Even though the Patriots are one of just a handful of teams that hasn’t had a player yet land on the COVID Reserve List, Bill Belichick isn’t taking any high-fives.
First, there’s a looooong way to go. Second, you want to avoid unnecessary interpersonal contact when at all possible and high-fives are unnecessary in addition to often being poorly executed.
But the Patriots head coach is proud of the work the team has done so far.
“The team and the organization have addressed this very professionally, strictly, and we've changed quite a bit as more information or different techniques or products or whatever have become available or our information has changed,” Belichick said in response to a question from Ben Volin of The Boston Globe during a Monday morning video conference. “We've been very fluid with this, the players have done a great job of following protocols, and we've also had a lot of great feedback from the players on things, suggestions.”
The Patriots welcomed players into the facility about two weeks ago. Based on their feedback, the logistics have been tweaked, said Belichick.
“Seeing it from an organizational point of view or a coach's point of view is one thing, but when you're a player, you see what you do on a daily basis maybe a little bit differently, and so their feedback has been great and we've made quite a few or I'd say several modifications to our protocols and programs because of them or suggestions that they've made or concerns that they've raised,” he said.
“I think we're working together, but we've got a long way to go,” he continued. “We'll see, but it's constantly evolving, and I'm sure that we'll have a lot more discussions and situations that we're going to have to deal with going forward when we get into things like traveling and things like that. So, we're not there yet. We've got a full plate right now, but eventually we're going to have to deal with other factors, as well.”
Even though there should never be an occasion in which a COVID-positive player is on the field for a game or practice, the NFL is encouraging players to consider wearing face shields.
That was something the team was checking into prior to the NFL and equipment manufacturer Oakley joined forces on creating a shield, said Belichick.
“We actually started working on it back in May before even the Oakley shield was available,” Belichick said. “The players are aware — it's an optional piece of equipment. All of the players are aware of it, all of the players have been given the opportunity to work with it during those first nine days of Phase One or eight days of Phase One, and then in Phase Two, so the last four practices. Guys have experimented with it, and we'll see what ultimately their decision is. It's an individual decision. They may change based on the experiences — obviously, we haven't had contact, so there's nothing to evaluate there — but they've run in them and worked out in them and so forth.
“I think we have some guys that will wear them, we have some guys that won't, and that may change based on their experiences with them,” Belichick added.