JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It was training camp in name only.
When Jaguars players began reporting Tuesday morning, here’s what they found.
First stop, a temperature check. Then, it’s on through their own entrance, used by only players, not Jaguars staff. Social distancing was still the order of the day.
They’re all wearing masks — well, most of the time.
And as the Jaguars players checked in for the first day of training camp, each player went into a trailer, set up outside of the team’s weight room to take a coronavirus test.
The NFL has partnered with a private testing company called Bio-Reference Laboratories to run the tests. There’s a location here in Jacksonville on University Blvd.
The players will be tested three times between now and Friday — that’s before they can even get on the field. Their regular season opener on Sept. 13 feels further away than it seems in the era of COVID-19.
The usual team meetings won’t look the same either. Instead of Doug Marrone standing at the front of the large meeting room with 90 players, plus assistant coaches and support staff in the seats, Marrone will be in his office and each position group will be in their own rooms.
Quarterbacks in one room. Running backs in another room. Receivers in another room.
And so on.
As of right now, the Jaguars have 90 players on the roster. They have to be down to 80 before the first padded practice on Aug. 17, but that list could include players on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. There were four rookies placed on that list Monday and two more players headed there on Tuesday.
And then there is Yannick Ngakoue, who refuses to sign the Jaguars franchise tender offer, so he’s not reporting to camp, so making cuts to 80 may not take place all at once.
As far as how interviews will be conducted this year, they’ll be virtual. And there will be a limited number of reporters at camp each day, so media coverage across the league will look different. As commissioner Roger Goodell wrote in a letter to fans yesterday, this is all about flexibility and adaptability.
Marrone is scheduled to speak to the media on Thursday. First-round picks CJ Henderson and K’Lavon Chaisson are scheduled to talk on Friday. Veterans likely won’t meet with the media before Gardner Minshew is scheduled to speak with reporters next Tuesday.