Less than a week after Ravens head coach John Harbaugh called the NFL’s COVID-19 safety guidelines for training camp “humanly impossible,” Doug Pederson was a little more optimistic.
He said the Eagles are right now going through plenty of different options.
“Listen, we understand, I understand that this is a unique time in our society, in our country and our world,” Pederson said on a Zoom call with reporters Tuesday morning. “This is just what we're faced with.
“So we're going to make the most of it and use the resources possibly with the NovaCare facility, possibly with our stadium to take advantage of everything that we can. And the No. 1 thing here is making sure that our players and our coaches and all our staff are safe. That's our most important aspect of everything right now.”
This is the first time anyone from the Eagles has publicly brought up the possibility of using Lincoln Financial Field to gain some extra space during training camp but it makes an awful lot of sense.
While the Eagles have three practice fields and more outdoor space at the NovaCare Complex, the rest of the facility is cramped, especially the locker rooms. When the Eagles’ roster is at 90, they need to add an extra row of popup lockers in the middle of the locker room just to fit everyone. So the part of the memo to NFL teams where it asks to keep lockers spaced 6 feet apart when possible is pretty laughable if you know the conditions at the NovaCare. But the Eagles have a larger locker room at the Linc and they have a visitors locker room and more room to spread out.
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So perhaps the Eagles will find some way of using both the NovaCare Complex and Lincoln Financial Field for locker rooms and for practice space during training camp.
Of course, there are a lot of logistics to work out before camp is expected to start in late July.
“But we are in the process of taking a look at a lot of different scenarios,” Pederson said. “Again, like I mentioned, using the stadium, possibly, or using the stadium and using the NovaCare facility to be able to handle the numbers that we have in training camp from a player perspective.
“It's going to look different. It will feel different, but at the same time, we are going to embrace it and we are going to make the most of it, and our job as coaches is to prepare our football team for the regular season.”
Pederson said it’ll still be important to have the entire team together and he plans on doing that. But they’re going to take precautions when they can. They’re going to try to social distance and they’ll wear masks when they’re inside the building and not working out.
The NovaCare Complex shut down on March 13 and while it’s open for staffers, the coaching staff and players haven’t returned. Even Pederson said he hasn’t been in the building since then. So after missing OTAs, this year’s training camp will be even more important leading into the season.
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