AUSTIN (KXAN) — The NFL is pushing ahead with its scheduled training camp start date for all 32 teams this week, and numerous players are pushing back against the league asking for safer protocols during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs, slated to open the season on Thursday, Sept. 10, will get a several days head start on training camp, scheduled to start on Monday.
For the other 30 teams, rookies will report on Tuesday, quarterbacks and injured players will report on Thursday and veterans are expected to report on Tuesday, July 28.
On Sunday, Texans defensive end JJ Watt joined a large group of NFL players requesting that the league take extra steps to keep players safe and healthy as the season begins to come into view. Watt, Drew Brees, Patrick Mahomes, Todd Gurley, Richard Sherman, Russell Wilson, Khalil Mack and Stefon Diggs went public on social media with their safety demands.
The NFL and NFL Players Association are reportedly submersed in the negotiation phase for safely playing during the pandemic.
Cowboys pass rusher Demarcus Lawrence told ESPN that he’s weighing his options before veterans are expected to report next week. Lawrence told ESPN his wife is pregnant and his family is his top priority when weighing his options for playing.
In a list of reasonable concerns from the players’ perspective, Watt is calling on the NFL to provide clarity on their testing protocol, the procedure for a positive COVID-19 diagnosis and a suitable opt out clause for high-risk players.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees called on the NFL to follow the guidance of medical experts before players returned to the practice fields.
“We need Football! We need sports! We need hope! The NFL’s unwillingness to follow the recommendations of their own medical experts will prevent that. If the NFL doesn’t do their part to keep players healthy there is no football in 2020. It’s that simple. Get it done,” Brees said in a post on Sunday.