CINCINNATI — The Bengals plan to welcome some players back to their facilities at Paul Brown Stadium on Wednesday with clearance from the NFL.
Only players undergoing injury rehabilitation can participate in the first phase of the league's plan.
"It indeed is a partial reopening (not everyone all at the same time), following all league and state/local government guidelines of course," the club said in an email.
Several NFL teams opened Tuesday - the first day permitted under league guidelines. Facilities have been closed since late March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In a memo sent to the 32 teams last week, Commissioner Roger Goodell stressed that the clubs must be “in compliance with any additional public health requirements in their jurisdiction, and have implemented the protocols that were developed" by Dr. Allen Sills, league medical officer.
Sills was scheduled to conduct a training program for club infection control officers (ICO) on Monday night.
Other protocols include:
- No members of the coaching staff can return to the facility under the first phase of reopening. “This is important to ensure equity among all 32 clubs,” Goodell wrote.
- Strength and conditioning coaches participating in player rehab may continue that work in the facility. Otherwise, they are barred until the rest of the coaching staff is allowed to return.
- Members of the personnel, football operations/football administration staff, equipment staff, medical staff, and nutritionists can attend.
- Teams may have no more than 50% of their staff in the facility, not to exceed 75 people. If a club wants to deploy staff to more than one location, all locations must implement the same health and safety protocols, and the combined number of employees at all locations can’t exceed 75.
Any incidence of Covid-19 in the facility must be reported immediately to Sills and the team’s ICO. Clubs also must promptly report any change in government regulations to the league.
With such states as California, New York, New Jersey, Washington and Virginia still under heavy restrictions, that immediately leaves nine franchises unable to use their facilities at this time. The Las Vegas Raiders still have their training complex in Alameda, California.
“After we implement this first phase,” Goodell told the teams, “and as more states and localities enact policies that allow more club facilities to reopen, I expect that additional staff, likely including coaching staff, will be allowed to return to club facilities in a relatively short time."
NFL teams normally would be holding organized team activities (OTAs) during May, followed by June minicamps. Due to the pandemic, such activities have been done remotely.
Coaching and training staffs have worked with the players by conducting classroom instruction and on-field activities through digital applications instead of at team facilities. Those virtual meetings can occur for four hours per day, four days per week.
The NFL is making contingency plans for everything from a shortened season to moving the dates of games to playing in empty stadiums.