The Miami Dolphins squad might be permitted back in the facilities sooner than what the NFL, and the seriousness of the global COVID-19 pandemic, had led fans to believe. Early on Monday, the league sent a memo to all 32 NFL teams with lengthy and explicit guidelines and protocols.
While there is still no set date for the players’ return, Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network reports that there is a chance that rookies and veterans who need physicals could be in the Baptist Health Training Facility as soon as, if not before, June 26.
No dates set yet and no minicamps expected, but the NFL and NFLPA are discussing the possibility of certain players — such as rookies, and veterans who changed teams and need physicals — returning to club facilities on a limited basis before June 26, per sources.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) June 8, 2020
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Breaking Down the Memo
The memo, shared by MMQB’s Albert Breer, specifies a tiered classification structure of individuals within the organization.
And here we have the NFL’s agreed upon protocols for players to return to team facilities. pic.twitter.com/1H9mWJepn4
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) June 8, 2020
Tiers 1 and 2, which includes players and those who will require access to them (i.e. coaches, trainers, physicians, general managers, additional medical staff, videographers, and assigned security) will be granted access to “Restricted Areas,” which include practice and stadium playing fields and sidelines, locker rooms, training rooms, lounges, meal and weight rooms. These essential personnel will have a separate entry point from the third tier, which includes in-house media, and transportation and maintenance providers.
Clubs will also be required to enforce physical distancing when inside facilities, and reconfigure locker rooms to keep players six feet apart. Workouts will be limited to small groups, and meetings will be conducted virtually whenever possible. Additional surface and equipment disinfecting rules are also specified.
Looking Ahead at the Dolphins
This outlook is great news for Dolphins head coach Brian Flores, who stated in a meeting with the media last week that he was anxious to start working with players in a more hands-on fashion.
“The rookies in general, I think they’ve all done a good job,” Flores said. “They’re all in meetings, they’re all learning, they’re all doing everything they can possibly do to pick up the information, to train. But quite honestly it’s hard not to have your hands on them.”
Flores also noted that it’s hard for him to provide an outlook on the franchise’s rookie quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa, who has been rehabbing a posterior wall fracture since last fall. “I haven’t seen him. Our doctors haven’t seen him,” Flores said.
That could be happening far more quickly than Flores had imagined. The coach and his staff were finally allowed admittance back into their facilities on Monday, which should speed up the acclimation process to the changes outlined in the same day’s memo. Coaches and trainers will have to make many modifications to traditional training protocol, which may be challenging for Flores as he enters only his second year in his role, and expectations are high.
While everyone wants to see Tagovailoa hit the field quickly, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has said that he hopes his shot in the limelight is not over. The players’ swift return to their facilities will certainly help make that decision a more thoughtful one. But according to ESPN’s Dianna Russini, appreciation is the first thing on many of these returning coaches’ minds.
It’s been a great Monday for many around the NFL. Many HCs and their staff back in their facilities today. I had one coach text me back when I asked how does it feel being in the office “I’m sleeping on my desk tonight so I don’t have to leave”
— Dianna Russini (@diannaESPN) June 8, 2020
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