JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Sporting a facial hair and wearing a lanyard-style device to warn about social distancing, coach Doug Marrone kicked off Jaguars training camp with the media virtually on Thursday.
Welcome to the NFL in 2020. The unusual start to NFL training camp has arrived.
Marrone met with the media in his first appearance of training camp and said that the team and coaching staff are adjusting to the new normal. COVID-19 has scrambled the NFL offseason significantly and placed numerous safety barriers in front of teams’ return to camps.
Five minutes into the meeting, Marrone revealed one of the first changes around TIAA Bank Field — an electronic device that can be worn around the neck or wrist that monitors how close people in the building come from one another. An alert sounds if people are in too close of contact and not maintaining social distancing procedures.
“I think there’s going to be a lot of challenges for us. I think there’ll be a lot of anxiety in different areas,” Marrone said. “It’s hard to pinpoint what’s going to come up next. You’re really just doing the best job you can really at the time. So, I feel really comfortable about the protocols [in the building].”
What hasn’t changed — the Jaguars aren’t expected to have that much success on the field. Coming off of a 6-10 season with a rookie at quarterback, Jacksonville parted ways with starters and important backups at a feverish pace.
Numerous offseason media publications peg the Jaguars as one of, if not the worst team in the NFL. The franchise also doesn’t have defensive end Yannick Ngakoue in training camp and Marrone said that he sees both sides of what has become a very public standoff.
Ngakoue has not signed his franchise tender with the team and has said that he won’t play for the Jaguars.
“No, I have not [spoken to Ngakoue],” he said. “But like I said before, I know he’s one player that I know is always ready. “… Like I said before, I’m going to reiterate it again, as a coach, you know you love for that perfect harmony between management and the player as far as the business end of things. And I think when you look at it, both sides, you know, have rights from a management side to a player side.”
Rookies reported last week and veterans returned this week to begin COVID-19 checks. Six Jaguars players so far have been placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, although one of those, cornerback Josiah Scott was taken off of it Thursday. Marrone said that no players thus far have expressed an interest in opting out of the season due to COVID-19 concerns.
“No one has talked to me personally about their thoughts on that or considering that,” Marrone said. “That’s not to say that can change. I mean that could change over the next couple of days. We’ve been having a COVID meeting with our with our players as they come in, meaning you know when our rookies came in, we made it available for them and their families, coaches and their families on the phone with our doctors to ask questions to get a lot of information so we can get it directly from them. We’ll be doing the same thing tonight with our veteran players coming in.”