Wed Aug 5 5:46pm ET
By ARNIE STAPLETON
AP Pro Football Writer
The NFL is preparing to return most of its employees to team headquarters in Midtown Manhattan later this month and staffers going back to the office will have to take saliva COVID-19 tests every two weeks.
No more than half of the 780-member staff will be allowed to work on any given day at 345 Park Avenue, said Dasha Smith, the NFL's Chief People Officer.
In a staff memo obtained by The Associated Press, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Friday wrote, ''With our players and clubs safely back in the workplace, we too must continue to advance our return to the workplace. This will ensure we are collectively in the best position to execute our season.''
The Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs are scheduled to kick off the season Sept. 10.
That will mark the first game since KC's Super Bowl win over the 49ers in February because all preseason games this month were scuttled following an offseason conducted remotely because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Smith said the league also is providing a transportation subsidy for employees so they can drive themselves or use a ride-sharing service ''if they feel uncomfortable coming to work on public transportation.''
Approximately 150 staff members returned to work for at least one day a week when the NFL reopened its headquarters on June 22 following a three-month lock-down.
Smith said she expected the Phase 2 reopening to commence on Aug. 17 or Aug. 25 but stressed that returning to the office isn't a requirement for any employee.
She said staffers with underlying health concerns or family members with a comorbidity will be allowed to continue working from home. So will anyone with child-care challenges, she said.
''We're doing a person-by-person consultation just to ensure that we are meeting the needs of each of our employees,'' Smith said.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo will decide this week on whether to allow schools to open next month. If employees have to keep their kids home for remote learning ''we will be extremely flexible with those employees,'' Smith said.
''We are really approaching this in a compassionate and understanding way,'' Smith said, ''really making sure that we are taking into account all of the personal situations that our employees are experiencing and dealing with.''
The NFL's satellite offices in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey, and Culver City, California, were reopened earlier this summer for production staffers who were subject to the same protocols put in place in Manhattan such as temperature checks, social distancing and mask requirements in common areas.
The COVID-19 saliva tests, which are also required of any NFL employee who returns from a business flight, produce results within 72 hours.
A positive test would trigger a quarantine order and contract tracing procedures. Any employee who registers a reading of 101.4 degrees or higher also will be prohibited from entering team headquarters.
Waiver Wire Adds: Week 4
The New York Giants have inked veteran running back Alfred Morris to the teams practice squad in a continued attempt to bolster their backfield situation in light of Saquon Barkleys (knee) season-ending absence. Morris last appeared in 2019 in one game for the Cardinals, receiving just one carry for four yards. His best days came as a member of Washington, where he was a two-time Pro Bowl selection in 13 and 14, before joining Dallas, where current Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett was his head coach. Newly-signed Devonta Freeman carried the ball just five times Sunday versus San Francisco, although the score of the game likely dictated his workload more than the teams level of confidence in their new running back. Morris is a name to keep an eye on should he eventually be elevated to the active roster.
Free-agent safety Earl Thomas III was set to have a workout with the Houston Texans on Tuesday, but COVID-19 related protocol scuttled that meeting. Things had advanced so far between the two sides that Thomas had already taken a physical with the organization. Released by Baltimore during pre-season activities following an altercation with a teammate, the seven-time Pro Bowler would be a sound addition to the Houston secondary. With the workout cancelled Tuesday, it does throw into flux the possibility that Thomas could be available this weekend when the Texans take on Minnesota. Having allowed at least 28 points in each of their first three contests, the Texans defense is currently not a fantasy option in any-sized format.
The Los Angeles Chargers placed cornerback Chris Harris Jr. (foot) on Injured Reserve on Tuesday and promoted defensive back Jahleel Addae to the active roster in a corresponding move. Harris suffered a foot injury in the Week 3 loss to the Panthers that is expected to keep him out for at least a month and potentially up to six weeks. With All-Pro safety Derwin James (knee) already out for the year, it's another blow to a strong Chargers secondary. The good news is that Harris will be back this season. Against a strong Buccaneers passing attack this Sunday, the Chargers Defense could be a bit more vulnerable, especially against wide receiver Chris Godwin in the middle of the field.
Denver Broncos QB Drew Lock (shoulder) did not participate in practice Tuesday, Sept. 29. LB Jeremiah Attaochu (quad), CB Davontae Harris (hamstring) and RB Phillip Lindsay (foot) were limited. CB Bryce Callahan (wrist), DE Shelby Harris (neck, quad), S Kareem Jackson (back) and S Trey Marshall (wrist) practiced in full. The Broncos did not hold a practice Tuesday, so the report was an estimation.
The Philadelphia Eagles placed tight end Dallas Goedert (ankle) on Injured Reserve on Tuesday, meaning he'll be out at least three weeks. In a corresponding move, the team signed tight end Hakeem Butler to the active roster off the Panthers practice squad. Goedert has a small fracture in his left ankle and also an ankle sprain. He'll be back this year, though, and was a big part of the team's passing game before going down, so he's worth stashing if you have the extra roster space. A banged-up Philly receiving corps will now rely more heavily on Zach Ertz and DeSean Jackson, if he's healthy to go in Week 4. Greg Ward Jr. might be worth a flier off the waiver wire in deeper leagues.
Los Angeles Chargers CB Chris Harris Jr. (foot) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list with a foot injury Tuesday, Sept. 29. S Jahleel Addae was elevated from the practice squad to replace him on the roster.
Carolina Panthers S Natrell Jamerson was activated from the practice squad Reserve/COVID-19 list and returned to the practice squad Tuesday, Sept. 29.
Free-agent S Earl Thomas (Ravens) has already taken in offsite physical - likely in preparation to sign with the Houston Texans - but the Texans sent him home before his scheduled workout after the NFL asked all 32 teams to review their COVID-19 procedures for bringing in new players, according to sources.
Free-agent PKs Kai Forbath and Elliott Fry are expected to work out for the Atlanta Falcons on Tuesday, Sept. 29.
Philadelphia Eagles TE Dallas Goedert (ankle) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list with an ankle injury Tuesday, Sept. 29.
Fantasy Spin: Per NFL Network's Mike Garafolo, the "hope" is that Goedert can return at the end of his three-week IR stint, although it sounds like it is far from a guarantee. In the meantime, his absence should lock Zach Ertz into nearly 10 targets per game for an offense that may need Greg Ward to handle a similar workload given all the injuries at receiver. Owners should hold onto Goedert, as he has incredible upside at a position that lacks a lot of it for fantasy purposes.
Atlanta Falcons DE Austin Edwards was elevated from the practice squad Tuesday, Sept. 29. The Falcons also released CB D.J. White and LB Deone Bucannon from the practice squad.
Atlanta Falcons CB Darqueze Dennard (hamstring) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list with a hamstring injury Tuesday, Sept. 29.
Denver Broncos quarterback Brett Rypien is expected to get the start on Thursday against the Jets over Jeff Driskel, according to sources. Driskel looked terrible, albeit against a strong Buccaneers Defense, in the Week 3 loss, and Drew Lock (shoulder) will miss at least another week of action while he recovers from his injury. Rypien, 24, saw his first game action last Sunday with the game out of hand, going 8-for-9 for 53 yards and one interception. Even against a Jets Defense that has looked terrible, Rypien won't have much upside in an offense missing their top receiver for the rest of the season. Downgrade rookie wideout Jerry Jeudy and tight end Noah Fant for this one. If Rypien struggles early, don't be surprised if Denver goes back to Driskel.
Washington Football Team DE Matt Ioannidis (biceps) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Tuesday, Sept. 29. DE Nate Orchard was signed off the practice squad to replace him on the roster.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Chris Godwin (hamstring) may not be able to play in either of the team's next two games as he recovers from a hamstring injury he suffered in Week 3 versus the Denver Broncos.
Fantasy Spin: It appears he would have an outside chance of playing in Week 5, but the Buccaneers are scheduled to play the Chicago Bears two Thursdays from now. With Scott Miller (hip, groin) batting his own injury issues, Justin Watson could be thrust into action as Mike Evans' tag-team partner in Week 4 against the Los Angeles Chargers. If that ends up being the case, Watson should probably be considered a low-end flex option.
There is a chance that Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock (shoulder) could play in Week 5 against the Patriots, but the Broncos have more hope that he'll return in Week 6 in a more favorable matchup against the Dolphins. This is why Denver didn't place the 23-year-old on short-term Injured Reserve. The offense was just unable to get into any kind of flow in Week 3 against a tough Buccaneers Defense, and it also doesn't help that wide receiver Courtland Sutton (knee) is lost for the season. Lock's return should make rookie Jerry Jeudy and tight end Noah Fant more attractive in season-long and DFS leagues, but the second-year signal-caller will remain a midrange QB2 until further notice with the Broncos dealing with so many injuries. Until Lock returns, Jeff Driskel is a desperation QB2 streamer in superflex setups.
New York Jets head coach Adam Gase said that wide receiver Jamison Crowder (hamstring), rookie left tackle Mekhi Becton (shoulder) and offensive tackle George Fant (concussion) will all be limited in Tuesday's walkthrough practice. All three players are trending toward playing on Thursday night against the Broncos. It's good news for a Jets offense that has been pitiful without Crowder and running back Le'Veon Bell the last two games. If Crowder suits up this week, he should be quarterback Sam Darnold's top aerial target, which would put him on the flex radar in PPR leagues. Crowder could see even more targets if Breshad Perriman misses another contest with his injury.
Las Vegas Raiders rookie cornerback Damon Arnette (thumb) is visiting a thumb specialist on Tuesday after he injured it in the Week 3 loss to the Patriots, and he could be sidelined up to six weeks. In a worst-case scenario, Arnette would be placed on Injured Reserve. The first-round pick fractured the same thumb in training camp, so this is certainly something to watch moving forward. Either way, Arnette should be able to return this year for the Raiders secondary. The 24-year-old has been improving and has tallied 14 tackles (11 solo) and one pass defensed in the first three games of his NFL career.
Free-agent WR Jermaine Kearse (Lions) announced his retirement Tuesday, Sept. 29.
Philadelphia Eagles TE Dallas Goedert (ankle) has a small fracture in his ankle that will keep him out multiple weeks. He's not expected to require surgery.
Fantasy Spin: Goedert's absence will force the Eagles to rely more on Zach Ertz and Miles Sanders. Richard Rodgers could see a few looks, but it's not enough to move the needle in fantasy.