NFL News and Notes: League Getting Ready for Testing

The Response

The NFL is, of course, planning to play the 2020 season with an extra emphasis on the health of players and trying to adequately test players, coaches, and staff for coronavirus. However, the league’s chief medical officer Dr. Allen Sills says the response to a positive test will be even more crucial than the testing itself. Sills and other medical professionals updated owners on Tuesday about the league’s plans, including when all players and staff will be allowed back at team facilities.

Sills adds that there are no specific deadlines for welcoming players back to team facilities and team activities. However, he says the league is working on a plan for testing and how to react to a positive test quickly to prevent an outbreak within a particular team.

Innocent Until Proven Guilty

After being arrested on armed robbery charges over the weekend, DeAndre Baker and Quinton Dunbar have both entered not-guilty pleas. Both players have been released on bail and will now wait for the state of Florida to decide whether or not to pursue a trial.

Four key witnesses to the alleged robbery recanted their statements less than two days after telling law enforcement officials that they witnessed Baker and Dunbar committing the crime. Lawyers for both are increasingly optimistic that charges will eventually be dropped.

The Rooney Twist

The NFL is discussing some alterations to the famous Rooney Rule, which is designed to give more minorities a chance to interview for head coaching or GM positions. The league will now require teams to interview at least two minority candidates for a head coaching vacancy and one for a coordinator job among candidates from outside the organization.

The NFL is also pushing to tie draft-pick compensation to the Rooney Rule by compensating teams that lose a minority coach to a better job with another team. This would give teams more incentive to hire and develop minority coaches, although such an amendment would require approval by 24 of 32 teams. The amendment was tabled during meetings on Tuesday, reportedly because it didn’t have enough votes to pass.

A Different Face Mask

In light of the current pandemic, the NFL is testing new face masks that utilize N95 material, which is used for surgical masks. It’s unclear what the new face masks will look like, as there are multiple prototypes. However, Oakley, a sports equipment company that makes all NFL face visors, will likely make a recommendation to the league about giving players an extra level of safety from the coronavirus while on the field.

Explain Yourself

One of the biggest mysteries of the offseason is why former MVP Cam Newton remains unemployed after being released by the Panthers earlier this offseason. The Chargers were initially seen as a potential fit, but head coach Anthony Lynn says that won’t be the case after the team considered the possibility.

Lynn said he believes Newton will be on a roster when the season starts. However, he says that Chargers are happy with Tyrod Taylor, Easton Stick, and rookie Justin Herbert on their roster.

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