Eagles

NFL’s chief medical officer remains ‘cautiously optimistic’ about a 2020 season

NFL’s chief medical officer remains ‘cautiously optimistic’ about a 2020 season

In the last week there have been plenty of reasons to be skeptical about the upcoming NFL season. 

Many players have opted out of the 2020 season, including Eagles WR Marquise Goodwin. Even more have been placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, meaning they’ve either tested positive or have been exposed to someone that has. The Eagles placed three players on that list on Wednesday. 

And the NFL is also watching Major League Baseball as the Marlins outbreak has affected several teams. 

Despite all that, the NFL’s chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills told the Houston Chronicle he’s still “cautiously optimistic” about the 2020 season. 

“I remain cautiously optimistic because we’ve spent a tremendous amount of time and energy with these protocols and preparing, trying to mitigate risk to the best that we can,” Sills said. 

“At the same time, we have to realize that this is going to be hard. This is going to be really hard because this is a tough opponent. This virus is a highly contagious virus, and it remains very endemic across our country. 

“It’s going to be a real challenge for us at every level of the league, but our teams are very committed to this. I know our players are very invested, as are all of our coaches and staff. We’re all going to put our very best foot forward to try to mitigate risk and see if we can carry forward and coexist with a virus. As much as we’d like it to go away, I think it’s clear that it’s unlikely to be eradicated at any time in the near future.” 

The biggest hurdle for the NFL is obviously the lack of a bubble scenario. 

ESPN broke down the reasons why the NFL landed on a plan that didn’t include a bubble, similar to what the NBA has used.

Sills is calling the NFL’s plan a “virtual football bubble” but that’s pretty similar to what MLB has been using to varying levels of success so far. 

If the NFL were to have a team deal with an outbreak similar to what the Marlins are going through right now, what happens then? What if multiple players and coaches test positive during the season? What if games need to be canceled or postponed? 

There are a lot of questions and a lot of hypothetical situations to worry about. 

Sills stressed the need to “remain flexible and adaptable” and said they’ll evaluate on a case-by-case basis. 

“Every situation is unique,” Sills said to the Chronicle, “but we’re going to have a significant amount of data that we’re going to collect via our testing and our contact tracing, and we’ll work together with the Players Association, with the infectious disease experts, with epidemiologists and public health authorities, including the CDC, and we’ll make the best decision about what is the safest for our players and all our personnel at each step along the way.” 

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Eagles to open season in Washington without fans in stands

Eagles to open season in Washington without fans in stands

If you were planning on driving down I-95 for the Eagles’ season opener in Washington, you can forget it. 

The Washington Football Team on Wednesday morning announced that their home games at FedExField will be played without fans. That obviously begins in one month and one day, on Sept. 13, when Washington is scheduled to host the Eagles in the opener. 

Washington said it had developed a “comprehensive health and safety plan” but this decision “comes out of an abundance of caution due to the rapidly changing dynamics of the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

It’s not a surprise. At this point, it would be pretty surprising to see NFL fans in seats throughout the league, but those decisions will be left up to individual states, cities and teams. 

In Philly, it’s still up in the air, although it seems unlikely the Linc will have fans. 

In July, Philadelphia Department of Health commissioner Thomas Farley and Philadelphia managing director Brian Abernathy released a statement saying the Eagles would “be allowed to play, although without crowds.”

Then the next day officials issued another statement, calling the situation “fluid” and seemingly leaving open the possibility for fans in the 2020 season. 

The Eagles already gave their season ticket holders the ability to opt out of the 2020 season. 

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Miles Sanders figuring out his new role with Eagles

Miles Sanders figuring out his new role with Eagles

A year ago, Miles Sanders was the young guy. A 22-year-old rookie in a running back room with 36-year-old Darren Sproles, two-time 1,000-yard rusher Jordan Howard, Super Bowl hero Corey Clement and, for a few weeks, fifth-year pro Jay Ajayi.

Sproles is now retired and working for the Eagles, Howard is with the Dolphins and Ajayi is out of football. Clement is back with the Eagles for his fourth year after two injury-plagued seasons.

And as weird as it sounds, Sanders — with 11 career starts under his belt — is now the savvy vet. 

Even though he didn’t become the Eagles’ regular tailback until Howard got hurt in Week 9, Sanders has almost as many career carries as all the Eagles’ other running backs combined.

There was talk about the Eagles going out and signing a veteran back. It never happened.

Sanders kind of is the veteran back. 

Look at the Eagles’ running back stable going into training camp:

Miles Sanders (23): 179-818 rushing, 50 -509 receiving, 6 TD
Boston Scott (25): 61-for-245 rushing, 24-204 receiving, 5 TD
Corey Clement (25): 142-580 rushing, 32-315 receiving, 8 TD
Elijah Holyfield (22): 0-0, 0-0
Adrian Killians (22): 0-0, 0-0
Michael Warren [21]: 0-0, 0-0

Sanders and Scott, who were both so good down the stretch last year, have both graduated from wide-eyed rookies to mature leaders.

“Just really growing up faster, making us mature faster, knowing that we’re the only two backs that played (at the end of) last year and now we have younger guys in the room — plus Corey’s been here, but he’s been out a couple years,” Sanders said. “But now we’re the older guys, having to be more vocal, making sure we know what we’re doing, setting examples and being role models. It feels good.”

And with Duce Staley and Sproles, that’s 9,337 career rushing yards,7,427 receiving yards and 89 touchdowns of expertise right there in the building.

Staley is in his 10th year on the Eagles’ coaching staff and eighth year as running backs coach, and Sproles is a personnel consultant in the scouting department.

“We still got Sproles in the room helping us out and we still got Duce,” Sanders said. “So with those two guys I think sky’s the limit for this group.”

There were plenty of veteran running backs available if the Eagles wanted one.

Carlos Hyde, LeSean McCoy, Devona Freeman, Lamar Miller, Jonathan Williams and one-time Eagle Wendell Smallwood were on the street two months into free agency.

Doug Pederson and Howie Roseman decided to go with what they have.

“I trust Howie and their process in bringing people in for what’s the best for the team,” Sanders said. “They announced that I’m the guy this year, but having any type of veteran running back in here would be a blessing too just for me to pick their brain and help me out too. I’m always up to learn.”

Clement is the Eagles’ oldest running back. Assuming this is the group the Eagles take into the regular season, it will be the first time in 34 years the Eagles don’t have a running back older than 26.

In 1986, their running back corps consisted of Keith Byars (23), Anthony Toney (24), Michael Haddix (25), Junior Tautalatasi (24) and Charles Crawford (22).

This 2020 running back group has speed, explosiveness, versatility and toughness.

And when you have all that, maybe you don’t even need experience.

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