Tue Jul 7 6:15pm ET
By ROB MAADDI
AP Pro Football Writer
In this Dec. 8, 2019, file photo, Cleveland Browns center JC Tretter walks off the field after an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals in Cleveland. NFLPA president JC Tretter warned players they have to "fight for necessary COVID-19 protections" and Malcolm Jenkins said "football is nonessential." With training camp less than a month away, some players are speaking out about concerns over playing football during a pandemic while others are ignoring medical advice and holding workouts with teammates. (AP Photo/David Richard, File)
The NFL and the NFLPA haven’t come to an agreement on all protocols for training camp and the preseason as the report date for teams draws closer.
The two sides finalized the protocols regarding team travel, media, and treatment response, and have also updated the facilities protocol to specifically address training camp based on recommendations from a joint committee of doctors, trainers and strength coaches formed by the league and players’ union.
The league sent a 42-page memo to teams last Friday outlining those proposals. But the NFL Players Association and its president, Cleveland Browns center JC Tretter, say testing and the number of preseason games remain unresolved.
“Our normal return date for training camp is quickly approaching and we are still far from back to ‘normal,'”
“Our main concern is player safety, both in regard to preventing the virus’ transmission as well as preventing injuries after an extended and historically unique layoff.”
Tretter reiterated that players don’t want to play any preseason games and want a 48-day training camp schedule to give them more time to prepare for the season and avoid injuries. He cited an increase in injuries following the 2011 lockout.
The league last week decided to cut the preseason schedule from four games to two and pushed back the start of exhibition play an extra week to give teams more time to prepare because the coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of on-field workouts.
The league previously requested that players report to camp earlier than July 28 to give them more acclimation time for strength and conditioning because they held no formal workouts or team minicamps. But the union declined.
“When we asked for a medical reason to play games that don’t count in the standings during an ongoing pandemic, the NFL failed to provide one,” Tretter wrote.
A league official told The Associated Press that Tretter’s comments were “disheartening” to read because “we’ve been working in good faith.”
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the league doesn’t want to engage in a public dispute similar to the contentious discussions between Major League Baseball and its players’ union.
“It’s not constructive. We’d rather do this face to face,” the person said. “The committee understood the utility of playing one or two preseason games to get players ready for game-day conditions, which you can’t simulate playing against yourselves, and also to practice the protocols. We will continue working together.”
Tretter is concerned players could return only to have the season shut down before it starts.
"It has been clear for months that we need to find a way to fit football inside the world of coronavirus,” Tretter wrote. “Making decisions outside that lens is both dangerous and irresponsible.”
One idea suggested by the union’s medical director, Dr. Thom Mayer, to help control the spread of the virus was to have players wear face masks. The league’s engineers and sports equipment company tested prototypes for the masks but players shot it down.
August 5th: ADP Value
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver John Ross III has left camp to be with his son after both his son and his son's mother tested positive for COVID-19. Ross missed Tuesday's practice and has no timetable for a return. The speedy wideout is clearly prioritizing his family over football, rightfully so, at this point of the preseason. Ross will be placed on the Reserve/COVID list while he is away from the team.
The San Francisco 49ers are bringing free-agent wide receiver Tavon Austin in for a workout. The team is hoping to sign the former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver if the workout goes well. San Francisco is looking to bolster their pass-catching corps after speedy wideout Travis Benjamin opted out of the 2020 season last week. Austin caught 13 passes for 177 yards and a touchdown in 14 games with the Cowboys last season.
Washington running back Antonio Gibson has been doing all he can to learn an NFL playbook amid the coronavirus pandemic, which includes sitting in on wide receiver meetings in the early part of camp. Gibson played receiver in college, but also had 33 carries and is expected to primarily be a running back in the NFL, especially with the team releasing Derrius Guice following his arrest. Last season at Memphis, Gibson scored eight receiving touchdowns and added four on the ground so the "Swiss Army Knife" player will be a matchup nightmare for defenses. It will take Gibson time to learn everything about the RB position, but he is electric with the ball in his hands so expect Washington to get creative finding ways to get him involved. Gibson is a high-upside sleeper to target late in fantasy drafts.
New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones will look to take a step forward in his second NFL season, and will be doing so with a new offensive coordinator in former Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett. In his first public comments since being hired in January, Garrett raved about the sophomore-signal caller's work ethic and the work Jones put in to learn the offense without the two being able to meet face-to-face due to the coronavirus pandemic. Jones showed huge upside last season with five-300 yard passing games and three games with four-plus touchdowns. His main issue was turnovers as he threw 12 picks and fumbled a league-leading 18 times. Garrett had great success with Dak Prescott, so expect him to help Jones improve in year two making him a good QB to target if waiting on the position in drafts.
Free-agent RB Kenjon Barner (Falcons) agreed to an undisclosed deal with the Baltimore Ravens Wednesday, Aug. 12.
Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb told reporters during a Zoom session on Tuesday that he is "ready to share work with (Kareem) Hunt and play alongside him in the same backfield." Chubb and Hunt played eight games together in 2019 after Hunt served an eight-game suspension to begin the season. Chubb told reporters, "Last year, it was just half a season (with Hunt), and this year, he's here and ready. I look forward to it." While Hunt's presence in the backfield will affect Chubb in the passing game, the Browns figure to skew run-heavy under first-year head coach Kevin Stefanski. That, along with a revamped offensive line, should lead to more than enough fantasy production for both Chubb and Hunt in 2020. Draft Chubb as a low-end RB1 in all formats this season.
Updating a previous report, Tennessee Titans LB Vic Beasley (undisclosed) failed his physical and was placed on the Non-Football Injury list.
Indianapolis Colts WR T.Y. Hilton (hamstring) passed his physical Wednesday, Aug. 12, and was activated from the active/Non-Football Injury list.
Fantasy Spin: Hilton has been plagued by soft-tissue injuries, and this hamstring injury adds more trepidation. He's a WR3 that you need a backup plan for, but he has upside there as well.
Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has been cleared to play football after a COVID-19 test resulted in a false positive. Stafford commented, "I want to play football. I want to be out there", in addressing a situation he referred to as "scary". The veteran quarterback was on his way to one of the best seasons of his professional career last year, passing for 2,499 yards and 19 touchdowns in only eight games. But a fractured back ended his season Stafford and his fantasy value will be weighed down by the specter of that injury heading into fantasy drafts.
Green Bay Packers WR Equanimeous St. Brown (ankle) will be ready for the first practice Saturday, Aug. 15, according to general manager Brian Gutekunst.
New York Giants TE Evan Engram (foot) said he is ready for training camp thanks to 'a very strong and aggressive rehab' this offseason.
Fantasy Spin: Engram has delivered TE1 production when on the field, but he has played just 19 games over the past two seasons because of various injuries. He could be a Top 5 player at his position, but you need to have a quality backup plan in place.
Philadelphia Eagles RB Boston Scott is 'positioned to be the No. 2 running back' in 2020, according to Zach Berman of The Athletic, and Berman said he expects Scott to have a Darren Sproles-like role in the backfield.
Fantasy Spin: Scott flashed his upside late last season, piling up 151 rushing yards, 199 receiving yards and scoring four times over the final four games. Miles Sanders is the lead back in Philadelphia, but his owners may want to grab Scott as a handcuff.
For the second day in a row, the Green Bay Packers have added a wide receiver. This time, it's former Seahawks wideout Malik Turner, who had 15 catches for 245 yards last season. Turner's much more likely to play a role on this team than the other addition, Travis Fulgham, but he still faces an uphill battle to be a fantasy-relevant part of this roster in 2020. Still, Green Bay is fairly shallow at receiver, so Turner could end up as the team's No. 3 wide receiver by the time the regular season rolls around.
San Francisco 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo is no longer wearing a knee brace in practice this year.
Fantasy Spin: Garoppolo had previously said his knee is back to 100 percent following his 2018 injury, and shedding the brace is further confirmation. A more mobile Garoppolo could lead to a few more big plays, but he should probably still be viewed as more of a high-end QB2 than a every-week fantasy starter.
Updating a previous story, free-agent DT Mike Daniels (Lions) agreed to terms on a one-year deal worth up to $2.7 million with the Cincinnati Bengals Tuesday, Aug. 11, according to a source.
Updating a previous story, free-agent CB Ross Cockrell (Panthers) will remain a free agent after failing to come to terms on a contract with the New York Giants.
Free-agent DT Darius Kilgo (Lions) signed with the New England Patriots Tuesday, Aug. 11. Terms of the deal were undisclosed.
Free-agent DT P.J. Hall (Raiders) visited the Houston Texans Tuesday, Aug. 11.
Miami Dolphins CB Xavien Howard was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Tuesday, Aug. 11.
Tennessee Titans LB Vic Beasley (undisclosed) was placed on the Non-Football Injury list Tuesday, Aug. 11. LB Reggie Gilbert was waived.