them a change to how the week will begin for every NFL club. Effective Monday, in-person meetings will be prohibited, including those between player and coach, coaches alone, and "staff-only" meetings. Virtual meetings are the only types of meetings permitted during this two-day period, a change that comes in an attempt to prevent internal spread of COVID-19 following game action.
Teams playing on short weeks (e.g., a Sunday game followed by a Thursday game) will be exempt from following this new requirement.
Coaches may access the facility to work independently during the two-day window but cannot meet in person. Players will also be permitted to enter the facility for recovery (scheduled weight room or practice field time under video surveillance for "the avoidance of doubt") but may not work out together. Critical members of staff are also permitted to be in the facility in this two-day window, but locker rooms and cafeterias must be closed, with only "grab-and-go" meal options allowed.
Tryouts will still be permitted on these days and are subject to current rules and testing requirements under the existing intensive protocol.
The league is also eliminating the 62-player limit on traveling parties, effective Week 13. In connection with the change, all players on the sideline on game day are required to stay at the team hotel the night before the game, and clubs may choose whether to require players not attending the game to stay at the team hotel for home games.
The player limit allows clubs to bring with them practice squad members, which arose as a potential necessity following a COVID-19 outbreak within the Ravens organization that required the team to promote multiple players in order to face Pittsburgh on Wednesday.