Roger Goodell has informed clubs that in order to lessen exposure risks, the NFL and union have agreed that there will be no joint practices this year.
Teams are also prohibited from holding training camps outside of their home training facilities. This means that every NFL team will be limited for their training, which makes it tougher for all players to get a full training session in with full competition against other teams. This change is made to help enhance the ability to protect the health and safety of every team’s players and staff.
Ultimately, to limit exposure risks, the NFL has made it so teams can avoid the need for clubs to clean and maintain and also can avoid the need for players and staff to travel to other locations. This is limiting travel and the contact between players.
What This Means for the Patriots
The Patriots may have trouble finding definite core players to use on the roster because of how limiting this rule is due to COVID-19. Instead of being able to use joint practices to show players’ grit and abilities in true game situations, the Patriots will have to find another way to find hidden roster gems.
Although this will not be too big of a factor, it will affect how preseason games will play out. The joint practices are important to get players into game situations that both the players and the coaches need to see, but also because of the controlled environment. Joint practices are the first game-like situations that teams undergo. It’s often more beneficial for players to face different teams instead of each other, where tendencies can be found easily and hamper the learning curve of some of the younger players.
Despite his experience as a coach and wisdom, Bill Belichick will have to find a way to find the core players for the Patriots without joint practices. It should not be too big of a problem for the Patriots, but it is a new and tricky problem to overcome in the tumultuous 2020 NFL offseason.
The Patriots were likely set to hold joint practices with the Detroit Lions during Week 1 of the preseason.