The NFL announced new rules for players to return to team facilities, and while that's good news as the country begins to reopen amid the Coronavirus pandemic, the new safety protocols will also present challenges.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sent the new rules to all 32 teams in a memo that explained the league is working to reduce the risks of COVID-19, there is no way to eliminate that risk. Instead, Goodell outlined a path to make players as safe as possible, whether that means guys come back to team facilities before the June 26th deadline for offseason work or in late July when training camps are allowed to start up.
For Redskins fans the most interesting part of Goodell's memo comes in new rules for NFL locker rooms that require players to be six-feet apart from one another.
At the Redskins current Ashburn facility that will be tricky, particularly while the team is carrying expanded 90-man offseason rosters.
In past seasons the Redskins locker room is quite crowded during the 90-man roster phase, and that's without six-feet of social distance between each player. Implementing that distance seems near impossible given the structural limitations of the existing locker room.
Once the roster drops down to 53-man regular-season size, things could work.
Washington head coach Ron Rivera already told players and reporters that he planned on removing ping pong tables and other recreation equipment from the locker room, but with new social distancing guidelines, ping pong would get the boot anyway. With extra space in the middle of the locker room from removing the gaming equipment and new lockers installed to create more distance, it seems possible Washington's equipment staff could reconfigure the locker room to adhere to new policies.
Outside of the locker room changes, the other new policies laid out by Goodell don't seem that hard to maneuver. Virtual meetings, which have already been happening, and small groups in the weight room. That's relatively easy.
The reality is the 2020 NFL season will be unlike any season before it, and plenty of things are going to be very different than years past.
The key is to get the players on the field, safely, and let everyone enjoy the most loved sport in America.
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