Doug Pederson can look out his office window and see Citizens Bank Park less than half a mile away.
That's a pretty sobering reminder of the risks his football team is about to take.
The Phillies' game Monday night against the Yankees was postponed in the wake of the Marlins’ COVID-19 outbreak in Philadelphia over the weekend (see story).
As the Eagles embark on training camp, Pederson said he’s confident his players and staff are protected from the sort of COVID-19 outbreak that struck the Marlins.
I feel extremely safe,” Pederson said in a Zoom call Monday morning. “Obviously, coming into it there might have been some skepticism about the testing and the screenings that go on, but it’s very thorough. When you’re here and you get tested in the morning, you’ve got a screening process that you have to go through to get into the building, wearing masks in the building, everywhere we go, I feel extremely safe.
According to protocols agreed on by the NFL and the NFLPA, training camps can begin a ramp-up process on Tuesday consisting of COVID-19 testing and virtual meetings that will eventually — in theory — lead to padded practices starting on Aug. 17.
Pederson acknowledged that positive tests are “probable” since the players are not in a bubble, but he believes the team is safe.
This is our bubble right here at NovaCare,” he said. “I can’t control everything. We can’t control everything. There are probably going to be some things that come up down the road. But right now I feel extremely safe, and this is a great environment for our players to succeed in.
The protocols the league and the union agreed on limit the number of players, coaches and staff inside the building at any time, require increased spacing of lockers and dramatically reduce the number of media and support staff allowed into the facility to watch outdoor practices.
“The protocols that the NFL has put into place with the [NFLPA] and the agreement there with all of our doctors, it gives us hope, it gives us excitement moving forward,” Pederson said. “We understand that the virus is real and we do everything we can in our power to stay safe when we’re in the building, protecting our players and it’s unfortunate what has happened but we do have a lengthy set of protocols that we have to abide by and this is our new normal right now, working in these conditions. … It’s something that we’re going to embrace. We’re going to make it a positive.”
Pederson said he’s aware of the issues Major League Baseball is facing right now but said his job is to focus on getting his players ready for football and he’ll leave the rest to the experts.
“I know the guys that are higher up than me are watching that, our doctors, the medical team at the NFL, they’re watching all this stuff, they’re in constant conversations, constant meetings, and they’ll have a plan, they’ll be prepared,” he said. “It’s my job to get the team prepared and then obviously their job to make sure that they’re all safe and doing the right thing.”
The NFLPA announced Monday that the Eagles are among 20 teams whose infectious disease emergency plan has been approved by the union, formally clearing the way for the Eagles to open camp. The 12 other teams, including the Cowboys and Washington, have their applications in review.
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